Wednesday, May 05, 2021

An Instagram Experiment

I started my Instagram account about 4 years ago. About 2 years ago, I had 400 followers. And as of a few months ago, I had 800 followers. (So it's grown pretty linearly long-term over these last 4 years.) I mainly used it as a place to dump images, and I wasn't really active at all on Instagram. Around March 20th, I thought I'd try to be a bit more engaging and see "where that got me." So I started clicking on hashtags randomly and would "like" many photos from strangers (not people I had already followed).

Doing that just off-and-on for a bit gained me 100 followers in 20 days.

And then another 100 followers in the next 20 days.

So I was up to 1,000 followers on May 1st. Throughout this process, I would "like" more than I would comment (by FAR), but if I liked a photo enough to want to leave a comment, I made sure the comments were specific enough to not seem like a copy/pasted comment that I could be leaving on hundreds of photos. I found myself following more local people who made interesting photos. And I enjoyed tunneling through all kinds of hashtags and following them down random rabbit holes - especially locally based hashtags.

After posting something specific, I made sure to interact with similarly tagged images over the next few days. So that meant a lot of "North Shore"-based hashtags after have 3 posts about Lake Superior. And then a lot of Minneapolis-based hashtags after posting some images from downtown. That way, people who I were interacting with who were curious about my page would come see things that might be interesting to them.

I discovered something everyone knows: smaller/local hashtags appear more infrequently, but might get you to something more interesting to you. And larger hashtags are so broad and so very commonly used that you might be seeing everything.

But I've noticed that I've gained more followers while interacting with "bigger" hashtags, like #photography #photographer #nightphotography and #longexposure for example.

However, I ENJOY looking at work with "smaller/local" hashtags, like #minnesotaphotographer #minnesotaartist #northshoremn #captureminnesota etc.

Just for fun (and because I had a number of car appointments, vet appointments, and lots of extra time spent waiting around), I hit Instagram extra hard over the last few days. So hard that Instagram "stopped" me 2 times for a bit thinking I was maybe a bot:

I think that just happens when you hit up ONE hashtag too much. If you keep looking through (and liking) different hashtags, it doesn't seem to happen. I could still use the app normally during that time, but I just couldn't keep liking images. I was good to go again after an hour or two.

After being much more active, I was up to 1,138 followers as of last night:

I gained 138 followers in less than 4 days by just being active on Instagram. (Overall, that's nearly 250 followers gained in less than 2 months of this down-time experiment.) There's no secret. Comment on images you like, "like" posts with hashtags that interest you, and people might come see what your page is all about.

The PRO of these last 6 weeks are that I've stumbled across more local photographers that I've followed. (I wish I knew how many people I followed before starting this, because I wonder how much that has risen... maybe by 20-30 people?)

The CON of doing this over the last 6 weeks is that Instagram has started to feel like a bad moblie game. It has the feel of a game where you don't really get anywhere, but you're still spending time to get there. Like a game where you keep playing to keep upgrading so you can keep playing. And there's a percentage of people who only follow you with the hopes that you will follow them back - if I'm off Instagram for a few days, my follower count will drop a bit as those people have given up on me.

So, if you're interested in gaining more followers on Instagram, just be active. After searching for a topic, refresh the "recent" tab of hashtags to see brand new images waiting for likes and comments. And then interact! Happy scrolling!

Oh yeah, and follow me on Instagram at photostenzel.


  © Blogger template 'Minimalist F' by 2008

Back to TOP