I’ve been in a really long, traumatic and violent relationship for the past 8 years so it’s time to quit instagram and end this cycle of repeated negativity.
I joined Instagram with a personal account. It was ok, I didn’t really get into the rhythm of sharing everything that was happening in my life. I’ve always been someone who is happy enjoying an experience at the time and not needing everyone to know about it. So in those early years, I didn’t pay too much attention to it.
In 2016, I started to work on building a business. With no funding to support my marketing, I embraced the ‘gram to help me create a “community of engaged followers.” After building a shadow-banned first account which had almost 6k followers, I had to create a new one in 2020. I still have no idea why the account was blacklisted and the new account has grown to around 1600 followers – which averages out to about 2 followers per day.
One of the key contributing factors in deciding that it’s time to quit Instagram is the sheer amount of work that’s involved. This has often led to stressful mornings thinking about what to post. There are many different ways to connect with followers on instagram and they want you to utilise all of them. This takes up a lot of time. You are also required to be consistent to be rewarded with more reach. So if you aren’t, you lose your positioning and your followers don’t see you. I’ve read a few articles from influencers who have actually burned out because of the pressure to perform and be present on the platform all the time.
I’ve experimented with post-types and content to get the best out of the platform. I have been on stories, I have shared personal stuff, I have told followers how to work with me. Not only that, I’ve shared links and memes and liked and commented and shared other people’s posts. At times, I have literally begged people to like a post that I’ve posted so that the IG Gods can reward me with more reach. None of this has resulted in strategic business gains, so I know it’s time to quit instagram.
My professional background is in Marketing so I understand the use of social media for attracting clients and customers, sharing your brand story and creating a community. However, in recent years, Instagram in particular has made it harder and harder for small businesses to thrive.
The businesses that might be thriving have already had a big following before the big algorithm take-overs or paid for their followers. They may pay a lot for ads or they are social media ‘experts.’ How you can call yourself an expert on a subject matter that was only conceived of in the last 13 years is beyond me. Besides, calling yourself an expert is a bit vain in my opinion. How on earth can you know everything about anything?
Anyway, Instagram like other social media platforms can be a helpful marketing channel for any business but you definitely can’t rely on it. You should also have eggs in other baskets – which most good business people know.
There is this fear of coming off the ‘gram though, which is very real fomo (fear of missing out). I don’t feel the fomo in regards to what’s happening in the lives of the people I find interesting. But I do feel fomo in what will happen when it’s time to quit instagram – because there are some positives.
The main one is meeting/ connecting with people I may not have met in real life because life is very different now. As a solopreneur I don’t get out much so I don’t meet many people the way I used to when I worked for someone. So for that, I would feel the fomo. But to be honest, even as I’m writing this, it doesn’t mean I need to quit Instagram completely. I could just stay there to get info, meet people etc and just not use it for my business. It’s definitely less pressure and less idle consumption of likes, shares, saves and who’s viewing my stories.
Another reason that shows me it’s time to quit instagram is that I’ve had way too many conversations about Instagram with my husband, clients and colleagues. I have paid to advertise and wasted a lot of money on the app. I’ve spent too much time creating incredible posts that only get seen by well-meaning friends, clients and the odd peer who feels my pain.
Over time, I’ve met some lovely people and had some lovely conversations and even made some life-long friends. But none of this has helped my business to grow. Since I started my coaching practice, I’ve only ever received clients from google (organic search, not ads), press and the odd ad on IG for a retreat.
I can actually tell you how many clients have come solely from IG. Four clients. In 7 years, only 4 people have paid to work with me. Of those 4 people, only one was following me for a while. The other 3 all came from an ad and we didn’t know each other.
With my business hat on, it’s hard to ignore those figures and I finally feel justified that it’s time to quit instagram.
We blame the algorithms a lot and at first I thought this blaming was misplaced as an easy excuse for creating crap content. But then I started doing some research. I would post the same post as, say, Steven Bartlett or Jay Shetty. My post would receive hardly any traction, whilst their posts would soar. And let’s get into more detail of the analytics. I can see how many of my followers liked their posts versus liking mine. Guess what the results showed? Those followers didn’t engage with my post.
Now, this could be because those two are famous so they know more than me. This is stupid thinking. I’ll tell you why. We blindly follow celebrities thinking because they’re everywhere and loud, they MUST be an expert and know what they’re talking about. In most instances, this is not the case!
A celebrity gains traction by hiring publicists and playing a game that many of us may not be up for playing. This is the game of compromising values for an end result. In this case, the end result is fame and lots of it. I’m not playing that game. I can’t. I’ve tried. It’s not me. So rather than stay on a platform that rewards this behaviour, it’s time to make a strategic decision and move on, for now.
The other thing that really bothers me is the over-sharing I’m expected to do in order to get people to work with me. More than any other reason, this one affects my decision to quit Instagram the most.
The Social media Marketing mavens say that the process of ‘know, like and trust’ begins and ends with (in my opinion) over-sharing. I personally don’t need to know what the CEO of John Lewis eats for breakfast to buy from them.
Say I was searching for a physiotherapist. I don’t need to know that a qualified physiotherapist stretches their own body each day in order to work with them. In this case, I would ask for recommendations from other people, read independent reviews, book a consultation and then decide.
I don’t like feeling forced to share selfies of myself and my own personal goals. It doesn’t feel good to post about my family just to get favour from my followers and get likes.
In case you didn’t know, Instagram only shows your post to 2% of your audience in the first few minutes of posting. If that 2% don’t interact with the post, Instagram won’t share it any further. The only posts that perform well on my feed are personal posts.
To a certain extent I understand why my personal life would be of interest to people especially with the number of challenges I’ve overcome. But I’m not in those challenges anymore and I don’t need to relive them week on week by sharing those details. For instance, you don’t see a GP because you know they’ve had cancer, you see a GP because they have TRAINED in what they do for a living.
I’m the same. I’m trained and I work hard to ensure that I’m always upping my game with my practice to deliver the best experience I can for my clients. So why do I have to share what my son and I did on Sunday? If something I’ve done inspires others, then great but I don’t like that as a motive for posting.
Ironically, when I share something about work, usually something great I’m doing or achieving, those posts get the least amount of traction. So with my business hat on, it doesn’t make any sense to use Instagram as a marketing tool for my business goals.
Instagram really isn’t good for my health either. The endless scrolling doesn’t serve me well. I’ve had to scroll in order to engage with other people’s posts. This is so that the algorithms reward me with more views of my posts and it’s exhausting. I realise that I’m consuming so much information in such a short period of time that it actually affects my mindset negatively.
I’ve experimented with myself. Every morning, I avoid the phone until I start work and I always seem to open the app to see how my post performed overnight. Then I’ll scroll for a few minutes. No matter what mood or energy I started my day in, by the time I close the app and try to start work, my brain is fuzzy. On the days I don’t look at the app, I’m productive, positive and creative.
You never know, I may come back when I’m famous and you’re seeing me everywhere but for now, I can’t deal with being measured on how ‘interesting’ my content is. I can’t compete with brand budgets of £500+ a week in advertising. Low-life influencers who only care about the sale and their fame rather than the person they’re supposedly helping aren’t worth competing against.
Literally – all of this goes against my beliefs and at this point. I’m the stupid one who keeps churning out brilliant content and support that falls into the black hole of Instagram content.
I can’t do this to myself anymore.
However, this is not an easy decision and writing this post has proved that to me. It will take some time to fully move on from the ‘gram for my business but ultimately, this is the right decision for me.
Work through these questions like I did and then you should discover if you need to quit or even use it differently.
Whatever your answers, they will give you some insight towards how you can improve your behaviour/ interactions with the platform.
Puja McClymont – certified coach, wisdom teacher, speaker and host of the SELF Care 101 podcast.
As a life and leadership coach, I help mission-driven individuals who are seeking direction, to gain clarity, by expanding their inner awareness through the ancient wisdom teachings of Ayurveda and Yoga; so that they can lead more purposeful and fulfilling lives.
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