What Losing 100,000 Twitter Followers Over Night Taught Me About My Business Priorities

Being thrown in Instagram jail really makes you think about the bigger picture

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I’m in Instagram unfollow jail. Again. And I don’t like it. At all. And it’s amazing at the same time because it reminds me of the power dynamic I’m operating under.

We live in the land of the free and the home of the brave, yet as soon as I save up enough bravery to go on an unfollow spree, I’m imprisoned by the Insta authorities. We’ll call ‘em “Gram” from here on out.

On a mission to simplify my life and practice essentialism, Gram handcuffed me and put me on notice:

a screenshot on a phone letting someone know they've been temporarily blocked on instagram
Amy Jo

Oh, I told ’em, all right! I clicked the “Tell us” button like a boss. I was released a day later and then—boom. They put me right back in the slammer. Again. And again.

What’s the harm in unfollowing accounts, Gram? I’m not spamming or scamming people. Help a sister out.

That’s not the point.

This isn’t just about Gram not wanting me to unfollow folks. This is about Gram’s ability to control … well, everything. And you know what? Gram sure can. We don’t own our content or our relationships with our followers, Gram does.

I’m grateful. You know why? Because this annoying little imprisonment has reminded me of something. Social media is a medium. It’s a vehicle. It’s a channel. And we have zero control. Yet it controls most of our minds and behaviors. We put a ton of blind faith into these little apps on our phones.

In 2018, I woke up and I had lost more than 150,000 followers on Twitter. Yes, 150,000-plus followers were gone overnight. And then they came back a few months later. What? And then they disappeared again on November 9, 2018, and my following dropped back down to the exact same number (985,000). Yep. What a way to jack with a girl’s mind.

Now, let’s level set. I completely understand that social platforms have to scrub their lists to clear out bots from time to time, but after being on the platform for more than a decade, I’ve never seen anything like this. And then all of a sudden the same exact number of followers reappear and disappear?

a screenshot of Instagram analytics

One day later, 151,000 followers have disappeared.

a screenshot of Instagram analytics
Amy Jo

My question to you: If a social media platform went away tomorrow, where would you be? Or if a social media platform changed drastically, where would you be?

I’m not leaving the platforms. They’re powerful. They’re amazing. They’ve changed my life. And they’re in control.

We are blindly putting our businesses, marketing and livelihoods into the hands of strangers, and we have zero control. Why do we do this? Because it’s addictive and it seems to be working—today. What about tomorrow?

I’m not suggesting you break up with Gram. I am suggesting you shift your loyalty a bit by building traffic to your own website and focusing on your own email communication. Those are two things that you have more control over.

This article was originally published on Amy Jo Martin’s personal blog.