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My Love-Hate Relationship with Instagram and Finding Positivity in Change

On a usual cloudy morning here in The Netherlands, the thought of writing about my experiences with Instagram started to bubble up in my mind. I was staring at a blank page on my computer, and the cursor was just blinking away, almost like it was daring me to start typing.


Could I really encapsulate the rollercoaster ride that Instagram has been? The constant algorithm updates, the fluctuation in reach, and the relentless pursuit of likes and comments had taken its toll. Yet, here I was, ready to unravel the intricacies of my love-hate relationship with this social media titan.



starting to write


The Encouraging Push from a Digital Ally

The final push to pen this blog came from an unexpected nudge by an Instagram buddy, a fellow content creator from Ireland (Rachel from @raysmoneypit - well worth a follow!). Despite the miles that separate us and having never met in the flesh, we've forged a friendship in the digital threads of Instagram. She, too, has navigated the murky waters of fluctuating engagement and the silent battles with the algorithm.


When I voiced my hesitation, concerned about how my transparency might sit with commercial partners, she was the one who tipped the scales. "Tell it like it is," she said. "It's the truth of our times, and that's a story worth telling; your commercial partners will appreciate it." Her conviction echoed my sentiments; it's the authentic experiences that resonate, and in sharing those, we provide a genuine narrative that both creators and brands need to acknowledge in this ever-evolving social media landscape.


Instagram's Impact: Routine, Influence, Complexity, Frustration, and Reflection

In today's digital landscape, where each swipe on our screens unveils a fresh perspective or idea, Instagram has played a significant role in shaping my daily routine for the better part of the last five years. As someone who wears many hats—those of an interior design tutor, influencer, a content creator, and a digital nomad—I've experienced a complex relationship with this social media platform. It's a relationship that's been woven from threads of both deep appreciation and palpable frustration.


instagram love hate relationship

I've decided to share my journey, one that's been fraught with moments of uncertainty, especially as I considered whether to pen this article. I've often found myself at odds with Instagram, feeling the strain of a love-hate dynamic with this silly app that has so fundamentally influenced my professional and personal life.


How Instagram Has Evolved Over the Years and THE Algorithm

As I reflect on this relationship, it's impossible to ignore how Instagram has evolved over the years. What started as a simple, photo-sharing app has morphed into an intricate network where videos, stories, and direct messages coalesce into a tapestry of online interaction. This evolution came with its challenges, particularly as the ever-changing algorithm seemed to play a game of cat and mouse with content creators like myself, making it increasingly difficult to maintain, let alone increase, the reach of our work.


camera on a tripod - plant photogrtaphy

Scrolling through my Instagram feed, I'm often greeted by a multitude of creators who seem to have the secret formula to success on the platform, each one claiming they've cracked the code to rapid growth. But the reality is, no one can predict the whims and workings of Instagram's ever-changing algorithm with absolute certainty. Sure, there are aspects within our control, crafting high-quality content, infusing our accounts with consistent energy and engagement, but a significant slice of the Instagram growth pie boils down to chance. Sometimes, despite doing everything 'right,' a post may not perform as expected, while another unexpectedly takes off. It's this unpredictable nature that reminds us that, while we can steer our efforts, sometimes we're just riding the waves of digital destiny.


Instagram Reach has Gone Down

The past year has been especially trying for me, as I've noticed my reach diminish significantly. It's a trend that many of us in the influencer community have observed, and it's been disheartening to witness the decline in engagement and the reduced visibility of our content. This phenomenon isn't unique to me; it's a shared experience among many creators on Instagram who have felt the impact of these algorithmic shifts.


whisperingbold instagram feed

When my follower count hit the 100,000 mark, I was over the moon—it felt like I'd crossed some sort of magical threshold in the world of social media. But that high was relatively short-lived, as the numbers dipped back down below that coveted line this year. The reels that once catapulted me into virality no longer seemed to have the same explosive effect. Initially, it was a tough pill to swallow, yet I soon realised that maybe this dip wasn't as significant as it seemed.


The Choice to Stop Obsessing over Instagram Statistics

I made a conscious decision to stop obsessing over statistics (I am the first to admit that's easier said than done). The metrics of likes, comments, and follower counts were once my compass, guiding my content creation and social media strategies. However, I've come to realise that these numbers, while valuable, don't paint the full picture.


influencer with minin doodle puppy

Many of the followers that come with a viral hit aren't always aligned with my target audience—they're just passersby in the vast digital landscape. The followers who matter, the ones truly relevant to my niche and to whom commercial partners are looking to connect, are those who stick around for the content, not just the hype. These are the individuals who engage genuinely with my posts and represent the core of my online community.


I've chosen to focus on the positives—an approach that has not only helped me maintain my sanity but also allowed me to appreciate the platform for what it has given me.

Instagram metrics, while useful for a snapshot of surface-level engagement, often miss the mark in capturing the full scope of story views, my blog, my newsletters and the depth of interaction that truly matters to commercial partners. As an influencer with an established brand, the value I bring to the table extends far beyond mere likes and comments. It's about delivering high-quality content that not only resonates with my audience but also serves as a valuable asset for partners to repurpose across their own marketing channels.


urban chic vintage dining room with pink rib cord dining chairs

This symbiotic relationship is rooted in the targeted and loyal audience I've cultivated over time, an audience that trusts my voice and is receptive to the messages I share. The real currency here is the influence I put to use and the tangible results it drives for those I collaborate with, something that standard metrics can't fully quantify.


But more importantly, the metrics don't capture the essence of what my work on Instagram has truly brought into my life.


Focus on the Instagram Positives

I've chosen to focus on the positives, an approach that has not only helped me maintain my sanity but also allowed me to appreciate the platform for what it has given me. Instagram has been instrumental in shaping the life I lead today. From the job that I am passionate about to the valuable contacts I've made, the platform has opened doors that would have otherwise remained closed.


As an influencer with an established brand, the value I bring to the table extends far beyond mere likes and comments.

The connections I've forged through Instagram have led to meaningful collaborations with a dedicated following. These loyal followers have not only supported my work but also engaged with it in ways that are both affirming and inspiring. Furthermore, the ability to target a specific audience has been very beneficial for commercial marketing, enabling me to reach the people most likely to resonate with my brand.



transitional style living room in period property


The Greatest Instagram Gift

One of the greatest gifts Instagram has afforded me is the freedom to work from anywhere and at any time. This flexibility is something I treasure, as it aligns perfectly with my lifestyle as a digital nomad. Instagram reconnected me with The Interior Design Institute which offered me a job as a worldwide online interior design tutor and brought me in touch with many commercial partners I work with today.


It allowed me to quit my corporate career in the medical industry, and work my own hours doing, whenever and wherever I want. This was the ultimate life goal for me, being able to do what I love, while at the same time being there for my kids while they are growing up.


Instagram has granted me the ultimate luxury – the freedom to work from anywhere, at any time.

Instagram has granted me the ultimate luxury – the freedom to work from anywhere, at any time. Whether it's from my home in Haarlem, while on the road visiting our family in Australia or from my holiday home in Valencia; my office is wherever my smartphone and computer are. Despite the complexities, Instagram has been the architect of my current life. It's where I carved out a career that many dream of, but few achieve.


Pool deck with expansive views of country side Valencia
My 'office' in Valencia

The job I hold today, the contacts in my address book, and the collaborations that have enriched my portfolio are testaments to the transformative power of Instagram. The platform has helped create a niche for myself in an ever-changing environment, adapting to trends while staying true to my unique voice and vision.


Embrace the Change

As I navigate through the complexities of Instagram, I've learned to embrace its transformative power. Frankly, I didn't have a choice. Despite the algorithmic changes and the fluctuating reach, the platform remains a cornerstone of my digital existence. It's a space where I can create, connect, and cultivate a career on my own terms.


influencer on phone with doodle puppy

So, as I share this blog with you, I encourage you to consider the fuller spectrum of what social media, particularly Instagram, can offer. Look beyond the numbers, stop caring, and you may just find a path to an enriched life and a thriving career, just as I have.


Thank you so much for sticking with me to the end of this tale. It's been quite a journey, with its ups and downs, and sharing it with you has been both liberating and affirming. If you've ever experienced the rollercoaster of social media metrics or found yourself chasing a number that ultimately didn't reflect your true value, I'd love to hear your story. You are not alone. Feel free to share this post with anyone who needs to hear that 'likes' do not define your success as a person.


'Likes' do not define your success as a person.

Drop a comment below and let's continue the conversation. Your insights and experiences are what make this community so rich and diverse, and I'm here for all of it. Let's keep learning from each other and growing together.







4 comments

4 Comments


Love the last quote “Likes do not define your success as a person.” Such an important concept to accept on all social media, but very hard to accept. This post really hit home. I have temporarily, I think, stopped posting on Instagram in the past year—-be it fear of over sharing or obsessing over not posting enough! I do follow a few individuals who I still enjoy interacting with and feel they are real people with real lives, normal kids and imperfect homes they love. I actually lost interest in redesigning my current kitchen last year because I was bombarded by Instagram with suggested influencers to follow who had the best kitchen ideas. I became obsessed with finding the perfect…

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Marieke
Marieke
Jan 27
Replying to

I love the long post Deborah! And this is exactly what I am doing it for. That it hits home for people who follow me, love what I do and enjoy reading my posts. It’s not about the perfect life. That doesn’t exist. It’s whatever works for you. Then it’s perfect. Of course we can be inspired by others, but you be you. That’s when you’re happiest. xx

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Wat een timing. Ik deelde “toevallig” gisteren nog met mijn man dat het anders moet mbt instagram omdat ik het anders niet meer leuk vind en dus niet vol te houden. Terwijl ik er juist idd ook zoveel moois uit haal. Conclusie was voor mij ook: loslaten 💕 hoop dat t lukt.

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Marieke
Marieke
Jan 27
Replying to

Dat kan jij vast! Blijven doen wat je leuk vindt, anders houd je het niet vol. Laat een app niet dicteren hoe je je voelt, en geniet van het mooie!

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Marieke Rijksen - Whispering Bold.jpg

Hi! Thanks for stopping by.

I am Marieke, a Dutch Australian interior designer, business executive, tutor, content creator and social media influencer.

 

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