Because the hype is a facade.

When Instagram first began, it was used as a cool way to document certain aspects of your life via a photo and some filters. Seven years later it has become the number one source for marketing, promotion and sales. Curated feeds, timed posts and specialized hashtags have now taken over the app that was once used for fun.

Instagram’s business model has sparked the a deep rooted insecurity in it’s community. The more followers and likes you have, the more popular you are.  But how real is it?

When I first started MarshBar’s Closet, I fell victim to the app’s standards of popularity. I did something no brand would openly admit; I bought followers (I’ve purchased likes before as well, don’t judge me).  Once Instagram did their clean up where they deleted bot followers from your account, I felt like I was starting over again. After being consistent with my posts and using hashtags, I began to feel like my audience grew and I felt like before you know it, I’d reach10k followers in no time. What an achievement!  Let’s face it, brands won’t work with you if you have 2,000 followers. They want the people who have reach! High engagement. Bold, clear photos. Curated feeds. Shit, take my first born while you’re at it.

Four years later, my MarshBar’s Closet account has 8k followers and it had barely grown in about 7 months. Truth be told, day by day I lose a bunch of followers that follow then unfollow my account. I noticed this happening a few months ago and it really annoyed me. Influencers, top brands and regular joe shmoe’s would like 3-4 pictures, follow my account and then unfollow a few days later.

One day while on Facebook, a young lady posted about a marketing strategy to help grow your Instagram account. Intrigued, I decided to ask her more about it. She put me in touch with a guy who let me know about some weird program that follows accounts that are similar to yours, engages them and then unfollows them a few days after they follow you. Ehh… no thanks. Was this what people were doing now?  It all began to make sense.  The young lady who connected me to her source followed up with me a few weeks later to see if we decided to work together.

As someone who’s fallen victim to the pressures of having a large following and engagement, I realized the entire app has programmed us to be superficial and obsessed with popularity. It’s built on a facade of fake followers and fake likes. More than half the accounts on Instagram use these apps to make them feel big enough to compete with other people or brands. Once I realized this, I decided that my new platform, Introvert N the City, would be completely authentic. Authentic in the audience, mission and purpose.

I receive one of the below emails at least once a week.  If you fall into the hype of having a large following on social media, it’s because it has been designed to make you feel insignificant if your account doesn’t have over 10k followers.

During my last trip to LA, I met a psycho (he was wasted and kept bragging about his huge Hollywood career). He told me that one of his many businesses was helping young starlett’s grow their Instagram following by buying followers. “I can get you 100k followers like that!” he said. “No thanks,” I replied. “Are you kidding me? All of these celebrities are doing it! Let me help you grow your following!” he exclaimed. “I’m good. I want an authentic audience. I don’t want fake followers,” I responded. “You’ll never get that. You will never grow an authentic audience. It just doesn’t exist!” he said.

Ha!

Watch me! I’m dedicating my energy to my new platform, Introvert N the City. I will grow an authentic following based off of great content and strategy, not purchased followers.  The truth is, we are capable of reaching people in an authentic way. We are capable of connecting with people through the content we put out.  Honestly speaking, I don’t want to be popular, I want to inspire people to be their best, authentic self.

Let’s talk about it!  Do you feel pressured to maintain a certain persona on Instagram?