Yes, I deleted my Instagram, lost over 5,000 followers, and those Instagram-worthy pictures. I have no regrets and it is one of the best decisions I’ve made in my life. But I’ve since started a new Instagram account (Yes! I regain my old IG handle @deeniseglitz), without feeling the pressure to perform. What happened? Nope, it wasn’t hacked.
Let me explain.
I started Instagram in 2015. Since then, I have gained a healthy following of about 2,000 over followers. However, in comparison to the other more influential bloggers or personalities, my following was nothing. I did not feel pressured at all since I was focusing on my blog, more than Instagram. Besides, all these social media work to me is just a hobby which I started pursuing 10 years ago.
But things change when a friend of mine introduced me to this company that claims to grow Instagram accounts ‘organically’. At that time, I only knew that influencers can cheat by buying followers and likes. But I had no idea that there are influencers who hire Instagram managers to mass follow a large number of accounts and then unfollow them. This ‘follow and unfollow’ strategy works because people will start following your account knowing that you followed them. And this strategy seems to be employed by many of my ‘blogger friends’ and popular influencers. No wonder they can gain 10,000 followers in a few months! They aren’t even celebrities so how do people know about them?
So, I tried. Why not?
I decided to give it a try. It’s not as bad as buying followers right? Even if I follow other accounts, it is up to them to decide whether they would like to follow my account or not. So, why not? I can take it as an experiment and then write about my experience. Since I had a really small following in the first place, what are the stakes? Thus, I decided to contact the company that performs this service. I was a little hesitant at first as I needed to pay about $50 to $60 per month just to get the service going. But I went ahead anyway as I know that I could stop anytime.
Moreover, it seems like most of the influencers are employing this Instagram strategy? Even one of the PR lady I knew, started using this strategy to gain more followers as well. I slowly coaxed myself into believing that there is no harm trying.
The moment I signed up with the company, my following started to increase almost instantaneously. It felt good to see the numbers going up. But once the mass unfollowing begins, I started receiving ‘hate’ messages from my ‘ex-follower’ who said that he can’t believe that I had to resort using to this method in order to gain followers. I was hurt.
So I decided to stop.
The damages that cannot go undone.
After stopping the service, my account stopped growing. Because over time, some of my new followers started unfollowing my account. My follower count dropped. I was worried. What if people start to discover that I ‘cheated’? My account seems like a mess. How do I fix this mess? I couldn’t just delete my account right? Maybe I should not have tried this at all. I was instantly filled with regrets.
I was desperate.
I started to contact the same company again and paid for the same package. But I stopped after two weeks. During this period of time, I was so desperate to get the numbers up and even started purchasing a few hundred followers just to make ‘my account seems like it is growing naturally’.
At the back of my head, I knew this was not sustainable at all. In the long run, I would have to spend more in order to maintain my account. I wasn’t even monetizing from my blog so why should I be paying just to gain more followers? It just did not make any sense. I felt like I was trapped in this negative cyclical nature of having to get my followers and likes.
I stopped once and for all.
I decided to leave my account as it is. I told myself that I will work hard on my blog because this is my main platform where I can connect genuinely with my readers. All of my heartfelt thoughts are shared through this main platform.
I stopped logging into Instagram and started posting less frequently. The number of ‘likes’ dropped drastically. What’s the point of running this account when everything seems ‘dead’? I knew that at some point, I would have to press the delete button and start all over again.
I deleted my account the next day.
I will erase my wrongdoings and start afresh. After all, it is not too late to start all over again. Since then, I started a new account. This time, I entrust it to the Lord to provide me with the wisdom to run my blog and social media channels.
I don’t need a large following anyway. What am I? I am just a regular working Singaporean who enjoys sharing her experiences through her writings and photos. With that, I am going to stay true to myself and enjoy what I love doing most – writing.
This artificial Instagram strategy is still prevalent.
A week later I deleted my account, there was an online news article about Singaporean influencers who boost their followers via artificial means. I am not surprised at all. Even until today, some of my ‘Instagram friends’ may have thousands of followers but has garnered less than 100 likes for each Instagram post. Isn’t that alarming enough? Do you know that even brands and online digital news agencies are resorting to this strategy?
Even if this was made known to many, I am not sure why these influencers are still called to endorse brands and invited to take part in brand campaigns. You can tell whether an ‘influencer’ cheats when you take a look at their followers and who they are following. Why is he or she following a Russian account with boring images? Think about it. Are these influencers really influential? Maybe some of these brands, who engaged these influencers, are also using artificial means to boost their Instagram account. This Instagram game has become too commercialised. No wonder, Tik Tok is taking over.
The only way to gain followers is to make an impact on this world.
The only organic way to grow your account (or any social media accounts) is to continue doing what you love and connecting with the rest of the world with your talent, capabilities and inspiring works. When you can make a positive impact in this world, you will over time gain respect, honour and naturally, followers.