I Posted to Instagram for the First Time in 110 Days and This Is What Happened

I Posted to Instagram for the First Time in 110 Days and This Is What Happened

If you’ve ever felt like you needed to take a break from the roller coaster of social media but you are too worried you’ll lose all your momentum, this might ease your mind.

One of the biggest fears when it comes to growing a social media account is what happens if you take a break and how will it affect your future engagement. A few weeks ago I wrote an article about what happened when I stopped posting to Instagram for three months. In the comments multiple people asked if my hiatus would cause a drop in engagement or reach which I didn’t have an answer to, until now.

For those of you who might be just getting your feet wet in growing an Instagram name or brand, there are tons of tips, tricks, do’s and don’ts. Many of them are simply best practices and guides to give you the best chance at gaining traction. Within the myriad of articles there is an idea that if you stop posting for too long, when you come back your engagement and reach will have plummeted and all that hard work you put in previously is erased. I can confidently say that was not the case for me, quite the opposite.

The Results

Alex Armitage's instagram social reach

The numbers you see represent social reach.

Here are the highest engagement rates of my posts in the last year using a sample size of roughly 76 photos. The photos highlighted in red are the three posts I’ve made since my hiatus. Not only did they get decent engagement, they are the highest engaged posts I’ve had over the entire year. My first post since coming back being the highest, I thought it was possibly a fluke or coincidence that it did so well. Thus I posted a few more times before jumping to any conclusions and it seems quite clear to me.

Taking a break did not affect my engagement, it actually increased my numbers. This obviously isn’t scientific evidence done with controls and a small amount of variables. It’s simply what happened to me personally. To be transparent, I put more effort into the captions in these three posts. Specifically trying new ideas to see if people are even reading my captions and if so, is the content worth interacting with? You could also argue that these recent photos stand out more than the rest of my photos and while I do think they are stronger photos overall, they are not far from other work on my feed.

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• Light of the Gods • I spent 5 cold days in Yosemite last March with my beautiful girlfriend @andreasestokas. This was the second half of our California photography/adventure trip. We rented a camper van named Reece to save money but also experience something we had never done. It opened our eyes to minimizing what we owned and was a fantastic experience. I’ll admit the biggest downside was running from the shower in the cold to the van. We also had to get a room is Yosemite because of how cold it got and how unprepared we were to sleep in the cold. But if I were to do it again, I couldn’t recommend it enough. As I said in my last post, I’d like to make honest posts. Not shower every post with a false facade that my life is perfect or these shots required the impossible. So getting to this shot is extremely easy. It’s taken straight from the parking lot at tunnel view in Yosemite. We woke up for every sunrise but because it was winter, access to most hikes was limited. Thus I found myself at this classic view pretty often. Taken on a Canon 5dm4, 70-200 f/2.8L II, Tripod, no filter. ISO 100, 80mm, f/8, 1/320s. I’ve included my original shot that you can clearly see I over exposed. Thankfully technology is great and I was able to recover all the highlights. Minimal Lightroom editing and the results are one of my favorite captures from the trip. The light was fleeting and absolutely majestic. As if there was just a spotlight on El Cap. This image is scaled for instagram and is originally landscape oriented. Would love to hear what you think about this format and what you would or wouldn’t want to know in a post. Does cost to get to a destination interest you? Specific editing? Anything. Thanks for reading.

A post shared by Alex Armitage (@alexarmitage_) on

If you think either of those things could have skewed my results, I welcome you to take a quick look at my feed and decide for yourself. Personally I think that If Instagram’s algorithm was going to hide my first post back after a hiatus, I doubt a decent photo and a long caption would magically beat the system if it existed.

Conclusion

It seems pretty clear that this myth is simply that, a myth. Taking a break shouldn't affect your future engagement and should definitely ease any worries you may have if you’re feeling like you need a break; I certainly did. I appreciate everyone who raised this question in my last article and I hope this gives you the answer you were looking for.

Do you have any experience taking a break and coming back to less engagement? What else would you like to know about the wild world of Instagram? I’d love to hear other perspectives and as always, thanks for reading.

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20 Comments

Jonathan Brady's picture

Do you have more followers thanks to the prior article?

Alex Armitage's picture

I've gained 70-80ish followers since my first post back, which puts me about where I was before I stopped posting back in October.

Rob Mitchell's picture

Does the engagement lead to bookings though?
Curious. Instagram is rather hit or miss unless you're hot, in barely a bikini, doing promotions, giveaways or generally selling something.

I love using Instagram and I also shoot content for clients. Sometimes we can sort-of predict a big engagement rush for certain images, other times, images or video we thing will score, doesn't.

On the other hand, I'm also an account for a product I'm helping build, we don't post unless we've something to really post, yet we have a steady increase in followers and a very high rate of engagement when we do post something.

Bizarre world.

Alex Armitage's picture

A lot of people asked about engagement resulting in money. The issue for me is that my work isn't providing a service for anyone. Landscape photography doesn't exactly work like most other photography models. It's more of a long process with the hopes that it turns into more opportunities. Yes there are the dream scenarios of 100k followers like Mad's has worked hard to accomplish, and I can assume he has gotten business strictly from his Instagram.

Scott Stebner's picture

I actually get several jobs a year because of calls via Instagram.

walter siefker's picture

My experience with using Instagram as a platform for growing my business has had very much the same outcome; I work with models mainly, as occasionally will post a landscape. After a shoot, me and the model will have a few favorites that we think will gain a lot of likes and comments, and it will end up with a quarter of the anticipated engagement.
Something I have found helps A LOT is using hashtags with >100k posts, allowing for my post to stay closer to the top of the recent/top of the hashtag page; and also my models have found that following a general aesthetic helps with retaining followers.

I'm in a college town, working mostly with college students so my demo/client base is very focused, and with such I have seen that by "pandering" to current trends, and aligning to what the students are posting, I am able to get a few inquiries a month based solely off my Instagram postings. So I am sure once you get to a certain follower account, and a certain level of account activity/exposure the amount of people you book would surely increase.

Steven Magner's picture

You should try posting an image that isn't of an iconic location after a period of time removing yourself from IG. Post any shot from Yosemite and you are bound to get a high amount of traction on your photo.

Alex Armitage's picture

I posted 3 different photos from 3 different locations. Also the Yosemite photo isn't the photo I posted when I came back.

Steven Magner's picture

I've never had the opportunity to visit the Dolomites, but that is another spot that get's a lot of traction.

I think the story of your posts is the biggest change and a breath of fresh air to people that actually care to know more about the photographer they follow, rather than following aimlessly. At least, that's why I try to follow certain people on IG myself. Posts that just say "Deliverance" is great, if the photo was printed and hung up in a showroom.

I've been following along with your Fstoppers Instagram posts. I think it's safe to say we can neither understand how the Algorithm works, or if we just over assume that there is one in place lowering our engagement from time to time. In either sense, I try not to think about it as much and focus more on the images I present.

Alex Armitage's picture

I agree! I'd rather focus on better ways to innovate and make content than mull over why one post was worse than another. That said, I do enjoy doing something and seeing the results which is why I write these articles. This one particularly feels good because I hear this myth a lot.

Alex Dylikowski's picture

Instagram....again....really? Can't believe there is nothing else to write about...again and again

Errick Jackson's picture

It's 2019, in the middle of an exponentially expanding technological era where Instagram is arguably the most potent tool for artist engagement right now....so yes, we have another article about Instagram. I think you'll live.

Errick Jackson's picture

I noticed this too. I took a 3-month hiatus from Instagram to clear my head and when I came back, my followers were 1) thrilled to see me come back and 2) engaged with me on a significantly higher level; at worst, my current engagement matched the trend of my previous engagement. I also stopped using hashtags and my engagement rose.

Alex Armitage's picture

I'm on the verge of not using hashtags. I think all they do is gain me fake followers.

D R's picture

It's the algorithm giving you a boost to get you hooked on social media again. The basics are that it wants you to feel good to entice you to come back, post more often and potentially click on ads.

Alex Armitage's picture

Do you have any info or data to back that up?

D R's picture

It's well documented that Facebook sells adverts and will take any opportunity to manipulate you psychologically to make money from ad clicks and impressions. I've experienced the boost myself after not posting for awhile, although it was a couple of years ago.

Nicholas Morris's picture

Everyone has different theories about how the "algorithm works," but at the end of the day I think Instagram is just a broken social network right now. Too many engagement pods, fake likes/follows, and bots. They can't keep up to keep it under control.

steve fischer's picture

I couldn't agree with this more. Instagram claims they are cracking down on fake engagement etc. but I sure don't see a crackdown. I still see agencies, models etc. using bots for follow/unfollow etc, fake likes etc. It's really become overwhelming and ruined the experience on instagram.

walter siefker's picture

There hasn't been a day that has pasted in the last 3 months, where I haven't gotten a comment or DM, saying, "OMG we love your page, check ours out" with an absolutely disgusting amount of emojis