Well, my time as a Suggested User on Instagram is finished. What a ride! Let me try to put my experience into words.
I was driving to the movies with Brian when I got a notification that Instagram started following me, and that I received a Direct Message from them. I was really confused to see the name "Instagram" on my screen. Since I was driving, I told Brian to check it. He read to me that Instagram picked me as a Suggested User.
I quickly glanced at the words "suggested" and "thousands of new followers" and my hands started to sweat. I couldn't believe it! JUST a few days prior, I had Googled "How do you get on Instagram's Suggested Users list" out of curiosity because I had seen 2 other Instagram friends get on the list these past few months.
I had to turn off my notifications because the followers/likes came instantly. By the hundreds. Over the next 2 weeks, I jumped from about 1,300 followers to over 60,000 (I'm assuming this number will drop -- keep reading!).
One strange thing that crossed my mind was that there was an alarming amount of what looked like spam accounts. I double-checked all the "Instafamous" people and saw that their followers were a good amount of inactive followers too. It made me think, "Does Instagram know about this?" and "Is this what all 'Instafamous' accounts are like? Is Instagram itself promoting spam just to up our follower counts?"
All sorts of disappointing thoughts. But I did see real people commenting and liking, and it gives me hope that Instagram is still the awesome community I know it is. When all the spam accounts get shut down (they disappear 10-12 at a time with each post, I've noticed), I'll hopefully be left with people with whom I can genuinely interact.
Also, Jean had a very good point. Suggested Users usually pop up for people who are new to Instagram. Other than that, you would have to dig through "Find People to Follow" and Suggested Users would be underneath all contacts/Facebook friends. So it's normal to see people without much activity following you.
Just 2 days into my feature, someone (or a bot) commented on about 5 of my photos. All of the comments were mean in nature, accusing me of buying followers and calling me fake. It was comments like, "STOP BUYING FOLLOWERS. WE KNOW YOU ARE DOING IT." and "HEY EVERYONE! This girl buys her followers!!"
They themselves had 0 followers and 0 following... which meant someone either made a new account just to accuse me or it was some sort of hate bot. I blocked them, but they came back with the same name (different number attached to the end). If it was a real person, that is just sad... I took the time to reply to them ONCE, but I decided it wasn't worth it and just blocked them/deleted all the comments.
I felt a bit offended after that, so I reached out to someone I knew who had been a Suggested User (@ashlynlanders) to see if she had any advice. And she helped me IMMENSELY. Thank you, Ashlyn! She told me that it was expected, and that these comments could keep coming, but I shouldn't be bothered by it. And it really didn't bother me anymore. The "hater" commented so frequently that the shock had faded, and I just started rolling my eyes at the accusations. I also have to thank my friend Amanda for easing my worries too. She researched bots and spam for me, and gave me encouraging advice. She is much too kind!
I am SO grateful for this opportunity. Instagram is my personal creative outlet. A chance to attempt to make beautiful things every day. It's my zen. And to be recognized by my favorite social media platform out of the millions of users they have is such a great feeling.
I've also met so many talented people out there who share the same interests as me. Through all the spam, there were real people out there who inspire me and support me. I think it's great that Instagram can get people from around the world to connect like that. It also helps me seek out more beauty in the world, and to make a list of places to see and things to eat! I've discovered a lot of places I never would have otherwise through Instagram.
Also, I get so much more free stuff on Popular Pays now... YEAH!!
Sorry for the novel. You all know I love Instagram, and it's something I genuinely love doing, so I had very strong feelings about the ups and downs of all of this.
Wait. How Do You Become a Suggested User Anyway?
Nobody knows. I've heard that you need to get noticed by someone who works at Instagram. They're looking for "model" Instagrammers, so maybe someone who follows others, posts/comments/likes frequently.
I noticed I got on the list about a week after someone who works at Instagram HQ followed me, and I think they noticed me from some other "Instafamous" Dallas people's accounts, who had noticed me after I went to a Worldwide Instameet event based in Irving, which I only went to because I got featured on @instadfw's account, which hosted the whole event (whew!). So maybe it was a large chain of events and a lot of luck. I've also been featured on other accounts with large followings like @ilovetexasphoto, @madewithmap, and @coffeesesh, so that may have helped put my name out there.
Thanks for reading!
UPDATE: In 2015, I was listed as a Suggested User again, which brought my follower count to over 111,000. Of course, as with a majority of Suggested Users, this number wasn't sustainable as I lose more followers than I gain by the day! I do get a bump here and there from being featured on accounts and through organic growth. I hope I have been completely transparent about the Suggested User experience! Feel free to ask me any questions!