The more I talk to other artists lately, the more I hear about the usual overall grievance: using social media is challenging! Coming from someone who used to do art events constantly, it is a big adjustment from making sales in person to making sales solely online. I am thankful for having the online presence that I do, but it was no easy feat and not without its complications! For a long time, social media platforms would make it seem like the more followers, the better! So, a lot of the stress for artists when it came to social platforms like Instagram and Twitter was follower engagement. The less followers you have, the less engagement you have - right? Wrong. A lot of people, especially artists, would try many things to get their follower count higher. Some used to buy followers at a time when you could (can you still?), some would join F4F (Follow for Follow) chains, etc. Since the beginning of Instagram in particular, this may have been true, but now the platform has increased its viewers and what those viewers see around the world. It is a lot easier now to discover a wider range of Instagram accounts (that you don’t follow) than ever before. So why does the engagement still run low? Let's use my Instagram page for example.
Back in 2012 when I started the ORANGEinal Instagram account, I would only have engagements from those who followed me which wasn’t very many at the time. As the years went on and I started to use my Instagram as more of an art portfolio, my engagement started getting better, gaining followers etc. I started doing events and networking and the majority of my following comes from that. However, in or around 2017, I commented on one F4F post and let me tell you – that was my mistake. In the following days after, I got hundreds of new followers from this F4F comment – some were just real regular people, some were business pages but mostly it was artists pages that followed me which at the time I thought was pretty cool. What I didn’t know, however, is now Instagram’s engagement not only watches how people you don’t follow engage with your social page but it watches the people who do follow you as well. And if most of these people are inactive, spam or “ghost” accounts that follow you, then your overall engagement on your account will low. With all this being said, I got my following to about 5,500 on Instagram through networking at events, facebook groups and F4F art pages. Now that social media platforms are a key outlet for artists around the world since art venues are closed (for now), I, like many artists, started taking more time on my social media platforms. When I learned about this engagement criteria, I thought of a way to better my engagement with my followers. Now, what I’m about to say may sound like a lot of work – and trust me, it is – but I know it will be worth it at the end.
I opened my 5,500 followers, scrolled all the way down to the bottom, and started looking at the accounts. Yes. You read that right. I click on an account, look at it, and decide if they should be removed from my following or not. 5,500 times. So far I have removed about 1,000 accounts from my following and it feels amazing! My engagement has actually gone up in the last few days! So, if you have this similar issue or want to learn more about it, here are some quick tips on what to look for when removing these kind of accounts from your following:
Is the account active?
The first thing I look at is the first three posts on the person’s page. What are the dates? How often do they post? Do they reply to comments that are left on their posts? Do they have an Instagram story or highlights?
Is this a real person?
A lot of spam accounts are similar. Their page consists of either product they are selling or memes with really bad resolution like your Aunt from Trinidad sent it to you and it’s been screen shot and forwarded 121 times.
Following. V. Followers
I read an article once that said the easiest way to identify a spam account is looking at the following to follower ratio. If an account has 300 followers but follows 3,000 people? Chances are they are not going to see your content and the follow itself does not serve any purpose.
One thing I always find strange are artists that have “commission open, DM if interested” in their bio but the account is locked? A spam account also usually has either way too many things in their account bio or nothing at all. One common theme is making their bio look like a 2002 MSN Status which I always find a little entertaining.
Engage! This isn't about removing more so than it is about engagement. As you are going through your followers or notice someone follow you and you check their page - drop them some likes! If their account is not a spam or ghost account, engage with the active page! I'm sure they will appreciate the likes and your account will be back on their radar if it hasn't already been due to the A L G O R I T H M (deep announcer voice).
One key thing to take away from this though is: quality over quantity. I rather have 1,000 followers that always engage with my posts than 5,500 followers and only 10% engage with my posts. So if you see my follower count go down? It's me. If you are in a similar position to me and have some TIME, I hope these pointers are helpful! If you don’t, just keep an eye out for any new followers with this criteria because they do start to add up and spam accounts do still exist. At the end of the day, I say all this to say – social media isn’t real. Most of the people on there are not real. So artists, your social media engagement should never dictate how you feel about nor the value of yourself, your work or where you’re headed in life. Post and go, is what I always like to say! Your work is amazing, and Instagram, like all social media platforms, is just a tool to use to share that with the people who want to see you flourish and that is what matters!
Thank you for reading + Stay ORANGEinal!