Why I Started Over on Instagram and Gave Up 18,000 Followers!

I know some of you love seeing the behind the scenes world of blogging and Instagram, while some
of you probably don’t care. If you don’t care, this post is most likely not for you, but either way I need to get some things off my chest.

If you have ever been a blogger, creator, influencer, small business owner, person who uses Instagram more than just posting two margarita deep selfies.. you probably know the in’s and out’s of ‘growing your account for business purposes’. At least to some extent.

If not, here’s a small briefing for ya:
Back in the OG days of IG, growing was a lot easier. Instagram showed posts in chronological order. IG didn’t have an option for ‘paid promotions’. The blogging-sphere was a lot less saturated and there were overall less ways to cheat the system. 

If you got started early, you probably grew a lot faster. But there’s a downside to starting early too.* I started early but didn’t really take it as seriously as I do now. I grew slower and over time collected many accounts that are now spam, inactive, bots, etc.. I never bought followers but I probably collected these because I did do some loop giveaways (term for a large giveaway) back in the day.

*This is TOTALLY my opinion and you don’t have to agree with me. I have done research, tested theories and I think I’m correct on this. I doubt we will ever know the truth but in my opinion, this is what I believe. 

You probably think the dead accounts, let’s call them, don’t matter right? Any follower that adds to your follower count is a good thing right? Well.. no. So brands do like to see you have a lot of followers but now that you can buy followers so easily, they like to see your followers are engaged. If you have X amount of followers yet only get .01% of them active on your account, then that looks bad. This also changes the way IG shows your photos. If less people interact within the first 10ish minutes that you post it, they think it’s not a popular photo and don’t show it on people’s feed. This is why so many of y’all said you no longer were seeing my posts.

I tried so many of the ‘tricks’ to fix this. New hashtags, changing my posting schedule, changing the frequency of my posts, etc. etc.. But y’all, this made Instagram so boring. So time consuming and just such a downer! It was so frustrating to work hard on a post that I think you guys would love (or even have requested multiple times!) only for IG not to show it to even 1/4th of my following.

There’s rumors of a few solutions to this madness (sadly, I’m not the only one who suffers from this IG problem). See there is no concrete solution, there’s no one above me saying ‘Riley, your work is poor this is how you improve‘ like a typical boss could. Yet, we have Facebook groups and IG messages with other bloggers and we have all discussed the rumors.. here’s a few of the ‘popular’ ones. 

  • TELEGRAM PODS. No not Tide Pods, but basically just as nuts. Telegram pods are an app on your phone and it’s basically a giant group message. Some pods have as little as 25 people in it, some have as many as SEVEN THOUSAND. Here’s how they work: Before you can share your link, you must go back and click on the links of the past 24 hours. When you click the link it takes you directly to IG where you like the photo. Once completed, you drop your link and then people begin to like your photos. I don’t necessarily think anything’s wrong with telegram pods, but I don’t think it’s 100% right either. I have tried these before, a while ago, and lemme tell you- if you have time to keep up more power to you. This was clearly not the solution for me! I struggle to even respond to DMs, much less like a bunch of random photos everyday. PS. if you miss anyone you get warned and after two warnings your banned. So it’s stressful! I will say I know girls who are in a small pod, where they all follow each other and communicate with each other and I feel like this is the best way to do a pod. 
  • BOTS! Yes as scary as it sounds, it’s like little IG robots here to take over the world. Ok, maybe this is dramatic but I think bots are ruining the IG world. I don’t know the exact in and outs of the bots but here’s what I do know: it’s a program (? maybe a real person) who goes through and likes thousands of photos for you each day. They can also comment random things (one time, I’m assuming, a bot commented on my photo ‘LOVE your dress’ when it was a picture of a chair.. so yeah). You can apparently set a bot up to like all your telegram links for you? I don’t know but this was definitely not something I wanted to do.
  • MANUALLY REVIEW YOUR FOLLOWERS. So I started this, right before I made my new account. What you do is click on your ‘Following’ on your profile and go through every single person starting at AA, AB, AC, ETC. UNTIL ZZ. If it looks fake, inactive, spam, etc. you block them. Y’all I had blocked over 2,000 people and I was at CA. I just couldn’t do it. 

Ok so the last thing I tried was blocking and it eventually led me to this thought:

Why do I want an Instagram account that I spend hours working on each week if over 80% of the people don’t even care about me. I truly, truly blog because I love it. I love helping people, I love connecting with readers and I love being real with you guys. If the inactive followers are just preventing my posts from being seen and the people who actually want to see them can’t, then I’ll just start over. I would rather connect with 1300 readers than post to 18,000 people who may not even see it. 

Right now it’s a little weird. It’s hard to explain to brands, but in the long run, I think a brand would rather work with someone who is upfront about their following, knows they are all there because the absolutely want to be and truly trust what I’m saying.

BUT my response from some people (mainly bloggers) has been crazy! Some girls get it and completely think it’s a good idea and some think I’m crazy. I had one girl tell me to start using bots and I’ve had girls get angry that I gave up my follower count. But in the end of the day, it’s my account and I can do whatever I want. And truth be told, I still have my old account! If I ever want to go back, I can. It’s just INSTAGRAM y’all. Not the end of the world. 

Here’s what I do know: I’m enjoying it again! I’m getting to connect with you guys on a new level and not feel pressured if something doesn’t “preform well”. I also feel I can be myself again and share exactly what I want to share. My real life. Plus, y’all are seeing my posts again. I only have about 1400 followers right now but my posts are reaching more people than when I had 18,000. Plus, my engagement is up again!

Not to mention, having one account (no more digital account for my business, blog account, personal account) is an attempt to unplug some and get back to real life more often.

If I had pick any of the down sides: I miss swipe up so much. It’s so much easier to share a link with y’all if I can add it to my IG stories. If you’re not familiar, you can only have the swipe up option, once you reach 10k. I have a bit to go but hopefully will get back there soon. I also worry some people don’t know I made a new account and think I just disappeared. I try to go on my old account and remind people but I also don’t want to be annoying. ‘

Anyway, I know in the grand scheme of things it’s whatever but IG is part of my business and my life so I have to pay more attention to it than the average person. If you had no idea that I made a new Instagram you can check it out here: @RileySitton. I hope you have a wonderful weekend! XO 


  1. Catherine Shaw Truelove
    May 26, 2018 / 11:44 am

    This makes so much sense. Stress free and moving on! Good for you. –Cath

    • Riley Brahm
      June 4, 2018 / 9:41 pm

      Thanks Cath!! I appreciate your kind words and you reading along. XO 🙂

  2. Lisa
    June 3, 2018 / 10:32 am

    I just recently started a blog and I want you to know how helpful this post was to me. I love reading your blog and have been going through the archives lol. Love it.

    • Riley Brahm
      June 4, 2018 / 9:41 pm

      Yay!! If you ever have any questions, I'm more than happy to try and help. Thanks so much for reading along. Congrats on starting your own blog. XO

  3. Brandy Metcalf
    June 4, 2018 / 8:27 pm

    I'm so so proud of you. You're right, IT'S JUST IG! It does dictate our lives as business owners but honestly people like reality. You're amazing girl! Keep doing you! xoxo

    • Riley Brahm
      June 4, 2018 / 9:42 pm

      Brandy, THANK YOU!! Your words mean so much, I really can't express how much I appreciate them. Thanks so much for reading along and for being so kind. XO 🙂

  4. gary
    August 16, 2018 / 2:33 pm

    Thank you much!

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