books, indie author, indie books, indie writer, Instagram, journaling, writing

Lost in the Land of Instagram

1027191702So, a year and a half ago, I finally decided to check out this social media I had heard about so much. I was loathed to take on another account or a program and build a new following all over again. But I was told it was the land of gold if I wanted to sell books.

Wanting to boost my following, I learned quickly NOT what to do. For instance, don’t “heart” every post. Especially the ones with the pretty pictures that say, “sponsored.” You will get instantly spammed by every salesman on Instagram.

The algorithms on Instagram are quick to pick out what you “heart” or do not like, so choose wisely. Before I knew it, my feed was running a plethora of puppies, kittens, flowers, and Vikings, which was fine, but where were the readers and authors hanging out?

I learned not to instantly follow someone that followed me without checking out their profiles. Especially men. The universal pick up line is “Hello beautiful.” Really? You got to be kidding. I also learned that if the account was private and showed a smiling, older male, head for the hills.

Then I found my first “loop.” The program was challenging, but ten apps later, I learned how to design a reasonably normal-looking post. Suddenly I had an outpouring of followers. I decided I needed to create a formula for who I would and would not follow.
First, go to the profile. Second, read that profile. If it said they were an author, but all the posts were of them posing, there was a good chance they weren’t doing much writing. I’m a nice person, and I hate to be rude. But when scantily clad people started showing up on my feed, I soon learned how to block, hide, and un-follow.

Still, don’t understand the follow and un-follow thing. By my math, I should be close to the same number of who I follow and who follows me. Interesting enough, there is always about a 500 difference, usually on my side. I’m thinking, why am I following more than is following me? I have decided it doesn’t matter because in all the profiles I have visited, it seems to be an everyday thing on Instagram. The only time you will get un-followed from me is if you use crude or hateful speech or choose not to wear clothes.

The other thing puzzling to me is the push for huge followings. I understand to a site like Bookbub or a publisher; it seems you have a lot of fans. But really? How can I possibly know 10,000 followers? I can’t even begin to get to know the 1,700 followers I have now. I was raised to be polite to my acquaintances, family, and friends, but giving attention to 1,700 followers is going to be a challenge. Even if I could connect with 100 a day, it would take three weeks before I would be starting all over again and spending 3 hours a day “hearting” posts.

I have learned that while perusing a new invitation to follow if I go down through their posts and read through a few, “heart” a few, and comment on a few; they will now cycle through my feed. Because I want to be a support to that new follower, this is what I do. When they pop up in the feed and are fully clothed, I find I usually want to “heart” it.
I did try a few ads but found it to be a waste of time and money. That is where I probably picked of that odd 500 missing in action followers. They were all people who figured out, like me, to not “heart” sponsored ads.

Instagram is based on pictures, and I have found that my best images involve (can you believe this?) cute dogs, cats, flowers, and landscape. The loops I follow do a lot better if I use my pictures from the vast store I have, with a caption.

I still do not profess to be an expert with Instagram, but I have found it to be a more friendly place to visit than Facebook. Reminds me of the good old days on Facebook when you posted pictures of dogs and cats, and everyone enjoyed seeing pics of the family, but there was not the word spats that now create a hostile environment there.
So, a shout out to all 1,700 of my followers. I hope to “heart” more of you in the future. Meanwhile, I need to get back to my Instagram feed. I got a great pic of my dog I need to post. 😊

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