For the last 2+ years, our lives have been directly connected to Instagram, as it is our largest platform for Searching For Sero. Things were great, the page was growing (slowly and organically) and photos were getting likes in comments.We were happy with the result.
A bit of a change happened in the #vanlife community though. Several accounts pledge more to show “the real #vanlife”, not the “glorious, parked on a beach every night” one. Which don’t get me wrong, there are lots of those nights, but there are also lots of Walmart nights. This concept of the “fake” #vanlife on Instagram got me digging into things a little more.
I started to notice more and more folks pop up with Westfalia’s and “real” #vanlife Instagram accounts. At this point, the van had been across Canada, and across the US and was working on its 2nd leg across the US. Our van is decked out with our project and social accounts. We had picked up about 6000 followers, we were stoked.
But I noticed some other guys, with 2 weeks on the road and no logo, no promo on their vans, had already hit 20k, 50k, 100k, some having posted less than 100 photos.
I started to ask myself, “what are we doing wrong?” I got into research mode, both on how to grow an Instagram account, and what these other folks were doing to get such great growth. Because wether you like it or not, these number matter. Not to me, not to Tracy, but to the people we deal with on a daily basis. Those who have the means to make this project and fundraising a successful one look at those numbers.
This is when I realized how fake Instagram really is. And I am not talking about the life stories we portray on the platform either.
Many of these pop up accounts had purchased their following. Essentially paying for someone to create fake accounts and follow them. It went on further to fake likes and fake comments, “Great job! Keep it up!”
More research brought me to Instagram bots. These are little scripts, that you again pay for and get set up to comment and like for you, hoping that your bot commenting on someones photo will get them to follow you.
I sat back and started thinking, so the life stories portrayed on the platform are often not the full truth and the followers, likes and comments are mostly fake. What are we so attracted to on this platform and why do people feel the need to buy likes and followers?
Is it to make a quick buck from sponsorship dollars? Is it to win the popularity contest? Or just the social need to feel liked, even if it is fake?
There is no doubt that getting that like is addicting. But at what cost? Is it worth it?