As you guys have noticed, Instagram is a social platform which I am truly fascinated with. I've written many blog posts about how to use it effectively, and more recently I have devoted a lot of time getting to know the platform, understanding how it works and how to grow my own engaged audience. However, along the way I have uncovered a few concerning truths. In fact, I have noticed several trends which are affecting users and bloggers right now, and worst of all - many of them don't even realise this! Consequently, I thought I would share a bit of an Instagram 'warning'. It's not all doom and gloom, because I am not one to blog about a problem and not offer a solution. However I think it's important to learn on my experiences and find out what you don't know about Instagram and how it affects you.

What You Don't Know About Instagram and How It Affects You Pin It

Don’t just be known for your ‘inspirational’ content Successful bloggers are successful because they found a niche and they own it. However I am seeing more and more bloggers losing their engaged audiences because they don’t keep their messaging consistent. Eventually they find their highest engaged posts have absolutely no relevance to their niche. And before they know it, they have cultivated the wrong audience.

Now I am not saying there is anything wrong about the occasional ‘inspirational’ post. As users, we don’t like to be sold to day after day; we crave different content, such as lifestyle content. But what I am saying is be careful. Having an audience hungry for your niche is far more important than having an audience who just like your inspirational photos and don’t engage with your niche.

Need am example? If you're niche is DIY Beauty, and you get more engagement on photos of flowers, food and fashion, then you haven't been cultivating your audience properly. So choose to be known for your niche, not what you do in your spare time.

Being a Suggested User isn’t all what its cracked up to be A couple of months ago, Instagram sent me the holy grail of Direct Messages to let me know I had been carefully selected as a Suggested User because of the creative, original and engaging content I was producing.

I was blown away but I immediately had my reservations, which you can read all about here. There are many pro’s and con’s to being a Suggested User, however for anyone wanting to be one – tread lightly! It’s been five weeks since my feature ended and I have already lost 3,000 followers. I have discovered from speaking with other people who have become Suggested Users that this is actually expected, but I should be relieved because the drop in followers was rather low compared to their accounts. Not content to sit and watch my audience decline as 'expected', I have been working hard to cultivate my new audience to be in sync with my existing audience. I have also been focusing heavily on my engagement and strategically analysing ways to continue to grow an engaged audience. More on that down below!

Don’t put all your eggs into one basket Look at Facebook when it first started and compare it to the product it is today. Unless you are a featured account on Facebook, it is impossible to grow an organic audience due to Facebook’s tough and ever evolving algorithms. In the social world we refer to this as Facebook Zero – where Facebook are moving toward: zero advertising = zero engagement.

In case you didn’t know, in addition to my blog, I am a Digital Manager and I work with an excellent team to create strategic social plans for brands to get their social noticed and their audiences engaged. And there is no way I would recommend Facebook to a brand as a platform without a minimum advertising spend.

But what about Instagram? Is it any different? We don’t know yet but what I can tell you is this – Facebook owns Instagram and now anyone can advertise on Instagram (a couple of weeks ago advertising was only available to US brands and it was very competitive to even be considered). Historically it looks like Instagram is on the same path as Facebook…

Whether or not Instagram will experience the same fate as Facebook is unknown right now, but what I can offer is this: do not put all of your eggs in to one basket, Instagram. At the end of the day, Facebook controls this platform and if advertising is the only way to ensure success in a few years time, start getting ready now by creating a website/blog which you do own and you do have control of. Yes, put a lot of energy into your social platforms now for sure, but put more energy into creating uniquely engaging content on your website and blog.

But how do you grown an engaged audience on Instagram? Do I have some exciting news for you! I am currently writing an eBook “How To Grow An Engaged Community On Instagram”. It is an area I am very passionate about and I have many proven theories about producing engaging content content, the positives and negatives of being a Suggested User and the future of Instagram, which I haven't been able to reveal in this blog post. So I am really looking forward to sharing them very soon! To be the first in the know, sign up to my newsletter as my loyal readers will be the first to find out when this is being published!