I took a bit of a break from updating this website and after several months I have finally found time to finish this post. Firstly, this is not a post on how to grow your followers on Instagram, so if that is what you were hoping for you might not want to keep reading this. I often get asked about how I started on Instagram and how long I have been on the platform, so I decided to take a trip down memory lane to talk about my Instagram journey and why Instagram is still - despite all the changes and the algorithm- my favourite social media channel.
My first photo on Instagram was posted on New Year's Eve 2011 (I was not one of the early adaptors) and it is still there - I have not deleted it, yet, though I did change my handle, I started as steffi.gb. I downloaded the app after getting my first iPhone, I remember being quite happy with my Blackberry and didnt see the appeal of owning an iPhone, or so I thought until I was having lunch with a colleague and she was taking photos and posting them on Instagram. I realised the camera on the phone was much better than the one on my Blackberry, I upgraded as soon as I had the chance.
I have always enjoyed taking photos, discovering Instagram reignited that passion and, even though at that particular time I could not invest in a DSLR, I could still share my mobile phone photos. I was hooked from the start and particularly enjoying connecting with people from all over the world,"visiting" places, exploring London and seeing different areas (especially those I never been to) from the comfort of my home.
In my early IG
days years, you will find over saturated photos, all the IG filters (Earlybird forever) and a lot of enthusiasm for this platform. I soon joined Londonpop, a London hub organizing evening posting sessions, the idea was that all participants would post a London photo between 8 pm and 830 pm using the tag created for the session and will engage with the photos posted. Again, I loved connecting with the community, getting feedback on my photos and finding inspiration.
It was not long before I experienced the community side also in real life when I attended my first instameet organised by London. I remember when Rosella suggested it, my response was "What do people do at an instameet? Walk around taking photos together?" it was that -as it turned out- and so much more, it was an afternoon of connection, discovery, fun, even though I probably talked to a couple of people out of the hundreds at the meet. I remember clearly how I felt when I got home that evening, so energized and wanting more.
Hey #London! Just reflecting back to last Sunday's #LondonMeet_Feb14! It was crazy!!! 😂 This was our #instagrammerdown moment in #TrafalgarSquare. We didn't half get some funny looks! Credit to the talented @p_d_y for the shot and @byrnephotography for the edit. 😎👊 •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• ❤️ If you think your friends would love the @London feed, please tag them in the comments! ❤️ •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• #ilovelondon #londoners #thisislondon #londonpop #london_only #instalondon #ldn #igerslondon #uk #igers_london #ic_cities_london #insta_uk #top_masters #photooftheday #fabshots #igersmasterclass #webstagram #jj_forum #bestoftheday #instagood #rsa_streetview #rsa_mycity #allshots_ #timeoutlondon
Attending meet ups became one of my favourite activities to do, reason being I was meeting so many like minded and creative people. Pete is one of them, I met him at a meet up he organised in London, he inspired me to start organizing my own meet ups. So I did, with two friends, it was a completely different format than the other meet ups I have ever been to, as the idea was to start with a brunch followed by a walk: when people are all sat around the same table, it is impossible not to connect, where it is quite easy to only talk to a handful of people when joining a walk.
It started as #thelondonbrunchclub, it became welovetobrunch, we have hosted meet ups regularly in and outside London and even branched out to Berlin. It has also been featured by Instagram for WWIM14 (WWIM = World Wide Insta Mee taking place approximately twice a year, every time with a different theme).
At the same time welovetobrunch was born, I became a Suggested User- which meant Instagram was recommending my account to new users, my account grew from just above 2k followers to over 50k in just two weeks- a crazy ride which brought me lots of inactive followers.
It has been a while since I visited this place, so if you fancy a walk around Chiswick House Gardens and the riverside, join us on Sunday 23 November from 1pm. It all started when @siobhaise and I decided it was about time we meet and the group kept getting bigger. A few of us will be having brunch at @OutsiderTart, still a few places left if you want to join us for food. Just leave a comment or DM me. I think #thelondonbrunchclub is now officially open!
Instagram was very different back then, the Suggested User feature is not there anymore, accounts now grow their audience in different ways and there are many different theories on IG algorithm to detail what works and what doesn't. I believe nowadays there are way more "strategies" being implemented by users to gain more followers, including: buying likes/ followers, follow/ unfollow tactics, pods for comments, pods for featuring each other on stories.
I don't agree with any of them and, in particular, I strongly disagree with anyone buying followers, likes and following/ unfollowing. There is a site where you can see whether users are growing in a honest way, Socialblade will detail daily following activities and it is quite clear when users are adopting the follow/ unfollow strategy. You can find a more detailed explanation in Nik Speller's post.
Despite the changes, including the new algorithm, Instagram is still my preferred social media, the reason? The sense of community, being able to go from virtual reality to reality, through this app I have built a large network of connections in London and I have met most of my friends on this platform (either at meet ups or events). Another positive for me is that I have also been able to work with brands in creating content and I have been on trips all thanks to this app.
Most importantly, it enabled me to be part of a something bigger: founded by Jo just over a year ago, Creating For Good is a collective of Instagrammers raising money for charity by organizing workshop and events, we donate 100% of the profits of everything we do and so far we have raised more than £10,000, which I find mind blowing. We are currently busy preparing for our next event- a creative conference on 21st April. More info here.
So Vero might be the next big social media platform, however I am not rushing to leave Instagram and I will continue to organize meet and nurture my community.