Let’s talk about Instagram || Part One

Let’s talk about Instagram || Part One


I have a love / hate relationship with this photo sharing app.  I joined the ‘gram about seven years ago under the name ’27something’. I mainly posted heavily edited photos of cups of coffee and other crap that was cropped into a circle. I even had my own hashtag  #27somethingcircleoflove OH MY!

I had developed a new found love for photography and backed by a strong community, Instagram friendships soon turned into real friendships.

In the early days I’d seen a handful of my followers become suggested users and I desperately wanted to become part of that ‘club’. My invite arrived on the Nineteenth of June Twenty Fourteen. I woke that morning to see that Instagram had followed me!

ME!!!!!I knew instantly that things were about to get interesting and low and behold my long-awaited DM from Instagram arrived.
I was finally a SUGGESTED USER…

Instagram Suggested User

I had won the Instagram lottery and I was ecstatic. I can’t recall how many followers I had at the time but for the next two weeks thousands upon thousands of people followed me.

Being a suggested user meant that anyone signing up to the app received a list of around twenty people that Instagram suggested they should follow. In my time on Instagram I have been a suggested user twice and my follower count has reached around 80K.

When I was pregnant in 2015 I took a little break from the app purely because I didn’t have anything interesting to post. After returning from a social media break I realised that things weren’t as they should be. My engagement was shocking, my followers had dropped significantly and my photos weren’t getting as much love as they used to get. I put this down to my time off and carried on as normal.

Months went by and I began to fall out of love with the app. The community I once had simply wasn’t there anymore. Last year I launched ohsolovelyhelen.com and I felt that I needed to reignite my love for Instagram. I put in the graft but my photos were still going unnoticed and most certainly weren’t getting as many likes as other ‘grammers in the same niche with a similar follower count.

I realise that it’s ‘only an app’ but I was crushed. I took a good hard look at my followers and I soon realised that a lot of them either had no profile picture, no posts or hadn’t been active since 2014. I took action and downloaded an app that would mass delete these accounts. Even though I blocked around 20K accounts, my engagement was still poor. It was clear that I had been hit good and hard with ‘THE CURSE OF THE SUGGESTED USER’.

I set about see how many of my fellow Instagrammers has also been hit by ‘the curse’.

My longest Instagram friend, Jules from thisisjules.com was also a suggested user but wayyyyy before me in 2012. Jules comments ‘When being selected as a Suggested User was a thing – it was pretty much the highest of Instagram accolades.’ At the time Jules had around 12K followers and during her 2 weeks of ‘Insta Fame’ grew her following to 36K followers but then, as she puts it, came the fallout….also known as ‘The Curse’.

From the moment I was taken off the Suggested User list, my followers began to drop. And drop. They dropped for six months or so before they levelled out and my following started growing again. In that time, I lost 4,000 plus followers in total. What’s more despite the huge growth, once I was off the list my engagement wasn’t any improved than what it had been at 12K. Well perhaps it had improved a little – but we’re talking a smidgen’. 

That was six years ago for Jules and with mega dedication to the ‘gram she is now building some momentum with her follower count. Go Jules. But for Jules, myself and many others it has been its been an uphill struggle because let’s face it even though being a suggested user was the ‘highest of Instagram accolades’ it god dam sucks now! Yes everyone who was lucky enough to be put on the list gained thousands of new followers but its no good if they are not engaging with your content and they only followed you because Instagram ‘suggested’ that they do so.

I asked my fellow followers what they thought about Instagram….You can read their comments on the below post. Another fellow suggester user, Rebecca Raynham, has also written a post about engagement which you can read here.

You’re probably wondering what the point of this blog post is?

Well… this week I did something that I should have done a long time ago.

I said bye bye to the ‘INSTAFAME’ and started a new account*.

I want a fresh start with organic growth. I want my followers to want to follow me. I want to appear in peoples feeds and not be hidden away because let’s face it, the algorithm sure is a bitch.

I also wanted to do it for Sebastian. I’m putting his face out there on the world wide web. I want to protect him as much as I can.

So here’s me saying bye bye to 49,271 people. Thanks for the memories but here’s to a fresh start, increased engagement and bringing the fun back into Instagram.

Don’t be an Instagram stranger…come give me a follow and say Hi….

Thank you to Jules for your much appreciated thoughts and Instagram friendship, to each and everyone of you who commented on my post with your Instagram experiences, to Sally Fazeli for the Instagram pep talk over lunch and this post would be boring without Samantha’s chalk skills.

**Let’s talk about Instagram || Part two is live – read it here.


  1. Della Horsfield
    July 16, 2018 / 6:10 pm

    Hi Helen.
    Lovely to meet you!
    It takes some b@//○€£$ to do that because to be fair, having tons of followers is what we want…or think we want haha!
    I’ve dipped in and out since around 2012 and fall in and out of love with it quite often haha.
    Recently though, the penny has dropped that I’m enjoying who I follow and love the interaction of a few accounts that follow me back, rather than the ones I don’t connect with…so definitely quality over quantity.
    Della xx

    • August 22, 2018 / 4:55 pm

      Oh most certainly.. I’d rather have 49,000 meaningly comments than 49,000 followers! Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment. It means a lot. x

  2. Natalie Silverman
    August 7, 2018 / 3:42 pm

    This is so interesting as I have been trying really hard to engage and invest more in my community. I knew nothing about the suggested followers or how it can impact you, thanks for sharing and good luck with the new account x

    • August 22, 2018 / 4:53 pm

      Thanks so much for reading my blog post and taking the time to comment! Yes the curse is very real but I am glad I took the plunge!

  3. August 24, 2018 / 12:01 pm

    What an interesting post! I never knew about suggested users and how can that affect yoir account.
    I think you’re very brave for starting again. Fame, including ‘instafame’ can be addictive, so it probably wasn’t an easy decision to make.
    Well done and best of luck with your new account. xx

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