Discussion: Bookstagram & The Disillusion of Popularity Online
Today, I thought I would do a little discussion post to discuss my thoughts. It’s a bit on the serious side in comparison to most of my content I think but why shouldn’t I post my bookish thoughts on my online journal aka blog? 🙂
I’d like to think that I have a decent amount of experience on Bookstagram, being that I’ve been doing it for over a year and I’ve managed to amass a decent following (albeit still small in many aspects). Today I want to discuss something I think many bookstagrammers like myself are generally thinking once they reach a point where they have that certain amount of a following.
I began my bookstagram account after much research and intrigue into the community from my smol little personal account, and actually made friends with some of these wondrous bookstagrammers. They were so nice and so lovely, and I’m still good friends with a few of them now. Bookstagram was at the time, a beautiful opportunity to share pretty photos I wanted to take from my phone. Showing off my photography skillz and my favourite reads at the same time. Like any social media account these days and most people in our generation, it can become an unhealthy obsession to gain followers and likes and be recognised for your material, talent and output on your channel such as an Instagram account. What has honestly bugged me even more as I got those followers was that epiphany that HEY, this is actually NOT healthy and also not quite as fun as it first was. I was talking and discussing less about books, and therefore not getting the kind of engagement I wanted except from the select few amazing close friends I had made (one who I’m visiting next year and super excited to meet!).
As I hit my first major milestone, became a brand rep for a candle company for the first time, and noticed how it felt like my number of likes, comments and followers was never enough, I couldn’t be bothered taking photos anymore and this lack of fun and drive, it started to dawn on me. Followers are something that people desire so much, popularity is what people desire so much, and no matter how many books these very people read, that show how popularity is actually quite toxic, we still seek it. I’m not going to lie, even knowing this, I still look at my follower and like count going down, I have moments where I’m wondering why people aren’t engaging with me as they used to when I feel I actually have better content, and of course not the mention how that also affects how I see my blog’s stats – it’s truly depressing and sucks the fun out of bookstagram. Not to mention, seeing so many people complain about the algorithm not letting more of their followers see and like their content, it constantly made me think – is this really worth complaining? why did we start these accounts to begin with?
Engagement is something all social media marketers know they need and something bookstagrammers crave. The more engagement, the better. From a marketers point of view (work has entered the chat), it means more interaction that leads to more exposure, publicity and profit. From a bookstagrammer point of view; first, it meant the ability to find like-minded people to discuss books with and be able to fawn over the same loved series, to NOW, a more toxic version where we’re now seeking more validation for our content and an almost irrelevant number that actually means nothing in comparison to an awesome conversation and the beginning of a real friendship online.
More and more lately, I’ve been taking a step back and taking more hiatus time for myself because we shouldn’t feel the need to constantly be putting out photos on an Instagram account without passion, photos that people will perhaps look at once, follow, like, comment and may never see again. There are plenty of posts out there that give you tips on how to succeed on Bookstagram and get a great following, I know them all so if you’d like a blog post on that I can do it since it’s actually part of my job to do this for businesses. BUT, at the end of the day, I truly believe that we shouldn’t be posting to get popular, we should be striving to post photos because we LIKE to take them and want to share some awesome photography to encourage more reading and discussion in this community.
At the end of the day, getting likes, comments, followers and replies, is much like power. It becomes an addiction, an obsession and it will never be enough. Reached 1K? Amazing, get to 2K now, get to 5K, 10K etc, and realistically you’ll still only reach the same number, if not less, of the people you did, when you were a smaller account of around 100 followers. That’s not to say that having a high follower count is bad but this culture among us to strive to get bigger and bigger is not healthy. Having lots of followers can mean Yay! I can be a rep and get free stuff, or Yay! publishers will want to use me for publicity and send me ARCs – but is that really why you got into bookstagram? If so, is that really something fulfilling and worthwhile of your time?
Although I know this blog post will do little to nothing of our now habitual social media tendencies of craving online attention and popularity, I thought this might be an interesting topic I could write about.
What do you think?
Thanks for reading,