Bye bye, Instagram!

Posted: 10/31/2020 by Bo

Is it possible to make a career on Instagram? (And why I failed)

My commitment to building and supporting communities on the innovation market and my interest in entrepreneurship and new technologies is not a complete picture of what I am thinking of. Some of you know that my adventure with startups began with the ShopTrotter application, and it came directly from my passion for fashion.

Therefore, it should not be surprising that this field still occupies an important place in my life, although today it is not business anymore, but only as a hobby.

ShopTrotter was a platform connecting offline boutiques with customers to help independent fashion reach buyers and let the latter discover offers that do not have the visibility as big brands. After closing my startup, I gained space for self-expression, although in a slightly different way than the one on which my company was built. Instead of promoting consumerism and buying new clothes, I focused on the timelessness of fashion, a sustainable approach to it, without sacrificing aesthetic and visual issues.

I chose Instagram as the main communication channel – a popular platform, with a strong aesthetic DNA, and easier to use (and gain an audience) than my own blog, which I have been running all the time since then – with varying intensity (but still).

An important motivation for starting the IG was the desire to verify whether I can organically gain the audience and reach on this already mature medium – it was spring 2018.

Thus, by this assumption

  • I didn’t buy followers
  • I didn’t pay for likes
  • I did not participate in the so-called “pods”
  • I didn’t organize any giveaways or contests
  • I didn’t use any apps or bots to automate my activity

and what’s as important

  • I started incognito without asking anyone from my network for support.

I knew that the beginnings would be difficult, the more I was surprised that in the first three months I managed to attract as many as 600 followers. I focused on good quality of photos, interesting captions, I was analyzing the statistics to better match the published content to the needs and habits of users. Unfortunately, there was a frustrating lull after this first quarter, when the platform was clearly giving me a head start. Sponsoring posts did not help, paid campaigns did not help (of course, I allocated small budgets for them, because the account was not enough at that stage of the business goal).

Looking for methods and more advanced knowledge about IG, I asked Jakub Ronczka for help. Thanks to my cooperation with him, I implemented sprint activities to thoroughly investigate what brings effects and what actions should be abandoned.

And here I come to the point.

For 78 weeks, I have been running weekly variable tests to discover the secret behind Instagram. In addition to the continuous work on improving the published photos (special thanks to the wonderful photographers with whom I had the honor of working: Piotr Karolczak, Monika Pyzalska, Maciej Lotkowski), at that time I was experimenting with

  • Photo formats
  • The length of the descriptions
  • The number of hashtags
  • Hashtag placement
  • Different publication times
  • Different frequency of publications
  • Testing CTA’s
  • Sharing content
  • My own manual activity on other profiles
  • Challenges
  • Removing mass followers
  • Support from friends with large accounts

and many other little variables.

And what? And nothing.

Of course, the account is growing – at the moment I have almost 3,500 followers, but 5% of it is active. The reach has fallen dramatically, even though I do not use banned hashtags, I follow the tips provided by statistics, I’m active and engage in conversation with fans. Since I care about the recipients who will benefit the most from my knowledge, and not on filthy admirers (I block several such accounts every day), I learned to avoid tags referring to femininity (#polshgirl #legstagram #kobieco – NOPE! I collect screenshots of proposals received in DM’s, because that bizarre material can be discussed in a separate article).

For someone who only works as a hobby in this field, I think I did a lot and put loads of attention into building the account:

  • read many e-books about running IG,
  • follow all kinds of growth specialists
  • conduct experiments and analyze the results
  • my account is visually consistent and updated seasonally
  • publish regularly (daily)
  • I add tasteful, refined photos
  • I add extensive and interesting (in my opinion) descriptions
  • use of hashtags suitable for the content and photos
  • I publish insta stories referring to the subject of the account – i.e. conscious fashion and timeless style, as well as my everyday life
  • I run a blog linked to IGI published in IGTV 19 episodes of the #BrandSunday video series about fashion brands less known in Poland 
  • I am active on other people’s accounts
  • I reply to comments on my posts within an hour (sic!)

Unfortunately, the amount of work and commitment isn’t paying off in desired results. Instagram is addictive (a lot of studies have already been written on this topic) and affects the psychological well-being also of conscious adults. The lack of clear rules of the game and the constant changes introduced by the platform are frustrating, so I decided to stop this experiment. Since November, I suspend my account and remove the application from all devices and the shortcut from the browser.

Would you like some data?

My analysis is ready to use – 78 weeks of notes and a profile that seems pretty good. If you have an idea how to use it, or see the potential in the knowledge I have accumulated, please contact me. I’ll be happy to share my observations in exchange for conclusions that I myself could not come to.

Have this article caught your arttention? For the week to come my @age_concept profile will be available publicly – so you can see where I have made mistakes.