#SeekingFollowers: A Social Experiment

On Thursday, bored and avoiding work on three (three!) final projects, I decided to try an experiment: I wanted to see how many followers on Instagram I could get.

Instagram is by far my favorite social media platform, and that’s probably because I’m a pretentious, ironic millennial (read: hipster and maybe tack on wannabe). I also won’t lie, I watch my ratio of followers to who I follow. Followers are the currency of social standing. (And this is what makes me a wannabe hipster; a bonafide fair trade coffee-drinking, thick-rimmed glass-wearing, scarf-in-the-summer millennial isn’t concerned about these capitalistic, mainstream woes. At least theoretically.)

Anyway, I’m pretty close to a 2:1 ratio. It’s more like 5:3, but whatever. I’m known for taking artsy photos already. Exhibit A:


Exhibit B:


(You don’t think they’re artsy? Ugh, go choke on your almond milk latte.)

My posts get decent attention aka the number of likes generally reaches above the threshold where Instagram summarizes likes with digits (“11 likes” !!!) and not an ugly string of users’ handles (that’s what you call the users’ profile names, for you not-on-it readers: It is not your Twitter/Instagram name; it is your Twitter/Instagram handle).

To start my experiment, I Googled how does one get insta followers – for free. Apparently, it’s a thing to buy followers. Well, sorry, I have morals. After reading two blogs, I had gained all the insight I needed. Tips included using #hashtags (but not too many!) and liking random people’s photos. Also, commenting helps. And you could also totally throw your reputation to the curb and post #Like4Like or #Follow4Follow all over the place – but do I seem desperate? ~Repeats: “No, I am just bored on a Thursday afternoon.”~

To begin with, I don’t usually caption my photos. Actually, this was a suggestion from Sara a few months ago: She believed my “silent” photos garnered more likes. I considered doing a t-test on the data because I don’t know if this is true, but I stuck with it; I like having that mystery vibe behind my Sierra filter (get out if you’re a Sutro fan, wtf is that – or Kelvin?! You Oompa Loompa!).

I decided to start with captions. I have a basic friend who always posts two captions: The original one and then the string of hashtags. For example: “#psl #starbucks #pumkinspicelatte #latte” or “#run #runner #marathon #halfmarathon #brooks” or “#rome #italy #historic #history #vacation #travel #roma #vatican #stpeter #catholic”. *blinks* AND SHE HAS LESS FOLLOWERS THAN ME.

Earlier in the day I posted this:


At the beginning of the experiment, it had no caption and five likes. #disappointing

I added, “#Richmond #RVA #virginia #VA #downtown #city #urban.” Note, I did not tag #tree or #USPS.

I went to the restroom. Upon my return, I had six likes from people I don’t know (!!) – but no new followers (da fuxx?!). I debated deleting the hashtag caption now that I was over the threshold of 10 likes (“11 likes” *hand raise emoji*). Then Mr_Anani_ commented on my photo: “Nice!”

Oh no, Mr_Anani_, I see you! I know what you want. Well, you’re not getting it. I’m not following you.

And then I gave up on my experiment, because I didn’t want to graffiti my highbrow photos because #image, even though getting followers is all about #image, too. #irony #hipster #bai