Let's talk about numbers, shall we?
It's time for a weekly dose of Lucy losing her head, having a wobble, then an epiphany and then writing about it. Note to self: Needs snappier title.
How are you this week? How are you feeling about your numbers? How old you are, the number on the scales, the number of followers you have on Twitter, shares you get on Facebook, repins, comments on Instagram.......
If you have a blog, perhaps you track the number of page views you get each month? Maybe you track your competitor's numbers too, so you can see where you stack up.
Maybe you've been tracking your income. I know I do this. I have a Monzo card with a dreamy app that shows me exactly where I'm spending my money on a nice little pie chart. Do you have this too?
The Numbers Game
Because we are all obsessed with numbers right? Whether you're a blogger, Instagrammer, YouTuber, whatever -- we are all bombarded with numbers. Regardless of whether your income relies on those numbers they're out there attached to your profile for all to see.
And we are only human, right? I preach a LOT about knowing why you need the numbers before chasing them all the time. For most of the time I am able to objectively look at my social media and see, with clarity, that I offer value. I can see where my strengths lie, and I make a full-time income supported by these numbers so I know I don't need to worry, I don't need to hit any magical number for the sake of it.
BUT. But, but, but. I am only human. I have an ego, one that's easily bruised and it's really hard not to care that when I want to share something with my Instagram-fam I can't just add a link to my stories and say: 'Swipe up!' Instead, I have to laugh about it and say - the link's in my bio. Or use a bit.ly link. Or reply to each message individually.
So, for better or for worse numbers matter. Not all numbers, but some. And they're different for us all.
Once a month (or, once a quarter) I check how I'm tracking to my goals vs. my competitors. It's a trick Monica of The Travel Hack talks about in The Blogger Course and it's great for working out missed tricks as well as seeing where you are growing in comparison to everyone else. I've found that even though my numbers might be smaller, I grow steadily across all of my platforms - and that's good enough for me.
But this month, I saw a few anomalies. Some mega gains, you know? And my analytical mind loves this SO much! My old job as a merchandiser (not a visual merchandiser...) meant hours of number crunching to work out exactly why the hell we sold 25 Chanel Vitalumiere foundations in Cardiff last week instead of the usual 1. I live for this stuff.
Whereas I usually just look at things from a qualitative point of view: 'Ooooh an amazing trip to Lisbon!' 'They were featured by a big account' 'Ahhhh someone retweeted them'.......that kind of thing, you know? This time I decided it looked so unusual I would turn to every nosy-parkers friend, SocialBlade.com. If you don't know what this is, it's a tool to spot fake influencers. It's quite addictive.....
Here's what my Instagram account looks like on Social Blade.....
You can see a small growth of +120 for the month. And about -90 followings too. Pretty average, nothing major.
But if you were looking at an account who was using sketchy tactics to grow, you might see this instead.
900+ new followers in a month about -700 unfollows in a couple of big chunks too.
And you know what? Let's be TOTALLY real. This tactic isn't illegal. It doesn't actually hurt anyone. Yes, it's super annoying beacuse it doesn't follow our prescribed tactics of: 'just take better pictures, do your hashtag research and spend two hours a day engaging with the community'
That works for some people. But if you need to get to a certain number to appease a brand you want to work with, or get that 'swipe up' or get onto that press trip, or join that agency who specified at least 15k followers, why the hell not? I get it. I don't judge.....I honestly don't. I just wish people would be a little more honest.
Don't brag to me about your Instagram growth unless you're gonna back it up with how you did it: 'I used this amazing thing where it grew my following for me.' Who would do that in these crazy judgemental days? There is a stigma around it, end of story.
I was tempted. SERIOUSLY tempted. I've done Instagram courses, I engage, take nice-enough pictures, engage ALL THE TIME, and I do my hashtag research. To no avail. Well, actually, to no 'numbers' avail. I have the dreamiest Instagram community and I never feel alone. Most of my blog readers, course students, mentoring clients and Facebook group crew know me through Instagram initially. Brands want to work with me, and most find me through Instagram.....but, a HUGE number would still be nice right?
Insert facepalm emoji right here.
In a moment of madness/creative genius/definitely madness/shits and giggles - I signed up for a trial of Social Drift, a tool promising to grow your Instagram following to big numbers while you sleep. I thought, YEP, this is it. I'm gonna hit the bigtime and get my swipe up and I am gonna pretend I did it authentically. And nobody will call me out, because it's a big elephant in the room and people will avoid the topic (to my face.)
For one hot minute and then I remembered who I am and thought FUCK THIS SHIT. As if I would do that you guys!!! Instead, I pulled myself together and thought NOPE. I'm gonna finish this three day trial, document it and then write about it instead.
How it works
I signed up for a three day free trial, with limited functions, and added my Instagram account.
You need to turn off two-step authentification and tell Instagram 'it was me' when dodgy login attempts from Dallas, or California show up.
I set some parameters......accounts who's followers are similar to mine (Social Drift will basically mine them.....), and how fast I'd like to grow. I actually could only choose Slow (due to the free trial) but it suggests you start with slow, working up to normal, then fast.
Within minutes, I could see I was following tens of new accounts in the live stream. Weirdly freaked out, I left and came back later vowing to ignore Instagram for a bit.
By the end of day one, I'd lost a follower and my feed was full of crap.
This pattern continues through day two and three.......
When I check in with Instagram, my feed continues to be full of unrecognisable accounts and I have to keep muting randoms on Stories too.
That's the end. I started with 2926 followers and ended with 2927. But bloody hell, was it worth it to make sure I never wondered whether to do it again - imma stick with my small, but perfectly formed Insta-fam.
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