Friends....we finally made it to Friday! Did anyone else also work Monday, wish for a snow day on Thursday and feel like this week was just about 7 years long?! I’m looking forward to an engagement session this weekend and some time with friends (and plenty of rest!). What do you have planned?
Today’s Friday Chatter is part informative and part personal reflection! I made a mini challenge for myself at the end of January last year and have tried my best to stick to it ever since. What was that challenge? I’m so glad you asked! I decided to post on Instagram everyday for a month. It's that simple! At the time, I was only posting when I had content or when I felt like it. I didn't really have a strategy for engagement, and I realized that I was missing out! I really wanted to challenge myself to cultivate a deeper connection with my online followers while building a relationship with a brand new audience.
This last year was a year of shadowbanning and algorithm changes and a whole lot of social media uncertainty. I learned so much this last year, and actually had A LOT of fun in the process. So much so, that posting every day has become a habit, and now, my days feel weird when I am not spending a little bit of time putting together a post. (YES, I know this is crazy, and it is a habit I am working on) I've brainstormed some of the BIGGEST things I've learned over the last year or so and compiled a list for you! While we're at it, if we aren't connected on IG, let's do it! Head on over to my profile here and send me a DM to say hello!
Connecting with others on Instagram is fun!
I've met friends and clients and fellow business owners, all through one little app! How crazy is that?! I so love using my photography to connect with others and it still blows my mind when people end up in my inbox and let me know that they initially found me on Instagram. I love using Instagram to keep up with friends and family that now live life across the country, to connect with other creatives and to share a little bit of my life with others. Social media is so much more fun when you are using it to cultivate a true community!
The grid is a struggle! (But it has also so helped me define and refine my style!)
I feel like a lot of small business owners and creatives can relate to this. It is so tempting to slip into the vortex that can be grid planning! For those that have no idea what I'm talking about, open up your Instagram profile and take a look at your first 9-12 images! Often, creatives and business owners will post content in a certain order and way to ensure that this grid is beautiful and cohesive! Y'all...it looks so amazing when done right, but it is one of the toughest things! To be honest, this was one of my BIGGEST frustrations this year and often kept me second guessing my posts. There is a little silver lining though! Posting regularly really allowed me to see what kind of work I got excited about--what kept me fired up! And as a result? I made a few (BIG) changes to my personal style this year, and a lot of this is thanks to how I was viewing my personal work in my profile!
Side note: if you go to my profile, you may notice that I don’t have 365 photos!! How on earth did I post for a year of I don’t have 365 photos?! Vulnerability alert: I got so self conscious of my grid and my work that I culled significantly through my grid at times! I’m trying my best to break this habit and to stay true to loving what I’m posting!
Follow/unfollow is real and if you’re doing it, you should stop.
People always think I'm crazy when I talk about this, but for those that don't know, I will explain what follow/unfollow is in just a few words! There are certain accounts, some ran by people and some ran by bots, that will follow users in hopes that they will get a follow back. When they realize that the user they followed did not follow them back (and often when they realize that the user DOES follow back too), they will unfollow your account. Guys...this makes no sense to me, but it happens! A LOT. I know so many people that put a lot of thought and a lot of love into each of their posts, and it just feels so wrong that there are people exploiting their efforts. It is so frustrating to watch your numbers climb (Thinking YES this may actually be working!), only to watch your numbers drop by double the followers you just gained! What in the world?! Now...this is definitely not something that should be taken personally, but it is sometimes tough to swallow! (Especially when you're THISCLOSE to a big goal!) I am a huge supporter of only following accounts that will bring a smile to your face when their content goes by in your newsfeed. Genuine interaction and community is SO much better than following random accounts just to boost your numbers!
Post when you can.
There were quite a few times that I was posting at 4 or 5AM in the morning, and I had to be okay with it! Because otherwise? I would have had no time to post that day! I'm currently rockin' the three job hustle, and don't often have the luxury to post at a time that may yield peak engagement. Now...is this the best advice? I’m not so sure! But, it works for me! I soon learned that I preferred posting mornings over evenings, and it became part of my regular routine. The craziest part of this? I soon found out that my posts became part of some of my friends' & followers' regular routines too! I had a few people tell me that they look for my posts on their daily train/Metro/Subway rides, and if that just isn't the biggest motivator and honor, I am not sure what is!
It is okay to skip a day.
Burnout is real and I found that Instagram was often a big culprit of my anxiety that lead to me feeling burnt out midweek. After my one month challenge was up, I gave myself a little more freedom to skip posting days. I tried my hardest to post each day, but some weekends and busy days were given a miss. The craziest thing about skipping a day is that I can almost guarantee you that you are the only one that will notice! Give yourself some grace, some time to plan, and hop back in the game when you are ready. Usually, the next day, I was itching to share something new with my followers and it felt SO good to have the day off!
Relevant tags are key.
Tags are your friend, but they are not the ONLY thing that matters. I recommend using appropriate and accurate geotag and hashtags on your posts, but there's a catch! First know that the algorithm of Instagram is always changing and this fact may change in a matter of days! Because of that, I recommend sharing content that you love and cannot wait to share with the world! Tags have great power to help you fight through to your target audience, but you will truly stand out from the crowd when your audience can see just how excited you are about posting something. Another part of tags? Using SPECIFIC hashtags that you feel potential clients may be watching is a game changer. Get honest with yourself! What hashtags are people really looking at? Think simple & local. Avoid industry talk when you can, unless this is the audience that you are trying to connect with! I had a few clients let me know which tags they found me under this year, and it SO helped me curate my list of hashtags that I often pull from.
Keep your links current.
I fell in love with linktr.ee this year! Each Instagram user has one chance to share a URL with their audience! Do you share your website? Blog link? Contact page? When do you change your link? Do you change your link? There are SO many options and so many things to think about! When I discovered Linktr.ee, I breathed a big sigh of relief because so many of those concerns left my head! With a platform like linktr.ee (or a similar landing page, hosted on another site or a page on your website), I know I can share multiple links with my followers. I can leave certain links up for days, weeks or months at a time AND I can see the content that my followers are engaging with. This is SO valuable. After all, a huge point of social media is to connect with followers and to PUSH them towards the content you want them to be viewing (Which if you are a business owner like me, is most likely your website!)
This is the point that I cannot stress enough, y'all! If you are using social media for your business, sit down and write out your goals and vision first. Not only is it so important to develop a social media strategy that will help push you towards your goals, but it is so important to give yourself enough time to make these things happen. I cannot tell you how many times I've been guilty of scrambling the night before, trying to throw a post together to go up in the morning. The irony of this entire planning process doesn't escape me....isn't the whole point of Instagram that it is supposed to happen in real-time? After all, it is Insta-Gram....right? The reality is that, your time is so much more precious than real-time posting AND the landscape of social media has completely changed! If you're out with friends or are shooting a wedding or are enjoying a vacation or are learning at a conference, you should fully be able to take care of or enjoy whatever is going on in your world BEFORE you feel like you have to share it. Plan the posts that you hope to post in real-time and create a plan to support you when you are planning on posting images later! I currently transfer photos from my computer to my phone by sending myself an iMessage! Captions are SO much easier to type on the computer than they are on a touchscreen. (Bonus: I keep potential Instagram photos in a folder on my desktop to grab in a pinch when I may be low on content!)
The social media time-suck is real.
Social media is GREAT for sharing your story with your current and target audience! It is also great for taking up SO much of your time. Raise your hand if you're guilty of doing the mindless scroll?! I really hope I am alone here because I my wish is that you are out from behind your phone and are living your best life in the real world! Throughout the last year, I learned just how much time social media can rob you of! I personally try to reply to every (genuine) comment that comes through and almost every message! I also try to keep up with friends' posts and industry hashtags and all of that good stuff. PHEW...it is enough to get sucked into your phone for HOURS! One of my biggest goals for this year is to get away from mindless engagement and to gear towards mindful engagement. I'm hoping to train myself to engage with my social media accounts during a specific block of designated time! (If anyone has any tips in this department, hit a sista up!)
Tell your story. Personal photos do best!
By far, the posts of mine that pulled the best numbers were photos that either: included my face, included a personal story, included my dog, or included a combination of all three! I really came to understand that I could best serve my followers by sharing a little something about myself with them. I find this to be pretty challenging to do, personally (putting yourself out there is scary guys!), but it is slowly becoming less weird throughout the year. Keep in mind, stories are also a great and relatively temporary way to share some of your personality with your audience without clogging up your feed!
PHEW that went from 0-100 REAL QUICK, y'all! If you have made it this far, first head on over to Instagram and make sure we are connected. THEN, you deserve to go get yourself a cookie! Happy Friday, friends! I hope you have a beautiful weekend!