It’s been about 9 months since I started my Instagram experiment, and if there is one thing I’ve learned it’s this: purposefully maintaining an Instagram account is really hard. From having the time to constantly produce unique content to keeping up with interactions, it’s an exhausting experience. So when I found myself moving into a new apartment and working at a summer camp for a week in the same month, I figured this would be the perfect time to try something new: leaving my Instagram accounts alone.
There are few things that are more frustrating in life than having a problem and not feeling like you’re being heard. It’s even worse when a company sends a robot or auto-generated message your way. While Amazon says it’s trying to fix this, it’s hard to believe most of the time that any messages are being read by actual human beings.
I ran into this issue when a review of mine was taken down without any explanation.
In profiles across Instagram of blossoming Instagrammers you’ll see in their bio lines:
- “DM for collabs”
- “Serious business inquiries only”
- “Email firstname.lastname@example.org for collaborations”
But what does collaborating actually mean? Continue reading
I posted a while back about how I was reposted by a large clothing company and, to my disappointment, it resulted in much less attention than I expected. This experience has been repeated on multiple occasions, but it’s also been challenged.
Earlier this year I responded to a girl’s story on Instagram (it was about guys being jerks to her about being a programmer) with the words “Thank you” which prompted her to look at my profile and message me. She’s a fellow software developer and has a rather large following on Instagram. For whatever reason she liked my profile, screenshotted it, and shared it with her followers
I was a little in awe that she responded to my innocuous message in the first place, so to see her post about my profile completely floored me. That’s also when I began getting bombarded with followers who were obviously checking out my profile from her link. For the next 24 hours every time I opened up Instagram I had a ridiculous number of notifications.
After the Instagram story timed out (after 24 hours) my daily follower average returned back to normal and I went on my way with about 500 more engaged followers.
What made this different than the first big repost?
I have a theory that there are two kinds of accounts:
- There are accounts you follow because you like the photos (the aesthetic, the photography, the brand, etc.)
- And there are accounts you follow because you like the stories (smaller businesses and people)
People feel connected to the accounts that make it feel “personal” – whether it’s because you have the same job or like the same things. When a “personal” account does a repost or gives a shoutout, it’s more like a personal introduction to a friend: “Hi, this person is cool, you should check them out”
If a brand/aesthetics-based account gives a shoutout their followers may or may not respond to it based on if they like that specific photo, product, or idea. The followers may not feel like they “need” to follow someone else if it’s the same aesthetic as the brand because they’re already following the brand.
After I reached a reviewer ranking of less than 80,000 I started getting emails from Amazon sellers asking me to review their products. From an algorithmic standpoint this makes complete sense: products with more (and better) reviews are more likely to be seen by other customers and the best way to advertise to potential customers is by utilizing a system already in place on the website. Sellers will offer cash or heavy discounts to entice people to review their products – some ask for “good” reviews, others just ask for reviews.
Awkwardly, this is completely against Amazon’s stated policy, but it wasn’t always. Continue reading
If you have an internet connection, there’s a pretty good chance that at some point in time you’ve ordered something from Amazon. Amazon is great for retail consumers, it’s great for sellers, it’s great for software developers (Amazon Web Services), it’s great for affiliate marketers, it’s great for people who love instant gratification.
Point being that everyone uses Amazon, but not everyone uses it purposefully. A few months ago I happened to stumble across a few articles about Amazon Top Reviewers and the perks that come with having that title (the perks mostly include getting free things to review). After some hard-hitting research (read: clicking around Amazon) I found Amazon’s ranking criteria:
My first impression: My project manager kept saying we should do Selenium tests to increase our unit test coverage on the front end. Our previous experience was with Karma and Jasmine (which was also kind of painful) so we tried to put it off as much as possible in the interest of doing “actual work”
Second take: Oh my gosh this is witchcraft. When you use Selenium you can basically program a ghost of yourself that is better and faster that can interact with your application and notices when things break (as long as you tell it what to notice).
Getting Started and Useful Information
This is a living document – I’ll add or remove resources if they’re found to be helpful (or if someone recommends a good document)
After hitting 1000 followers I didn’t feel any spectacular change or get any life changing epiphanies, but around 1,100 followers I slowly started to notice a confusing pattern emerge: the photos that I was posting weren’t getting the same engagement that they had been getting in the past. They were the same photos I’d always posted at the same times, but a pet photo that could have gotten seventeen ‘likes’ in four minutes was suddenly taking ten or fifteen minutes to reach that same level. At first I thought maybe there was a delay in the hashtags displaying, but I noticed the photos were still getting a significant number of views so it probably wasn’t an exposure problem.