What My First Full Year On Instagram Has Taught Me

2018 started with a bang for me, my Instagram posts were consistently getting extremely good engagement and my follower count was growing by the day. Ironically, fast forward to the end of 2018 and with 50,000 more followers, my posts are now getting less likes and comments than they did a year ago. What is this conundrum? Are people bored of my tiled bathroom? Had enough of the green? I hope not (although I’m starting to get itchy feet) and looking at Instagram Insights it would suggest that this isn’t the case. My reach has dropped from my most liked post reaching over 210,000, to my best post in the last 2 months struggling to get 40,000. It seems that Instagram has fallen out of love with me! 😊

The last couple of weeks posts. Some of my favourites I’ve ever posted but half of them didn’t even show up in hashtags or explore…. Like I’d been shadow banned Instagram??

The last couple of weeks posts. Some of my favourites I’ve ever posted but half of them didn’t even show up in hashtags or explore…. Like I’d been shadow banned Instagram??

But I still have a love/hate relationship with the platform and it’s not going away. I would say the most important thing that this year has taught me is that, although I am often disappointed that my posts no longer do as well as they used to (and there’s a LOT of us wrangling for space on IG these days, 1 billion people to be precise), I absolutely love the inspiration and community that is in abundance on Instagram and this is why it continues to thrive and regularly be quoted as the best social media channel. I’m consistently surprised as to what posts do well and what post bombs. It seems that the photos I take on a whim or quickly done before it gets too dark do really well, but plan ahead and take an hour or two to set up a shot and the engagement trickles in. It’s a mystery to me and if I could find an answer as to why a post does well, I would write a blog on it, get a book deal and retire to the Isle of Wight (yep, my dreams are big), never to take a photo of my kitchen ever again. Although I probably would…. The addiction is real people!

When I win at Instagram, you’ll find me somewhere around here - Shanklin, Isle of Wight

When I win at Instagram, you’ll find me somewhere around here - Shanklin, Isle of Wight

So here, like an Interior world’s Top of the Pops, is a countdown of six of my most liked posts over the last year, starting with my living room. It certainly seems to capture attention every time I post it. It has a green accent wall on one side and a gallery wall on the other, picking out the colours of the room. This was my first proper attempt at a gallery wall and I was ever the professional, putting the pictures up where I wanted them, marking the top of the picture with a nail and just hammering it in. It seemed to work, until you wanted to move pictures around that is! :) The gallery wall always gets lots of comments and questions. They really are easy to throw together; my best advice is to pick pieces you love, and you’ll surprise yourself how well they’ll sit together. I prefer gallery walls with different shapes and frames and a few letters or wall objects thrown in. Start with placing the largest, or your favourite piece of art in the centre of where you want your gallery to go and then just work outwards from there, adding another piece of art on either side to balance it out and so on. Gallery Walls are a surefire way of getting the engagement and comments on Instagram pouring in!

Choose different patterns, textures and sizes for your art and frame it with string bulbs

Choose different patterns, textures and sizes for your art and frame it with string bulbs

This picture of my kitchen has to be my favourite photo on my feed. It was a long 18-month journey getting to where my kitchen looks like today. I really couldn’t decide on the best colour scheme, going from white and teal, to grey and white, grey and sage and finally settling on Hague Blue with rustic touches. I absolutely love how it looks now and I think you should never be afraid to change a room if you are not happy with it. My favourite parts have to be the tiled backsplash, brick effect under the island and the curved units, but I always get the most love and comments for the original wooden floorboards. People also love a full room shot, when I dissect this room and show vignettes of it, it never does as well.

I love everything about my kitchen, but it’s always the flooring that gets the most comments

I love everything about my kitchen, but it’s always the flooring that gets the most comments

My fourth most liked post ever is this corner of my living room. I love how the Valspar Blue Jade paint looks in this photo, it is probably the closest shade to how it looks in real life and is absolutely beautiful. I always had issues with the blank white wall behind the sofa though and wasn’t sure what to do with it. I had admired this botanical wall hanging for a while and ended up buying it on a whim when it was on sale and never really intended for it to go here, but I put it up for this post and the reaction confirmed it’s forever home 😊 Bold, statement walls in a dark hue are always a big winner on my feed and I love how it absolutely transforms a room. Don’t be afraid to use dark colours in a dark room, I think if you try and brighten up an already dark room, it just highlights how dark it is!

My favourite part of this room is my £3 charity find mirror. I love the gold against the green backdrop

My favourite part of this room is my £3 charity find mirror. I love the gold against the green backdrop

Ah, the guest bedroom! This room began as a white and grey project, all boring and a little soulless! So, when Anewall contacted me asking if I wanted a wall mural for one of my rooms, I knew exactly where it was going. But what surprised me, was my least favourite picture of this room, with the mustard throw, was in fact everyone’s number 1. Like I said, you can never call how a picture is going to be received. When you have such a huge statement in a room like this wallpaper, stick to picking out colours from the statement piece so that you haven’t got to many colours jostling for the top spot!

Again, the wooden floorboards always get a lot of admiration. Wallpaper -  anewall.com

Again, the wooden floorboards always get a lot of admiration. Wallpaper - anewall.com

In the second most liked photo of the year was another photo that really surprised me. I’ll be honest, when the autumnal wreath from Balsam Hill turned up on my doorstep, I wasn’t sure what I was going to do with it. I loved it, the colours and design were beautiful, but it was too large for our door. I placed it in several positions around my home and settled on the green wall in our living room as it was a great backdrop for the oranges and browns of the wreath and the reaction surprised me. And in time, I really grew to love it there too. Wreaths have been a huge hit on Instagram in 2018 and I definitely think it’s a trend that is here to stay. They’re only going to get bigger and better!

The detailing of this wreath is absolutely stunning -  Balsam Hill

The detailing of this wreath is absolutely stunning - Balsam Hill

In the number one spot is my kitchen corner makeover. I’d wanted to paint my kitchen dark blue for a while but didn’t have the nerve to do it and one day I just went out and bought a pot of Farrow & Ball Hague Blue and nervously sent everyone out for the day, so I could paint it. This photo was taken 5 minutes after I’d finished putting the first coat up, there were streaks and shadows on the ceiling from where the paint had splashed up, the frog tape was still in place and it had minimal styling, but it got a huge reaction. I think this has been the biggest learning curve for me on Instagram in 2018, followers love a makeover! Especially when you’ve been banging on about changing a room for months on stories like I was and one day I just did it. Perhaps everyone’s likes were just a collective sigh of relief that I wouldn’t be procrastinating about it any more!

A hastily put together kitchen photo

A hastily put together kitchen photo

So, what has my time on Instagram this year taught me? I think the main points have to be;

  • People like consistency, find a niche and then find a niche within a niche (for example, if your niche is interiors, then go for a specific interior trend like Modern Rustic or Scandinavian).

  • Choose a colour palette in your home that consists of 3 or 4 colours and try to stick to it, I think it makes your feed flow better.

  • Don’t worry too much about posting the perfect shot. Your followers will like that bit of personality thrown into a post, a discarded baby bottle, splashes of paint you missed on the skirting board and so on.

  • Never be afraid of change. If there’s something you are unhappy with in your home, revamp it! There’s plenty of advice and guidance on Instagram to help you even if you have the smallest of budgets.

  • Don’t be afraid to post similar angles of a room. If it was successful the first time, it’s bound to be successful again. There’s a reason why people like it!

  • You’ve got to love creating and posting what you put on Instagram. If it starts to become a bit of a chore, you’ll stop doing it. Find something you love to design, make or talk about and I can assure you, even if you don’t get a huge reaction to begin with, you’ll keep doing it.

  • But most importantly, make real connections, friendships and engage! I think we all concentrate on getting the most likes and followers, but the last few weeks have taught me to take a step back from Instagram a little and appreciate it for what it really is. A fantastic community full of like minded and creative people.

In the New Year I will be writing a blog and going more into depth about Instagram, the do’s and don’ts, the good and the damn right ugly. But for now, have a fantastic New Year and see you in 2019.

Mel x