Location: Knightsbridge, London
It’s 23:45 at night and I’m tired. I fully admit that I had no plans to publish my usual Tuesday post. I’ve spent the day dealing with my car that has been in repairs for almost three months now and is still not fixed (a joke – I know), cleaning out my inbox of emails that have been there for over a year, organising events and all in all just not having a peaceful moment all day. My last work call ended at 20:15 and I thought I’ll just publish the Instagram post I wrote yesterday and have an early one. As you can tell, this didn’t happen, but don’t get me started on my messed up sleep pattern. Now I know my niche is predominantly travel, but sometimes I feel like I need to share my personal thoughts on the world of social media – Instagram in specific since it’s everyone’s favourite love to hate / hate to love app. I’m up late writing about this as I feel like we are getting it all so wrong. Why engagement is down, story views are down, etc… I spent a good deal of time thinking about it this weekend and here are the conclusions I have drawn.
For those that don’t follow me there, here’s what I wrote on my post yesterday. When I joined Instagram back in 2013, I know what I wanted to see. I wanted to see images of countries I knew nothing about. I wanted to learn new facts that made me think. I wanted to learn about products that I’ve been looking for but didn’t know existed. I wanted to be inspired. As the years have passed and the space got more crowded, it feels like all I see are crazy shots with the goal of getting attention, of seeking fame and popularity. Which brings me to my first point. What are we trying to achieve? Do we want to want to get more collaborations with brands? Are we looking to make money? What is our goal? I think if we each answered that question individually then we could learn a lot from the answer. Regarding collaborations, I got my first at just over 500 followers from a brand that just liked my content and for the second point – you do not need Instagram earn a living; there are plenty of other ways to do so and it’s just a case of finding them. For example, my favourite photographer has under 2,000 followers and I am sure they are earning a lot more from their photography through word of mouth. I know this because I used them for my own wedding.
I think we all fall victim to this vicious circle at some point, myself included. We want people to follow us, but we forget that what people want to see is something that adds value to their life in some way. This brings me to my second point – I think brands are part of the problem. Some still value the follower count over the engagement that a picture generates and this is wrong. You could have 100,000 followers, but if only 1% of those are truly interested, then it means that you have an engaged audience of 1,000. You could have an account of 5,000 followers to get the same results. The question is – would you rather be the most popular person in the room, or the most valuable?
This leads me to my third point! If Instagram is making you feel down – focus on other platforms! I’m loving using Pinterest at the moment and after taking a course on it, I now range from 7,000 to 10,000 unique views each month. I only have 66 followers!! Think about it. The principle is the same for Pinterest – people use it to learn about things to DO, TRY or BUY. It’s an avenue that is definitely underused by people looking to build a career in pretty much anything. I would say for me, it has now become more important than Instagram and it comes without the added pressure of gaining followers and without having to spend hours engaging. When I learnt how to use it better it felt like winning the lottery!
And so, here are my final thoughts on this. I think the whole purpose of adding value to others has been completely lost. The goal now is to grow, whether the followers gained are actually interested. It’s the very reason why people unfollow soon after following. The reality of this is that if so many are posting the same kind of pictures, it’s not adding anything new and people don’t need to follow you to see the type of content that everyone is posting. Create content that is something you want to see – content that is creative, inspires, teaches or motivates. You’ll notice that those who are having success are those that do these very things – whether it’s creating cool outfits that people want to wear, inspiring others to better their life in whatever way, teaching about new places or products or just motivating others to be the best you can be.
I hope this article has been comforting to those that feel like it’s a lose-lose battle. I’m no expert in social media at all, but I am after all, a fellow consumer of the content others create and I know the content that will stay with me, long after that Insta image has been posted. x