My Instagram Pet Peeves
Instagram is a fun platform, and probably my favorite social media outlet right now, but it provokes a decent amount of eye rolls. I feel like I see a lot of annoying behaviors on my feed coming from people who are desperate to grow their follower count, but don’t go about it in the best way. Don’t get me wrong - I want to grow my account and following too. But not falsely, and not in an inauthentic manner. I believe that if someone doesn't genuinely care about my content, they shouldn’t be forced to follow me. If you don’t want to follow me, that’s cool. I don’t follow people I don’t want to follow.
I rounded up a list of a few behaviors from individual users (the list for what brands do is that drives me crazy is even longer) I find frustrating on Instagram, some of which I know are universally disliked. Some may not be. Take a look:
The follow/unfollow game. This is the most blatantly obvious way to tell if someone is just trying to gain followers. A lot of bloggers will go through and follow hundreds of accounts they think might like their content, see if the accounts follow them back, and then unfollow those people a few weeks later. Chances are, some people don’t notice, and that blogger or account gains a couple hundred new followers. I find this practice super gross because it reeks of desperation and it’s just so fake. I noticed it happening so often that I actually starting using one of those unfollow apps so I could see who unfollows me. If a blogger/influencer follows and then unfollows me within a span of a few weeks, and I know they never engaged with my posts (I have a small enough following that it’s easy to see who does and doesn’t engage), I know that they’re playing the game. Sometimes, if I followed them, I unfollow, because I’m not trying to support that kind of behavior. If you can’t get an authentic following, you don’t deserve a following at all.
Commenting “follow for follow?” or asking people to check out your feed. This isn’t as bad, but I find it sort of annoying when people go through and like a ton of my posts, then comment on one with something like “Great feed, girl! You should check mine out too [too many emojis].” If you want people to check out your content, engage with them in a real way, not a fake, copy-paste way. When I like an account, I like their posts and comment on any of the ones that speak to me. That has resulted in some cool friendships and mutual followings, and those few connections mean so much more to me than if I had pestered 20 people into following me. “Follow for follow” is similar - asking someone if they will follow you back when you follow them is basically just saying “i don’t care if either of us enjoy the other’s content, let’s just add to our follower counts. That may work for some people, but it makes me feel icky. That’s personally not the Instagram experience I want.
Reposting artists without credit. This one really pisses me off. I follow a lot of small artists on Instagram and all of them have one thing in common: they’re often talking about how often their work gets shared without any credit. In some cases, like @theuncommonplace and @dazey_la, these creators actually see companies ripping off and profiting off their designs. That’s a problem that extends beyond Instagram, but it’s still annoying. You can’t use the work of someone else to boost your profile - if you can’t create it, you can’t benefit from it. Many artists also are fine with you sharing their work as long as you ask first and give credit - which is so, so easy to do. Want to repost a graphic? Just shoot the original artist a DM and ask if you can post the image. The people who don’t do this are inconsiderate and get engagement they don’t deserve, which isn’t right.
Posting images from Pinterest or free stock images just to get engagement. This is similar to the previous one - people sharing content that isn’t theirs in order to earn engagement and create a specific aesthetic. Free stock images aren’t that bad - they are free, but I personally think it’s kind of weak to post them and shows a lack of creativity. But taking photos from Pinterest is almost the same as stealing people’s art. It’s hard to ever know where anything comes from on Pinterest, which is a shame for many reasons, but many Instagrammers will take cute photos from Pinterest and post them, then mention at the bottom of their caption (after many dots/new lines/emojis) that the photo is from Pinterest. Again, it really reeks of a lack of creativity.
Promoting detox teas. I think sponsored posts are great, I do them often, and as long as you actually like a product, I don’t see a problem in receiving compensation for posting about it. However, the fit tummy/detox teas are a disgusting trend that I absolutely cannot support. For one, these products are not FDA approved and a viable substitute for healthy eating and exercise. The worst thing about these teas is that they contribute to society’s obsession with weight. It’s gross to market them to the masses on social media, because a lot of impressionable young people will see these posts and think that a) their body insecurities are valid and there is something wrong with them that they need to fix and b) that they can make a change in their life by drinking tea every day, not changing to an active and healthy lifestyle. Anyone who promotes these teas is not a body positivity addict and in my book, they’re benefitting from toying with the self-esteem of others. Posting about these teas guarantees an automatic unfollow from me.
Giveaways where you have to follow 20+ accounts to enter. These don’t have me nearly as heated as detox tea or stealing an artist’s work, but I think they’re a bit annoying. The more hoops to jump through, the less likely I am to enter anything, and I think they’re sort of shady. I have no idea if they’re scams or not, but I just don’t get a good vibe from them. This giveaway platform is a way to acquire a mass amount of followers who don’t care about your content, they probably just want to win. I don’t see how it’s worth it and probably wouldn’t participate in one myself.
You may disagree with me on all of these fronts, or just not care enough to be annoyed by these behaviors. But for me, this stuff brings by Instagram experience down a bit, and in some cases, really bums me out. I want to follow authentic, honest people on Instagram who deserve large followings due to their creativity. Not because they took shortcuts just so they could be famous influencers.
You can be genuine on Instagram and not take it too seriously or you can stress out about follower counts and play games using shady tactics. It’s up to you, but I think your life will be far better if you go for the former.
What are your Instagram pet peeves?