Hello, fellow readers! Earlier this week, the bookstagram community had quite the “drama.” I won’t be “spilling the tea,” or anything, but I did want to have a discussion on the conversation and what I took from it when the dust settled. I don’t know exactly where the drama originated from, but I have a feeling that the “rant” on Jordy’s stories is what set off the community. He shared his feelings about engagement groups/pods and was very vocally against this practice on bookstagram. (He has apologized for the way his stories came off as condescending.)
I’ll admit to being a member of two of these groups on bookstagram. I actually joined both very recently, like within the last two months. In case you don’t know what engagement groups are, they are just pages on Instagram where people join and agree to like and save each other’s posts. The way the groups are organized vary, but one group I’m in posts daily threads where you comment with which post you want the others to like and save. The other group I’m in requires you to like and save all of the photos the account is tagged in.
Each group has its advantages and disadvantages. The group where you tag your photos makes it easier to go through and complete your engagement, but the group with the specific thread usually has a cap on it so you don’t spend a lot of time completing the task.
You may be wondering why I would even join these groups since it sounds like a lot of work (and it is!). Frankly, I’ve found so many accounts I was not aware of through these groups. You aren’t required to follow each other or comment on every single post (some pods do require this practice). I follow the accounts I like based on their content.
Now to bring this back to the drama, Jordy stated that being in an engagement group was “cheating” and skipping steps that he and other “big” bookstagrammers went through for two years. He talked about all of the work he put in to growing his account and how much time he would spend each day following accounts and interacting with their posts.
So my question is, how is what he and the other “big” accounts did any different from the work being put in to an engagement group? It’s not! If you are in an active engagement pod, you are putting in the same work that they did. I am still spending time interacting with posts each day, and I am still spending time taking pictures and writing captions. I don’t see anyone in an engagement pod making it to 50K overnight, but the “big” accounts who spoke out were acting like we are all skipping to the finish line by being in these groups.
So what bothered me most about this entire thing was, why does it matter what someone else is doing with their account? It shouldn’t. Engagement pods are not hurting anyone (I have yet to see any proof of the “bullying” Jordy claims is happening in these groups). Engagement pods are not growing “small” accounts to “big” accounts overnight. Engagement pods help you get interaction on your posts so that your target audience will see it more since engagement pushes your picture up in the algorithm. Engagement pods help you find and make new bookish friends, and isn’t that was most of us joined bookstagram for anyway?
Some people tried to argue that engagement pods manipulate your Instagram feed so that you see less of what you may truly love. Well, that is probably true, but my feed already doesn’t show me what I want because I don’t have the option to sort my feed by most recent. So I was seeing the same 20 people over and over every day anyway. Now I see posts from more accounts in my feed and it is wonderful!
One good thing that came out of the conversation was me reflecting on my own account. I actually took some of Jordy’s advice and did a couple of photo challenges this week. I tried to add an engaging question to my posts so people would comment. I tagged the publisher in my posts (something I neglect to do because I thought you should only do that when you have an ARC!).
Then I took things a step further. If the “big” accounts can have 10K, 20K, or 50K followers and follow less than 1,000 accounts, then why can’t I also clean up who I am following so I will see more of what I love? So I did some spring cleaning.
I sorted the accounts I follow by oldest and went down the line. I unfollowed inactive accounts, book subscription accounts, and accounts that I don’t interact with. I never unfollowed someone who was following me, but I did unfollow several “big” accounts who probably did follow me at one time but now only follow a select few. And that is okay. That is how they want to run their account.
I want bookstagram to be a place that brings me joy. Yes, this all started out as “drama,” but I can’t deny that the conversations were good and healthy. I interacted with new accounts because of this conversation. I reflected on my own bookstagram practices and made some changes to my account. I don’t want to view bookstagram as a place to play the numbers game and hope to get noticed by some publishers who might throw me some free books. I just want to talk to other book lovers and find book recommendations.
I shared this on my #whyibookstagram post this week, but I wanted to leave it here as well: “My bottom line opinion on all of this (even though you didn’t ask for it) is it shouldn’t matter to anyone how YOU run your account. I have found friends on booksta through random comments or DMs, engagement/chat groups, Facebook groups, you name it. If you feel threatened by how somebody is running THEIR account, you need to step back and re-evaluate yourself because none of this is that serious. But when drama like this pops up, it really does take the fun out of what should be a community of readers talking about books. We all started somewhere, whether you’ve been here 5 years or 5 days. I think we all know you don’t get 10K followers over night, but if someone wants to be in an engagement group to help beat the algorithm or even just to meet new people, it is okay. Read that again: It. Is. Okay.”
Please sound off in the comments and tell me your thoughts about bookstagram! Why do you bookstagram? What do you hope to gain from your account?