The last time I wrote to you on my last blog entitled, “The Attention Whore”, I said I wanted to take a break from Instagram. So I did. It was a wonderful couple of days! Because it was only day two of my break when I realized that there was something I wanted to do. An experiment if you will. I decided to see what it would be like to be a newbie all over again. Not tell anyone about it, and just start posting photos under a different name. I wish I could take credit for the idea, but Maddy (@the_real_mccoy) sent me an email and told me she had done that awhile back. It seemed like a great idea! And so, I decided it’d be a good humbling experience for me. It seemed like I could use a good dose of reality.
I started posting some pictures under my new IG account. Shots that had been laying around in my camera roll for quite some time now. Pictures that hadn’t “made the cut” in my “prestigious” @rcoleman feed. Pretty much the same old stuff that I’ve always posted. Nothing spectacular really. Questions began to rise in my mind though. What would my friends on IG say about my photography under a different name? Would they still like it? Or had they been giving me lip service all this time? Oh, these were serious questions which lead to even more. So these followers of mine, under the @rcoleman feed, what did they really think of me? These questions began a week long process of plaguing my @rcoleman followers with comments all over their feeds. Positive comments. Nice comments. I followed many of them, constantly complimenting them on their work. I decided to not only hit up my “loyal” followers, but to also blast the people of @ampt and @wearejuxt (two groups I’m a part of) with compliments. I wanted to see if any of these people would actually be friends with my alter ego. What was my strategy? Well, when I first started out a year ago on IG, I targeted people and saturated them with compliments. All in an effort for them to look at my “amazing” photography. I so desperately wanted the likes back then. And for the most part it had worked, so why wouldn’t it work now? After spending a significant amount of time trying to be funny with people and complimenting their work, only two people followed me back and began interacting with me. Seriously?! Two?! I must have gone after a good 50-60 people! And I got two back? What’s sad to me is, I rarely even got a “thank you” from the rest of the people I went after. It was sad and eye opening. Because I totally ignore people sometimes too. But the fact that I only had two real responses? I found this to be hilarious. I still do. But it was weird too. Because I knew these people, and I was being fake with them. So, what now? I had two friends. Two real followers. Don’t get me wrong, I had gotten some other followers. 15 to be exact. All of them were fellow attention whores like myself. Only they were the whores that just hit the “follow” button for every profile they see. One that especially made me laugh was the @girls_girls_girls account. Clearly, someone that loved my photography. For the most part I was going unnoticed, but, I should point out that there were two people that figured out who I was before I get too far. @camwashburn and @bradpuet. Both knew, because both know me the best. So it wasn’t hard for them. And BP gave me the clear to continue going after the AMPt and Juxt people. But who were the two people that started following me back without having a clue who I was? The always amazing, @annacox and @debinsf. Two of my original friends/followers back when I first downloaded IG. Two people that are truly all about the relationships on IG. And while I feel terrible that I did this to them, I’m so glad that they lived up to the reputation they have. They saw someone with mediocre photography that was interested in interacting with them, and not just being another follower. It made me smile so much to have those two be the only two that responded to me. I sure do love those two immensely. Although, I’m sorry I did that to you Anna & Deb, I really am.
I can be such a bastard sometimes.
I’m not done. I feel like I’m just getting started. I felt bad about deceiving my friends. So I decided to take another angle with this little project. In my previous blog, and in this one, I have referenced those “whores.” People that spam the shit out of your feed with stupid comments like, “Wow! This is amazing! Check out my pictures if you’d like! ” Or you’ve definitely seen the, “Awesome! Follow for a follow?” I mean, come on, who hasn’t? Which begs the question, does anyone actually respond to these desperate pleas? Well, there was only one way to find out. Enter phase two, and I became the spamming monster. I spammed all the same people I previously went after. Funny thing is, since IG has implemented their spamming tools, I found it incredibly hard to spam people! IG kept detecting my spamming comments. Which was aggravating but also hilarious to me. I did find that I could get the “Follow for a follow?” through much easier than other spam comments I have seen. I spammed an easy 50 people’s feeds. Any responses? Yup! I got a few. I had left the comment of “Wow! This is amazing! Check out my pictures!” on a few people’s feeds. Two people responded to it. One guy from Juxt stopped by and liked a few of my photos. And one guy from AMPt came by and liked every single one of my pictures and said to me, “Great stream! And welcome to IG!” I thought that was pretty awesome of him.
If what I was going after, was followers, than this method really wasn’t working any better than my original method of just interacting with people. I was about to just throw in the towel until I got a comment from a concerned IGer, @poeticwordvomit. She stopped by my feed to tell me that she noticed I was spamming people. Instead of cursing me out (as I’ve been known to do to people that spam me), she told me that my account may get deleted if I didn’t stop. She even had advice for me. She told me that if followers were what I was looking for, then I should tag my photos. She went on to list all of the different tags I could use. I tried to antagonize her by asking her if the hashtag method was how she had gotten over 800 followers in just under 8 weeks. She was offended. Rightfully so, because she hadn’t. She said, “I have a good number of followers because I have good images, not because of the tags.” I found it pompous that she said that. But I went to her page, and found that her feed is quite amazing. I think she’s allowed to say that she has good images. She went on to say that she rather enjoyed IG because of the relational aspect, not the number of followers she had. Perfect.
I did go on to start tagging all of my photos with all of those irritating tags I see, and lo and behold, people actually started showing up to my page liking my photos and following me. So again, if followers is what I was going after, the hashtag method did seem to be the best way. But this wasn’t supposed to be about the number of followers I could get. Because even right now, the only people that talk to me are Anna & Deb. My new followers were just ghost followers. I did get a couple that did “like” my photos. But without Anna & Deb, this account just feels dead. It’s filled with ghosts and whores. Because when I played the part of the ghost, ghosts are all that I attracted. When I played the part of the whore, whores were the only type of people I brought in. But when I was myself (well, for the most part) I attracted genuine people like Anna & Deb. So I guess you attract what you portray. If you don’t desire to meet new people and make some new friends, just hashtag the crap out of your photos and the ghosts will show up. But if you want to make some genuine relationships, just go to people’s pages and say “Hi” to them. Because there really are people out there on Instagram that are there to meet people with similar interests and make friends.
All in all, Instagram is just an app. It was meant for fun. It was meant to be entertaining. Somehow with all the jazz of the popular page it became something of a contest. So I implore you, just have fun with it. Don’t worry about the attention you receive, or the amount of likes, or the amount of followers. Because honestly, those numbers really don’t even mean anything. I just ran @mykel’s Igexorcist only to find that I had about 4,000 “followers” that never even liked a single one of my pictures. It’s a bloated false sense of self-esteem to say the least that these “followers” will bring. So go find cool people like Anna & Deb. Form relationships. Gather inspiration from each other. Above all else, just have fun.