Connection or Life Complication?


My name is Claire and I love instagram!  Do you?

The beautiful photography, the ‘real’ down to earth people behind the mummy blogger profiles, the inspirational captions that bring a bit of sunshine to your day.

Instagram is BIG BUSINESS – If you have followers and you get engagement you can charge companies at least 10% of your follower number on average to write content for them. #ad.   You need to be a bit savvy – set up a media pack to articulate your boundaries and value but literally anyone can do it… so a lot of people REALLY want to grow following!


I’ve found there’s a set of not so secret codes when you have a public instagram account…it is also really tricky to grow followers now because of the algorithm and as we know a highly addictive space to spend time.

This is the part I find so weird…

We see you sending out your non connected connections, here’s the Instagram code I’ve cracked … 

  • ·      Random comment not connected to your photo or caption = copy & paste or spam bot
  • ·      Follow/ unfollower within 24/48 hours = not a real person behind the action
  • ·      3+ likes and no follow – probably not a real person or if you are that’s a lot of energy to send out hoping someone will follow you!  
  • ·      Instagram pod = an agreement between a set of people to like and comment on each other’s posts everytime they post to boost engagement. 
  • ·      I’ll like and comment on your posts multiple times each month = please follow me/ I really like what you’ve got to say.
  • ·      I’ll mention you in my story = genuinely lovely person/ wants to be seen to be genuine. 


Being ever conscious of the time we spend online I conducted a little experiment over on my instagram account @sparklesstag to try and understand more about the psychology of why I personally love it so much.

Have your read about the dopamine centre in the brain being triggered by the random nature of ‘what you get’ when you open the app – which is very powerful apparently and keeps us almost addicted to looking for the next high.

This experiment really runs deeper than that and it’s much more about the why we post what we post.  Is our ‘highlights’ reel the shiniest version of ourselves to share with the world or is it more a place to share our highs and lows to fill a void of not having enough attention in our lives from real humans or is it something else entirely? 


Intrigued?  Disagree with me?  Feel free to read on…


My experiment consisted of 4 things to test connection and complication;

1. Paying to ‘boost’ one of my more popular posts (complication)

2. Posting a non-smiling picture but explaining why (connection)

3. Posting a no make-up selfie on stories (connection)

4. Sharing a story about how I was feeling really nervous for a set of presentations I was doing which I genuinely wanted to do. (Connection)

Here are the results…time to geek out! 🤓 😆

Boosted Post 

·      The boosted post received over 500 likes.  My posts usually receive 50-70, I have around 550 followers – mostly friends and colleagues I think but some people who I have never met but have a nice connection with.   

·      I actually felt quite overwhelmed with all of those notifications popping up every time I opened the app (I don’t have notifications switched on).  It was like I had to scan and check – did I have something to ‘do’ – someone to reply to?  Did anyone need anything?  I would liken the feeling in me to when my sister texts me saying “call me asap”.   Panic!

·      Turns out there was really no panic – only one person of the entire 450 likers wrote a comment and it was nothing to do with my caption – only because they liked the photo which is lovely of them but mildly dissatisfying for me.  

·      I think I got around 6 new followers, the boost cost £6.   That’s £1 per follower.  I asked on my stories if people would pay that per follower and they all answered no except a few dms who said if you’re a small biz that’s quite good value.  I don’t know a huge amount about marketing budgets bloggers spend but I would tend to agree especially if they are 6 genuine followers and someone buys your product. 

·      I didn’t feel disappointed or let down by the experience it more helped me to realise how 450 people use the app.  IE not necessarily reading captions or replying to what I say in mine.  There could be a thousand reasons for this, time spent scrolling, consciously not reading captions (I do this a lot), not being interested or connected to the caption. 


Non-smiling picture

·      50 Likes and 10 Comments

·      Compared to 74 likes and 14 comments for a smiling one. 

·      Not much difference there but had I not been honest about wanting to diversify what I post perhaps not so many people would have liked it? 

No make-up selfie

·      Up to 100 people view my stories each day – one person replied and said ‘beautiful’ – she’s a friend. 

·      I realise it’s not so much of a bold move to post a selfie without make-up these days and in the swarm of charity driven no-make-up selfies on facebook a couple of years ago which I couldn’t bring myself to join in with it felt good to do.

·      I might add that those who share more than a naked face on instagram are still receiving huge amounts of likes, comments and reports of breaching community guidelines so if you’re looking for more likes and attention – that’s still the way to go although I will be the first to say this type of post doesn’t sit well with me and I would question if the person is really trying to unite their tribe or just surfing waves of attention for growth. 

Sharing a story about a set of presentations


·      This action by far had the biggest ‘feel good’ factor and it wasn’t because of any replies or support – it was just because it felt good to authentically share what was happening in life.  I didn’t re-record any of the stories but I did purposefully leave the airbrush filter off a couple of them.

So to round up, I have grown to be really careful about how much time and energy I spend on instagram and what I believe about the people behind the accounts that post.   I make conscious decisions so if something or someone I follow doesn’t seem authentic or make me feel good – I unfollow – I just want to feel inspired and connected! I’m in charge or my social media ship and where I steer it and in a space of being light hearted without expectation, it always feels good to sail!

I’ve also diversified the way I get my messages about my business out and have a mailchimp mailing list and facebook page and group now too because I do really want to connect and share with the world!

Anyone fancy a real life coffee?  Now that’s connection!  

Thanks for reading and I’d love to know your thoughts, tagging the sparkles over on Instagram if you want to chat!

PS -If you want to learn more about how Instagram works I’d really recommend listening to Sara Tasker’s podcast Hashtag Authentic and if you need a break from thoughts of comparison and judgment Spiritual Guru Gabby Bernstein has an incredible book out called ‘Judgement Detox’ – I’d really recommend it.