I'm Down 1k Followers on Bookstagram and (Maybe) Happy About It
If you’ve been a bookstagrammer (you have an Instagram account dedicated only to all things book related) for at least a year or more, chances are you’re feeling frustrated with how your engagement numbers have been over the past few months, maybe even coming to a boiling point in the past few weeks.
I know I have been, and when chatting with some of my bookstagram friends, we’ve all noticed a serious downturn in our numbers. There are plenty of really amazing accounts who have a large number of genuine followers and interactions that haven’t chipped away at their likes and comments, and I offer a sincere kudos to them because that has been more elusive for many of us.
Let’s take a look at some examples of how my engagement has shifted.
This pic is from July of last year. No attention grabbing titles like Harry Potter or anything by Sarah J Maas which tend to get likes because there's such a big audience there. No props, no fun locations. Just books- and it got almost 400 likes. I had about 6.5k followers at the time I posted this.
This pic is from this July. It includes bright colors, and a brand new book. With 10.5k followers it still only received just over 200 likes.
Last year, pics using the sundayshelfie hashtag or other popular content like bookshelves routinely received well over 1,000 likes. In the past few months, similar posts, those in the high-draw categories are getting closer to 500.
Want a more direct comparison?
I first shared this pic July last year, again when I had around 6.5k followers.
I shared the pic again yesterday, with 10.2k followers.
Recently I learned that it has been suggested that the new IG algorithm is initially only showing your post to 10% of your followers, if it gets likes and comments then that pic gets shown to more followers and potentially starts moving up the feed to get more eyes. But if that initial 10% don’t engage with it, it becomes more or less invisible. So what if the 10% it’s being shown to are people who are never going to see that pic? Because they follow thousands of accounts, because they’re inactive? Then you’re not going to get any traction with that post you put so much work into.
Let’s say that this theory about this sudden downturn in engagement isn’t accurate. It very well may not be! Instagram’s algorithms have changed many times in the past year, with no clear cut explanations to users as to what exactly is happening behind the scenes.
Even if that is the case, it may be worth forsaking some of those hard earned numbers in order to cut the accounts that are never going to engage with you and your work. I started looking at my followers, in small chunks of time, with a vaguely painstaking level of tedium to see who these people are and removing accounts individually.
When I first started this experiment I had just shy of 10.6k followers. At the time of this posting I’ve removed almost 1k followers. It can feel like a huge blow when you spend time hosting challenges and giveaways in order to grow your audience to watch those numbers drop so drastically BUT I have hope that it will help my engagement in the long run.
Who are these accounts that I’m ditching?
Accounts that haven’t had any new posts in over a year.
I was surprised by how many of the accounts following me have been inactive since 2016! Many other hadn’t posted anything new since 2017. If they’re not posting, chances are that they’re not seeing your posts either.
Accounts that are following more than 3k people
It can feel like a crappy numbers game or some piece of elitism to only follow a certain number of accounts but the reality is that you will never see the posts from all of those accounts unless you are on IG 24 hours a day. I follow 900ish and I know there are so many wonderful posts that I’m missing, it must be that much crazy when that following number starts creeping up.
Accounts that seem opposed to your genre or brand
If you are an account that is pushing vitamins I don’t know how interested you’re going to be in commenting on a post about the best Stephen King read. If you are an account that features male bodybuilders, I genuinely don’t know how you came to follow me. I know these accounts have an audience, but I have a hard time believing that there’s going to be enough audience crossover for them to ever see my bookstacks and fuzzy cats. I’m not saying don’t have varied interests, but running a niche account is generally with the intent of engaging with that niche specifically.
Accounts that explicitly say “spam” or use copy that indicates they are spam accounts
I found someone following me who literally had the phrase “spam account” in their bio. I mean...why?
The follower removal is still a work in progress.
At the end of the month I’ll have some updates to share about whether or not my attempt to fix my engagement numbers actually worked. Here’s hoping that there will be some improvement!
Have you seen your Instagram account numbers decline in the past few months? Do you have other suggestions on how to improve engagement? Let me know in the comments below!