Yes, this is yet another post about Instagram. I promise I won’t be in the least bit offended if those of you who are sick to death of hearing me bang on (and on, and on…) about Instagram lately want to stop reading right now: I wouldn’t blame you, to be honest.
I can’t seem to help it, though: Instagram fascinates me. In fact, the platform currently takes up a much larger percentage of my day than I’d like to admit to – which is ironic, really, because although I’m spending more time than ever there, I’ve been getting less and less out of it – to the extent that I’ve actually considered quitting it altogether more than a few times recently.
I’ve talked at length (at very loooong length…) about some of the reasons for that, which mostly revolve around the lack of authenticity you now find on Instagram, but if I’m honest, a lot of it also has to do with ME and my stupid theme. Because, hi, my name is Amber, and I’m one of those people who became obsessed with having a perfectly themed Instagram grid – GOD.
I didn’t mean for it to happen. I mean, I read all of the advice posts – the ones telling me that I absolutely HAD to theme my Instagram, STAT, or no one would ever follow me, and it would feel a lot like high school, only with way more photos of tulips – and I think I knew, deep down, that following this advice would be a really easy way to kill every last bit of enjoyment I was getting out of using Instagram in the first place. Obviously I did it, anyway… and, yeah, it totally killed ever last bit of enjoyment I was getting out of Instagram, WHO WOULD’VE GUESSED?
My theme was loosely defined as, “white with pops of colour.” Because no-one’s ever done THAT before, have they? I actually arrived at this theme more or less by accident: see, because I don’t really have much of a life, I take most of my photos inside the house, and my house is mostly white. It made sense to just go with that as my “theme”, but, of course, that made things kind of tricky, because while the majority of my photos are, indeed, taken indoors, almost ALL of my outfit shots are taken outside – so hardly any of them ever made it onto the grid, because they would totally ruin my carefully-planned theme. So, I just didn’t post them on Instagram (unless I’d been lucky enough to find a handy white wall, obviously), and this was a problem, because it turns out that my followers? Are only really interested in seeing outfit shots. Oh.
Well, that’s not TOTALLY true. There are some people who are interested in other things, too, and some who will politely like the odd flatlay or interiors post, even although they’re not that into it. When I look at my Instagram analytics, though, I can instantly see that my most popular photos by far are all outfit shots (or selfies, weirdly). I’d have to scroll a really long way back through the list to find a “popular” photo that wasn’t fashion-related in some way, so it doesn’t take a genius to work out what my followers want to see on Instagram, does it? Unfortunately for me, though, I’m NOT a genius, so even although I knew perfectly well that everyone was just there for the shoes and dresses, I kept right on putting all my time and energy into creating flatlays or whatever, and then wondering why my engagement was so low, and why my account growth had slowed down to just a handful of followers per day, while some of the accounts I followed myself were easily getting ten times that.
So, I wasn’t really loving Instagram much, is what I’m saying. (Other than Stories, I mean. I LOVE Instagram Stories…) My best photos weren’t getting posted there, and the ones I WAS posting were there just because they fitted the theme… which is absolutely crazy, when you really think about it, isn’t it? And don’t get me wrong: I LOVE an Instagram theme – it’s one of the reasons I decided to start one. I love looking at a perfectly colour-coded grid, with everything planned out perfectly… I just can’t seem to do it myself. My life is not colour-coded. Yes, I know my house is mostly white, but my clothes aren’t – and neither are the places I go in them. I can’t even use the same filter to edit each photo, and arrive at a theme THAT way, because what works for one photo doesn’t always work for another. So while I’m absolutely fascinated by the people who never seem to do anything, go anywhere, or wear any clothes that don’t perfectly match their Instagram theme, I’m still totally perplexed by how they manage it – and I’m not even sure I want to know their secret any more.
So I ditched my theme, and started posting what I WANT to post again, rather than what the stupid theme dictates to me. Already, I’m starting to enjoy Instagram much more, and while it’s too soon to say what it’ll do to my follower numbers, I honestly think the algorithm, the bots, and the people who pay for followers, have made that number pretty much irrelevant now anyway, so I’m not going to sweat it.
I have, however, made one concession to Instagram “themes”, by setting up a separate account to post my home interior photos. I’ve been taking quite a lot of these recently because of the kitchen renovation, but, as I said, I’ve realised that the followers of my original account just aren’t that interested in them, so it made sense to me to separate things out a bit, and keep my main account focused on fashion, as that’s why most people follow it.
Of course, my second account DOES currently look like it has a theme: I mean, if you clicked on that link, I’m sure you’re sitting there rolling your eyes right now, and thinking, “Yeah, right, Amber – way to ditch the theme by starting a totally new one!”, but that’s purely down to the fact that this account is just for photos of the house, and, as I said, my house is mostly white, so it would actually be quite difficult NOT to have a theme with this kind of account. Hey, maybe I’ve just stumbled on the big secret of all of those people with the perfectly-themed accounts? Maybe they DON’T avoid ever doing/wearing/eating anything that isn’t the right colour for their Insta grid? Maybe they just focus on one specific niche for their account, and the rest happens naturally?
Well, I guess I’m about to find out – I know have one totally non-themed account, which contains photos in a riot of different colours, and one very niche account, with a more-or-less accidental colour theme (albeit not a very good one, as I’m making no effort whatsoever to make sure all of those whites match each other).