Let me take you to a place where membership’s a free account, where there’s blue ticks for the stars. Where strangers send you strange DMs, in some cases you might block them, if they go a bit too far. Sorry I got a little bit carried away with re-writing Club Tropicana there. This post is a little departure from the usual travel fare but I’m not gonna lie to you Gwen, content is a little thin on the ground when it comes to travel. Particularly of the contemporaneous variety so I’ve been forced to think outside of the box. Out of one box and in to an app composed of many boxes containing pictures and videos. It’s time to talk Instagram.
This blog was my little side project during lockdown. A big tool for driving readers here has been Instagram. You came here from Instagram didn’t you? Thought I recognised that face. As writers block had a hold on me, my Instagram game also slipped. What didn’t slip was my time spent on the app though. Not good. At the time of writing this blog entry I had made one Instagram post within the last week to promote a new blog post. During that time my average daily Instagram activity was a whopping 45 minutes. Daily. Gulp. When confronted with figures like this I try to do a little mental arithmetic and then resort to firing up my calculator (another app, more screen time). 45 minutes a day, 365 days a year equates to 16,425 minutes. That’s 273 and-a-quarter hours or almost 11 and-a-half days. On Instagram. Imagine what I could do with that time back. I could go on holiday and create some content for my blog perhaps. Then post it on Instagram. Oh.
Wondering what your time spent on Instagram is? This information can be found in the activity part of your Instagram account. Go check it, I’ll wait… Scary right?
With this in mind, I’ve made a resolution not to knock “The Gram” on the head, but to make the most of the time I spend on the app. Instagram is a fantastic tool for inspiration and research. As opposed to a Google search throwing up dry word documents and heavily edited propaganda, if I’m interested in a certain place I can search said location on Instagram or whack a hashtag before it and I’m straight there, immersed in what it actually looks like and what other Instagram users think of the place. On the other hand, scrolling my feed I can stumble across a beautiful scene, somewhere completely unknown to me before that moment, bang, it’s on the bucket list. This is just scratching the surface. While in 2020 it was almost impossible to travel anywhere, one place I didn’t want to visit but constantly got dragged to was down rabbit holes filled with memes and TikTok videos. For 45 minutes a day apparently.
On the other side, there is the popularity contest aspect to things. We are very quick to be bogged down in likes and follows. It is like our brains have been trained to respond positively to notifications, craving and searching for more. Personally I have spurts of such behaviour and then become disenchanted. Perhaps because the likes and follows aren’t flowing in as much as my subconscious would like them to be. I catch myself in this process and immediately cool off from the app. At least from posting anyway. Someone has to watch those TikToks. This in turn puts me off writing posts and a vicious circle ensues. It is scary how much control an app can have over a human mind, even subconsciously. I never want to turn in to an Insta-junkie craving that next hit and needing more each time to get my satisfaction. So I need to make my screen time as efficient as possible.
But how do I go about making my Instagram time more efficient. The answer is more posts. It could well be an old wives tale but somewhere in the ether of the past I stumbled upon a piece of information that suggested a Instagram account that makes three posts a day generally will clock up circa 30,000 followers. This bit being of interest will make sense in the next paragraph. In the week I averaged 45 minutes a day perusing the app I made one post promoting a blog post. Amateur numbers, I need to up those numbers. Taking this on board I’ve dusted off my goggles and bunsen burner in the name of an experiment which may use up all of my photographic content. I’ll be upping my Instagram posting for the next month at least. Spam! Spam for everybody! My Instagram feed may resemble an episode of Brainiac as I try some new things in the near future but I promise to keep it a Richard Hammond free zone.
Fame and fortune have never been at the front of my mind but being popular on Instagram comes with some advantages that I would love to harness. The holy grail as a blogger is the 10,000 follower mark. If I hit that number I can add the swipe up option to stories to bring viewers straight to articles like this rather than finding different ways of wording, “link in my bio,” at the end of every single post. If you’re fed up of reading it, imagine how I feel having to write it. I would be a liar if I said I didn’t want to monetise what I’m doing here but what travel blogger doesn’t want to be able to do what they love and earn their living from it? I have also realised that a blue tick next to my name is the only way I’ll ever be able to appear on Richard Osman’s House of Games or challenge Floyd Mayweather to a Boxing match. The ultimate goal is to get my writing in front of as many eyes as possible.
Doing good “numbers” on Instagram hasn’t consciously crossed my mind much since Free Range Ben became a thing. In the past it is something I did get bogged down in. Something I will go into with a post about how I failed at being a travel blogger a few years ago. With that being said, my (not New Year’s) resolution is to increase my Instagram efficiency and also to go all Indiana Jones on it in my hunt for that 10k holy grail. Oh, and if anyone can get in contact with Richard Osman for me about relaxing the rules on who is allowed on House of Games that would be much appreciated too.