MY THOUGHTS ON INSTAGRAM....ONE YEAR LATER

I did it! A year ago, this week, I joined Instagram! After dragging my heels on joining the end all be all Spot for beautiful photos, one year ago I hit Share and now I have a gazillion thoughts on the platform. Some good, some bad and oodles of mixed emotions. 

I’ve never been a Facebook girl, never will be and Twitter was getting boring and with my blog growth at a standstill. I needed something, so Insta it was. I had these visions of wonderful photos and taking pictures with things like a giant Birthday Balloons, did that; Christmas tree lots and pumpkin patches & Old Trucks!

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Reality is, pictures aren’t instantly better on Instagram, they’re still the same old pictures you’ve been taking and if you don’t travel weekly or have an interesting place to take photos, or a dedicated assistant, LOL, they can sometimes be a little vanilla, but that’s OK if that’s what you have to work with!



It is a complete love-hate relationship with this social platform. For this post, I’m going to break it down into three things. The things I adore about Instagram, the frustrating things about Instagram and Tips to grow your Instagram.
I am by no means any expert, but I am a research girl, so I did my research for almost a year about Instagram before I even joined. I felt prepared and quickly learned some of the ropes. I still have a lot to learn and I’m hoping that will help me maximize my priorities and not spend so much dang time on there! Particularly, getting sucked down rabbit holes, LOL! Don’t we all?



INSTAGRAM PROS
OK here is what I adore about the Gram! Hands-down, the community and relationships there! I was truly worried about the comparison and all the younger girls dominating but definitely not the case! Everyone is so uplifting and supportive and there for you if you’re struggling with something and shared on your stories. I truly want to lift up others there and they do the same for me! It’s a beautiful thing!

Just like the Blog, I’ve even “met” people on Instagram that I’ve become real life friends with. With Insta, I’ve been blessed to meet people close by that I can actually get together with. We bond over local loves. 

The opportunities it has opened in regard to the blog and acquiring products. I did fairly well with affiliate links and ads and some sponsorships on my blog, but I’ve been opened to even more opportunities on Instagram, often in exchange for great free products that I would’ve maybe purchased anyway!
Yeah and you stage photos of said products like this one, lol!

Stories are fun! It took tons of getting used to, hearing my own voice, not feeling awkward but you get used to it. They’re fun to do and watch. It just once again, takes time. 

You get inspiration from other people's Insta photos much like Pinterest.
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INSTAGRAM CONS
The cons, oh the cons! I will try not to make a huge list but sometimes they do outweigh the benefits. First of all, the creeps! I even shared once in my stories how I’ve been offered an allowance to be some creeps platonic friend. No thanks, my husband gives me an allowance, LOL! Block, Block, Block. 

Then, it’s the constant barrage of people wanting me to join their fitness routines or pick up a side hustle or buy into diet products or how to be successful promotions. Nope, I’m good on all accounts. I’m early retired for a reason and I do just fine with my fitness and diet, LOL!

Oh, and let’s talk about the people who follow and then Unfollow. Yes, sometimes it can be hard to tell, and I know a lot of my friends have tracking apps for that but I keep a list and go in and physically check it every now and then. There was one time when I followed someone who I truly admired and thought the admiration was mutual only to be devastated that she unfollowed me. I know I should not take it personally, but I actually called her out on it and she felt so bad and said that it was because of a service and that if it ever happens again to let her know. I so appreciated that honesty. Trust me, I get it, everybody wants to grow but not have to be following thousands of people because you don’t want that many filling up your feed and not be able to see all the people you love when you scroll. However, don’t follow me if you’re going to Unfollow me in a day or two. I appreciate the people that follow and stick around and often times it’s those people who I interact with that I absolutely want to follow back!

And finally, I’ll leave my last con at the algorithm! Before I was on Instagram, I often heard about this but had no idea what it meant in relation to the app. Now, I totally get it. Instagram has total control over if what you share gets seen and that is just wrong!
I hate NOT seeing the people I love in my feed or seeing posts from 2-3 days ago. Please keep it current and in order Insta!! 
 And on that note, please do not take away the likes, it’s not a game, it’s just nice to see who actually likes viewing your stuff!

INSTAGRAM TIPS
Ok, the growth! My goal was 1000 followers each quarter, so by the end of this month I was hoping to have at least 4000 and I have surpassed that. Now, keep in mind I am not normally a numbers girl but if I do want to continue to be successful and have growth, then I need to get to that golden 10,000 that makes it easier for your readers to just swipe up to find a product. If my account was just a personal account, I wouldn’t even care about the numbers, but it is indeed part of my business and an extension of my blog. It’s so funny, because when I started thinking about joining Instagram there were so many people that told me, had I joined it when I first started blogging almost 5 years ago, I’d be making six figures by now. I really don’t pay much attention to that, yes the extra money is fun, but it’s my hobby and it’s awesome to be creative and share what I love with others!


So, let me share with you what has worked for me to grow my Instagram.

Hands down, the number one thing is ENGAGEMENT! I like and comment like crazy! And not just a comment like “so cute!” Rather, I leave genuine comments! Does it take a lot of time? YES! But it’s worth the work and I love complimenting others.

With that being said, BE AUTHENTIC!!! That is so important to me!

To help with time spent on Insta, I usually only post 3 times on week and on the same day I publish a blog post, but I do spend 3-4+ hours broken up on those days engaging. During the days in between, I comment for about hour.

Take care of your followers first, engaging with them, then check the comments from those you follow and find new profiles to comment on. Sometimes they follow you.

Tread lightly with giveaways. I’ve only done a few and one was a little sketch. Make sure the person or team running the giveaway have a lot of followers, communicates well, they unfollow as soon as giveaway is over so not as easy for participants to unfollow and prices to join are reasonable. A good majority will continue to follow you if you have good content. One thing I won’t do is buy followers or join a growth service.

Refresh your feed often so you can see more of those you follow.

Try to do stories but don’t feel obligated especially if it makes you overwhelmed. Stories are Hard!! It took me forever to get used to my own voice on there. And I don't think people hear everything I say as scrolling through is a thing, lol!

If I really had to give only one Tip, it’s the genuine, hard work commenting on as many as you can and answering your comments. People like to be heard and valued.

Here’s hoping year two teaches me even more. Tell me what YOU think about Instagram. I am a huge believer in lifelong learning and change is inevitable so who knows where Insta will takes us. But above all, have fun, stay true to you and take media breaks to clear your head! Now, I’m off to take pictures with pumpkins, lol.
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HAVE A LOVELY DAY!!



xo

56 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts on IG Andrea. This was helpful and informative. I agree with what you said regarding the pros and cons. I still don't get the follow and unfollow business but I guess that's part of the territory. Algorithm, ugh, I don't even want to bother why IG play with people like that. Congratulations on surpassing your one year goal and I am excited to see what's in store for year two!

    Maureen | www.littlemisscasual.com

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  2. So interesting (and refreshing) hearing someone's thoughts on IG. I love aspects of it, but sometimes struggle (don't we all!) Your ideas brought a new perspective for sure! I'd love to increase my followers, but it's so important to me that it be authentic. So, I'm going one step at a time! Love your reminder about the importance of engagement. :)

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  3. I really enjoyed this post! I have been off Instagram for a while because I was wasting too much time, but you have inspired me to consider getting back on in order to help grow my blog traffic. Awesome job growing your numbers!!

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  4. I kind of love that you've been able to grow without going crazy on social media. Instagram is definitely a great fit for you though, even if it can be a time suck. It is so much fun to see your smiling face in my feed.

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  5. You are one smart cookie and it was a brilliant idea to do your research before you joined IG! All of your hard work has paid off and I love seeing your success!
    xo,
    Kellyann

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  6. Great post, Andrea! I know we have talked about the trials and tribulations of Instagram before, but I loved hearing your thoughts. I struggle with the platform, mainly because of a lack of time. Totally agree about being yourself and engagement. And yes, so many creeps HAHA! Happy Monday!

    xo, Rachel
    A Blonde's Moment

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  7. What an honest post filled with smart tips! You put so much work into it!!

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  8. You know how I feel about Instagram! I'm so glad you wrote this post! Engagement is key and you have to decide how much time you are willing to give. I need to get better with stories and really need to work on getting comfortable talking and the video aspect of it. You have done such a great job growing your account! I'm so happy you surpassed your 1 year goal!

    Jill - Doused in Pink

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  9. I'm so happy that you joined that social platform a year ago! I love your stories and hearing your sweet voice! Those haters are so bizarre - glad you aren't letting them affect you! xo, Biana -BlovedBoston

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  10. I cant seem to get my IG to grow. I only have a little over 400 followers. I do not understand the algorithm or how to even refresh my feed.
    I love your IG page and stories.
    Lisa

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  11. Great post, Andrea! I will always enjoy following you on Insta! And true that for the being authentic and genuine! So glad you joined the Insta Family a year ago! xo

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  12. Love your tips and I love seeing your pictures in my feed! xoxo Your stories are the best!

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  13. I am so glad that you joined Instagram and love your tips! Instagram definitely isn't my favorite and I agree with you on so many of these. It is SO true about engaging with your audience--it seems to make all the difference!

    Rosy Outlook

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  14. I've been trying to get to 10,000 forever. I only recently found a community who will comment consistently on my photos, so that has helped the engagement I think. I always see your comments on friend's photos and you take great ones so I have no doubt you will get to 10000 soon.

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  15. You're an Insta superstar in my book! Thanks for the honest talk about it all! Have a great day!

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  16. What a fun, well thought-out post! I'm glad to hear you're enjoying Instagram one year in. And I appreciate your candid thoughts on what you like and don't AND how much time you spend engaging. It's definitely a commitment!!

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  17. Hola Andrea, me parece una muy buena aportación sobre Instagram, la verdad yo no conozco mucho ni averigué antes de unirme, solo sé que en algúm momento alguna red social supera a otra, por lo que también ser genuino es importante, las afinidades me han llevado a seguir instagram, sobre todo en el mundo de las uñas, pero no lo he visto como negocio, creo que acá todavía estamos pegados al Facebook...yo por mi parte también ahora sigo algunos youtobers...Saludos

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  18. I agree with so much of this! I'm glad you joined Insta! When my old Insta stopped working for whatever reason & I suddenly had to start over going from 5300 followers to 0 I was devastated. I started my new one almost 5 months ago to the date & the past 5 months has changed my viewpoint on IG A LOT! I still want growth for sure, I just hit 1000 the other day & I was psyched, but I realized just how much IG had been taking over my life before. I was spending pretty much the entire day on there every day. Making sure I was ALWAYS posting 1-3 photos a day, going through my hashtags on my photos & liking/commenting on the photos in there every couple of hours, replying to every single comment, etc. Basically I realized I had stopped living in the moment & was more living for IG. I still like it & use it, but if I don't post for a day...or 4 which is where I'm at right now, I have realized it's not the end of the world. Mad props to the people who are putting in the hard work day in & day out to grow their account, & even bigger props to the people making money off of it, because I know just how much work it takes. 4000 in a year is awesome! Congrats to you!!

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  19. You are doing great! I suppose I dont comment or like enough. I may spend an hour a day on insta and my account is at a standstill. I can't imagine the many hours that needs to be spent. Happy Monday!

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  20. So many wise words. I stopped focusing on growing it for business, and keep enjoying it for posting whatever I want whenever I want. I always love seeing your stories, you're so fun. Congrats on all your success in one year! xoxo

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  21. I am so glad you joined Instagram last year! I love keeping up with people on there daily when I might get behind in blogging. Plus, it is almost more personal feeling. The cons are quite strong though, aren’t they?! I wish they would have more balance.

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  22. YES, my friend! Yes to all of this! Insta and I have a love/hate relationship, as well. I'm not so much trying to grow my brand as I am trying to build connections, but the constant follow-for-follow/try my MLM thing is so frustrating, too. I want to be polite, but I also want people to get to know ME before that haha cheers to Monday, sweet friend!

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  23. I am so glad you joined us on Instagram. I feel like the positives outweigh the negatives, just like in life!!
    OXOX
    Jodie

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  24. Hi Andrea, oh this is a great post. I feel that there can be some annoying things about IG but I think it's a great social media tool for bloggers. I really enjoy seeing you in my insta feed and your stories sweet friend! Have a great day. Julie xo

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  25. Yep, IG is gonna do what it's gonna do, so you just can't let it get you down! I gave up on trying to grow on there a long time ago other than the occasional giveaway and I feel so much more sane now. Haha. But seriously, it's awesome that you were able to surpass your goal for year one! I have no doubt you'll surpass your goal for year two as well!

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  26. I get so aggravated with the way the feeds work - I remember the good ole days when things were just in chronological order & it was WONDERFUL. I dont get why they wont go back to that!!! Theyd' still earn their money from scrolling. I miss so many people's posts.. & i know my followers & like counts are bare minimum now. I dont care - not what Im' in it for - but I also know I'm missing out on my friend's posts! THATS what aggravating to me.

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  27. Hi Andrea - I just found you through Between Naps on the Porch - and I love this post! I've been struggling a little with Instagram too, and the time it takes. But the Loves outweigh the trouble, and I'm hoping to implement a system like you use. Thanks for your candor and insights!

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  28. Great tips my friend and you hit the nail on the head. You have done so much in a short year and grown beautifully. Keep up the good work!!!
    XOXO
    www.coasttocoast2.com

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  29. I love instagram. I do hate the endless loop giveaways and algorithm, but it is good for inspiration, engagement and friend making! You go the hang of it so fast!

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  30. Love hearing your thoughts about Instagram. I'm a new follower of yours!

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  31. That was a great share, thanks. I recently had my Insta 1st birthday too. I decided to go private for a while to have better control over the creeps, especially when on holiday with intermittent wifi. It was so peaceful, albeit bit boring! I can't work out the numbers and how to make any money, so I really focus on the engagement ... And you are the most engaging CUTE commenter on the planet, so I thank you for following me!
    Hugs, Mary x.
    thepoutingpensioner.blogspot.com

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  32. I miss the days when IG was strictly chronological. I love your posts and stories...keep being authentic and the followers will come!

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  33. I agree on so much of this. I love to engaged with others on IG. I want an authentic account as well. I hate the algorithms though. Ugh.

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  34. I can't believe it's already been a year! Wow time flies! You're so good about using Stories. And you're a natural at it! Me, not so much - so I envy your confidence - big time!! :)

    Shauna

    www.lipglossandlace.net

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  35. Wow, what an informative post. A lot of it is too much thinking for this old gal. I just use Instagram mostly to share pics and see pics of my friends and acquaintances. And Facebook the same. You have learned so much in the past year...I remember when you started! Your photos are so well done, your outfits darling, your recipes lovely and delicious...you are an Insta dream!! Pinning this wisdom for reference. I still don't do stories but need to figure that out! Thanks for sharing.

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  36. I agree with all of your thoughts! It's like my exact same ones - and ugh the algorithm and the follow/unfollow accounts - so frustrating! I love watching your stories; it feels like I get to chit chat with you every day!

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  37. Great post Andrea, I've learnt some things and been on IG for over three years now! Well done and good luck hun. xx

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  38. It's great you've enjoyed Instagram so much over the year! :)

    I agree with you on the downsides though, all the weird messages I get and the annoyance of all the photos being 2-3 days old gets a bit draining sometimes. I don't use it as much as I used to, but you're right there's a great community on there and I find it easier to find local style Instagramers than bloggers - I've gone to a few playdates and meet ups thanks to Instagram and I'm so grateful for it!

    Hope that your week is off to a great start :)

    Away From Blue

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  39. I have to be honest. Many of the Instaqram stories of the people I follow are way too long. Sometimes they go on and on and on about 20-40 times in order to get through the story and sometimes they are just emotional junk on their part (I for one don't want to hear that) and not worthy of watching. Stories need to be short to hold my interest. Otherwise I just go click click click click. Be gone!

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  40. Thanks for sharing, Andrea! Creeps, yep they are out there, but thankfully getting less of those to block! My numbers of followers which are around 140 go up and down on the weekend by a few but thankfully I am seeing steady growth. I am working on leaving real comments and engaging but it does take a lot of work and time. I don't have a goal number just hoping to continue to grow!
    www.chezmireillefashiontravelmom.com

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  41. Please tell me where I can get those adorable slippers! They are perfect for my daughter in law that has a birthday coming up.
    Love your posts xo C

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  42. Thanks for sharing everything you learned about IG. I am a blogger with Instagram because my daughter blogger said I needed to have it. Thank you for letting me know why!

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  43. I stopped posting on IG after the algorithm ridiculousness and now it's so hard for me to break over 50 likes when I was getting 100 before. It's chump change in the scheme of things, but it still is annoying. I wish they had a setting that would make it 'most recent' like for facebook, too. Sometimes I don't see people's posts until much later! You had some really good points here!

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  44. These are good Instagram tips. I stopped using it because kids at school were harassing Lauren too much about it. She was being a real trouper, but I don't want to do anything that's going to make her life difficult. It's hurting me with sponsorship, but surprisingly, didn't really effect my sales too much.

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  45. Insta is a crazy place. Definitely a fun place that can breed growth and inspiration. However it can easily take over everything in your life. I do love it but I have stepped way back because well life is fun and meant to be spent outside and with ones I love. Because insta and blogging is a hobby I like posting fun things on there and spend time when I want on the app!

    http://www.ruthyannie.com

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  46. I have a love/hate relationship with all social media so I get where you're coming from. I find that I use each one a little differently and so far it works. I'm probably slowest with Instagram, so it was interesting to read your tips about how I could improve there. I still prefer my blogging community the most, but it's nice to hear that Instagram can provide great community, too.

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  47. Such a Good post girl!

    Patty
    Goodbetterbestfood.blogspot.com

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  48. Should I admit I don't really do any of them-- not Insta, twitter, FB (well; sometimes but rarely)… I guess I'm just not one for much in the way of social media. Sounds like for the most part Instagram is really working out for you though.

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  49. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on instagram. I've had a personal account for years where I follow very few people and only allow my closest friends and of course my family to follow me.

    This past July I opened an instagram account for my blog. In the beginning I was creeped out by how many men were following me and not because they were interested in my blog. One guy was ridiculously forward even though I clearly state I am a Pastor's wife and grandmother. And yes blocking is your friend. Because I was so freaked out by the forwardness of these guys, I did turn off messaging which I realize may restrict me from people I may want to hear from, but this is a decision I am still sticking with. People can certainly comment and I will respond.

    I am enjoying the new community I am meeting on instagram.

    I really appreciated your insights here. Thanks so much!

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  50. I love hearing your thoughts on this!! I too have a love hate relationship with this app. There is no denying that it has opened up some great opportunities for me, but it is very time extensive and some days I just can't be on my phone a lot. Since the last algorithm change it's been even harder for me, which it shouldn't be, but that's insta for you. Anyway, I always enjoy what you share and love engaging when I can!! I'm glad you decided to join :)

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  51. You were right - we were totally on the same wave-length this week. Everything you said is SO true and I've been trying to get as frustrated as I have with it, but the past couple of weeks, I've just been like, "whatever." Hoping to get back into it a little more dedicated starting today:)

    Laura
    Black Coffee Beautiful

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  52. I really enjoyed reading your thoughts on this. It gives me insight since I am a new-ish blogger. Have a great weekend!

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  53. I found your post quite interesting. I enjoy instagram, but only for fun! I have been blogging for many years and hesitated IG for quite a while. Some people post great photos and i am beginning to enjoy it more than blogging, mainly because it requires less time (for reading) and posting!! Great info - thanks!!

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  54. Very interesting post, I have given up on Instagram for mist of the reasons you stated above. It reminds me of being back in school and feels like a popularity contest. All the pretty girls get the votes instead of the quality of the product. This following then I'm following is just rude and tottaly put me off.

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  55. Hi Andrea. I'm not on Instagram but just wanted to tell you this silly little thing. Putting my post on Linda's party I saw your pic sitting on the green truck. You look so much like my sister that I had to stop and stare. She is quite a bit older than you but, just wanted you to know, that you are going to be gorgeous as you age, just like her..Happy Fall..Judy

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  56. Hey lovely! So glad to hear things are going well for you.

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