How to Be More Intentional on Instagram (+ Free Instagram Challenge!)

Ah, Instagram. It seems you can't really go on social media these days without hearing some latest scandal or issue with the photo sharing platform. Everyone I know has reported significant drops in engagement, loss of followers and completely stagnant growth. Which means that everywhere you look, there is more and more info about beating the algorithm and quick fixes to boost your engagement and make your stats skyrocket.

And that's great, but lately I've been feeling more and more down about Instagram. And I realized that what I was really missing was the authenticity, the intentional interaction and engagement with other creatives.

It's so easy to get stuck in a spiral of scrolling endlessly, comparing yourself to every account that seems to have more followers, better photos, and cooler lives. And that kind of thinking can be seriously damaging to your self esteem and general mental wellbeing.

So that's why I decided to start being more authentic and intentional on Instagram. I ditched my perfectly curated bright white feed full of lifeless flatlays. I worked hard to stop obsessing over my follower count and start getting strategic. I stopped taking the advice of Instagram gurus and people who kept urging me to "just use a bot, it won't hurt" and started getting real.

So now I wanted to share my strategies with you!

Clean up your feed.

This was huge for me – I don't know about y'all, but I clearly went on some following sprees because when I started this challenge, I was following nearly 1600 people. I know that these ratios don't really matter, but my feed was inundated by accounts that I didn't know or recognize.

So over the past couple months, I've been slowly but surely whittling away at that number, unfollowing accounts that just don't resonate or appeal to me anymore. Now when I scroll through my feed, every post is something that I love and want to like or comment on. Plus it helps cut down on those feelings of envy or comparison when you're genuinely invested in the people you follow.

Break the cycle of scrolling.

Another thing I struggled with so much is getting into a loop of scrolling endlessly through my feed, looking for inspiration but instead just feeling burnt out, overwhelmed, and jealous of people I've never met.

If you find yourself in that situation, put your phone down. Take a deep breath. Then go do something physically or intellectually stimulating. Actually go take photos for your own feed, instead of just thinking about it. Write a blog post or read a book or exercise or paint a picture. Whatever makes you feel better about your own creative talent and process.

Focus on authentic engagement.

You know how sometimes you see accounts with 100k followers who only ever get 200 likes on their photos? Yeah, that's a great way to tell who is using bots or buying followers. And while at times that may seem tempting, it's so, so not worth it. See, having that many followers does you absolutely no good if they aren't engaging with your content. Who cares if you have 100k followers, if none of them care about what you're saying? You can't sell them products or convince them to read your blog posts or anything, because they don't care about you.

So that's why it's so much more important to focus on building relationships and fostering engagement. Genuinely connecting with people is sure to build a stronger audience than just paying for likes and followers. Ask questions in your captions, engage with others on their posts, and take the time to respond to comments in order to build these relationships.

Have fun and be yourself.

Advice for the first day of kindergarten also works well for Instagram, go figure. But seriously. I've had enough of trying to be someone I'm not, of trying to post photos that I think I should post or buy products that all the big name bloggers use. If it's not genuine and authentic, your audience will be able to tell, and more importantly, you'll get burnt out and uninspired.

Post what you want to post. Don't obsess about a perfect theme or feed aesthetic. Let your personality shine through in all your posts, and people will flock to you - plus they'll stick around for more content than just pretty flatlays (although there's nothing wrong with a well-placed flatlay here and there).

Find your community.

The best advice I can give is to find a community on Instagram. Find likeminded people with similar interests and content and then support the heck out of each other. It's tough out there for creatives and bloggers, especially on social media. Finding those people you can bounce ideas off of, get advice from, and just generally commiserate with is invaluable.

And the best part? I have the answer right here.

I created a hashtag community and challenge all geared towards being more authentic and intentional on Instagram. Introducing: The #AuthenticSpark Community.

We'll be using this hashtag on Instagram as we go, so be sure to follow along and use it on your posts! On top of that, if you sign up for the challenge, you'll get access to an exclusive Facebook group where you can connect with other creatives, find pods, and build your community.

And there's a free workbook packed with a month's worth of content ideas and over 500 hashtags to snag for all types of niches!

Sound good? Learn more here or sign up below!