Is Instagram Necessary For Bloggers?

(This week I want to share a few posts that have been sitting in my draft folder for a couple months.  I wrote these a while ago, but just didn't feel like I was ready to share my thoughts yet.  But as I am looking at making some big changes regarding my personal use of social media, I thought this was a good time to share the things that have been stirring around in my mind. This post was written in October.)

Instagram came on the scene right when blogging was at it’s heyday, and the general advice at that time was that every time a new social media platform came on the scene, you snagged up your username.  So when Instagram arrived, I did the thing that good bloggers do - I jumped right on and snagged up my personal username, and my blog username.  Instagram seemed like a good platform for connecting with readers in a new, personal, and instant way.  It was fun, at first.

But over time, I don’t know…it seems like Instagram, in combination with other social media platforms, kind of killed blogging.  

I get why it happened.  Instagram was so…easy.  At a time when all the bloggers who seemed to know what they were doing recommended that you needed to get away from free platforms, buy a domain, set up a custom website, make sure your content looked professional and had pinnable images…Instagram required so much less effort and technical know-how to get started.  People started “blogging” on Instagram - it was quicker, and you didn’t need to sit down at a computer or know html code to do it.  That’s where the readers, old and new, seemed to be.

Anyway, fast forward ten years, and here we are, where it almost feels like an old-school blog is obsolete, unless it’s accompanied by a much-more-active Instagram account.  

And I hate that this is the way it is now.

Those of you who follow my blog account might have noticed I was putting more effort into my blog Instagram account for a few weeks there in September.  I’m not sure what prompted me to do this, aside from thinking that maybe I could get people to hop over and read my blog if I put a little more effort in.  But I think there was a part of me that was also trying to figure out if Instagram was the new blog world - if spending a little more time interacting on Instagram might bring back that old sense of connectedness that I had previously found with old-school blogging.  I wanted to see how much effort it took to reach new people on Instagram with my public account, and if it was a good medium for finding that reciprocity that we bloggers used to enjoy.  You know, returning comments, reading each other’s blog, linking to each other in the sidebar - all that was so fun back in the day.  I guess it was an unconscious experiment for me.

After two weeks of complete dissatisfaction with the amount of time I was spending on my phone, my sweet husband took time to listen to my discouraged ranting about Instagram. I was discouraged because as much time as I was spending on Instagram, something was missing for me, and I always left it feeling dissatisfied.

Derek’s social media philosophy is “this is why I am not on Facebook/Instagram!”  But he took the time to hear me out and listen to my struggles.  While I got Facebook under control last year, I wasn’t sure what to do with Instagram.  Because it seemed to me Instagram is necessary for bloggers these days.

As I started to talk with Derek about it, though, I started to question my own assumption about that.  People say if you’re a blogger, you need to be on Instagram, but I’m not sure if that’s always true.  Maybe it’s necessary for bloggers who want to earn an income through sponsorships - a lot of the sponsorships are on Instagram right now.  Maybe it’s necessary for bloggers who need the numbers to show to sponsors.  Maybe it’s necessary for bloggers who want a big following to achieve other goals.

But I’ve never really blogged for the numbers, and that’s kind of what I hate about Instagram.  No matter how much you try to connect, in the end so much of it is just a bunch of people chasing numbers - numbers of likes, numbers of comments, numbers of followers.  Numbers of dollars that you make off all that.

Don’t get me wrong, I know and follow plenty of girls who I think want to use their influence on Instagram to truly connect with people and bring glory to God.  I admire some of those Instagrammers I know, and I don’t think there is anything wrong necessarily with putting in the effort there if that’s what you want to do.

But I’ve realized I don’t want to put the effort into Instagram.  I’m not trying to earn money.  I don’t need a big number of followers to feel significant.  And likes are nice, but I don’t want that to be what I write for.

I have met many friends on Instagram over the years that I appreciate, that have turned into connections outside of the platform, and for those girls I am grateful!  But unfortunately that doesn't happen very often.  And fortunately there are other places to keep up with people online (like...blogs).

So is Instagram really necessary for bloggers today?  I guess it depends on what your goals are.  If your goal is to try to reach the biggest number of readers possible, you might do well to focus all your energy on Instagram.  

Or you might dig into your stats like I did and be surprised at what you find.  While I might get a few new people reading my blog through Instagram, the stats show it’s not a significant number.  I stepped away from trying to earn money from this blog a long time ago, because it sucked the joy out of it for me.  Because of that, gaining Instagram followers would just be an exercise in obtaining bragging rights, at the cost of time I could spend doing something more fulfilling.  

I just want to write, and I believe the people who really count will still come around to read.

And even if they don’t, I enjoy writing on this blog - I’ve always enjoyed it, just for the sake of writing, and sharing my thoughts with people who care to read them, and having a space on the internet that feels like it’s only mine, without it demanding my constant attention.  It’s okay to do something completely disconnected from the numbers, for no other reason than to enjoy doing it.  I think we forget that sometimes.

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Cassidy Robinson said...

Oh Callie, I love these thoughts! And I do agree, Instagram killed blogging. I have wanted to bring back the old blogging days many times and just don’t have energy to make it happen. But I will continue to read yours and you inspire me to write more! Also, my least favorite thing about old school blogs is commenting and having to sign in each time. But I did it for you! I know, first world problems. Ha!

Callie said...

Ah, Cassidy, I wish I could solve the commenting problems for you, ha! Maybe I need to look into comment system options again...but I feel really special that you signed in for me. 😉 Thank you for always being so encouraging. ❤️ I LOVE whenever I see a new post from you, so I will be there for it if you ever decide to pick it up again! 😀

Michelle said...

I love this, and I completely agree! Whenever I start putting energy to Instagram, I start feeling kind of gross and unsatisfied after awhile. I love writing out a story on my blog when I feel the urge to do it, even if it’s a much smaller audience than it used to be.

Elizabeth said...

You READ MY MIND again! Was just going to write about this. If there are two of us then maybe there are more? I was thinking how everyone started "blogging" on Instagram, which is interesting to read, but honestly it's just not my style. I toyed with the idea of typing up blog posts and pasting into Instagram (as I'm assuming people do?), but ultimately I don't know if that's the audience I want. I do want like-minded people to find my blog (when I return to posting), but I don't want the whole world seeing it, I guess. I purposely don't post a lot of personal thoughts on Instagram because I just don't really want to be out there as much as Instagram personalities are. And yet, it feels like no one reads blogs these days. But like I said, there are a few people left...we just have to find them. :) I wonder what could be done to get more bloggers together? In the old days they would just kind of follow each other's links?

Elizabeth said...

Also, I would love to share this post. I think it would generate some good discussion...if there is anyone else out there that hasn't completely switched to Instagram. :)

Jenny said...

What I love about your blog is that it’s “old school” so to speak. I’ve been reading blogs for the last 10 years and I’ve lost interest in so many of my original ones because you can tell when they are posting for numbers instead of just because it means something to them. Your blog still has that charm of blogging for blogging’s sake and I love it for that. I wish I’d found you sooner than just 2-3 years ago! Anyway, I’m glad I made the decision to not join Instragram or Twitter back when they started- I know they would’ve sucked me in just like FB did... You are inspiring for leaving these platforms behind. Keep on writing and I’ll keep reading 💗

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