As a millennial, I’ve been engaged in most forms of popular social media since they entered the scene. I remember when Instagram was just a way to add filters to photos, not an engagement tool. I got a notification from Facebook last weekend that I joined the site ELEVEN years ago. (Chilling.) I remember when you could see other people’s top friends on Snapchat.
As a blogger and creative professional, I know how social media platforms are used to generate clicks which become monetized whether via advertisements (editorial) or direct sales (retail). I’ve used tools to track engagement and followers at work, and consequently applied the same practices to this blog and my personal pages.
For a while, I used a tool that notified me whenever someone unfollowed me on Instagram or Twitter. Instantly, my heart would sink.
Even as I checked out who the culprit was, I wondered why I cared so much. I tracked engagement for the Instagram page I run for this blog, which is less personal and more business-y to me, but getting the updates for my personal accounts was gut-wrenching. I wondered which tweet caused them to press that “unfollow” button, which photo on Instagram was so offensive that they couldn’t bear to see any more updates from me.
If it was someone I considered a “friend” or a mutual follower, this unfollow notice would hit me like a ton of bricks. To me, it was a statement that they were so disinterested in my life that I was no longer worth following. They deemed the very minimal engagement of seeing several posts a week from me as not worthwhile. I would quickly unfollow back. Why should I continue keeping up with them?
I think this bothered me so much because my social media platforms, especially Instagram, are carefully curated. While Twitter has turned into a different beast (mostly an outlet for me to complain and make observations about daily life), I work really hard to make sure my Instagram page consists of quality photos with witty captions. The selfies are rare. There are no #MCM posts. I don’t share something every day. I have never gone “Live.” All of the photos are in focus and well-filtered.
What was I doing wrong? Absolutely nothing.
When I got a new phone about a year ago, I decided not to re-download my follower tracking apps. I haven’t changed my Instagram practices. I love sharing photos not only to interact with my followers, but to keep a record of my life. I love being able to go back and see what I was up to a year ago. Or check out the name of the restaurant I went to on my second date.
My Instagram page captures the best parts of my everyday life…and even when I see my follower count go up and down, I remind myself that the people who really care about me will stick around through even the worst selfies. As long as you’re living your best life, who really gives a damn?!