Updated: Feb 29, 2020
Over the past few weeks/months/year I have read so many Instagram posts about the algorithm on Instagram, and how little organic reach business/content creators are now getting in comparison to a few years back. I understand when relying on Instagram for a good chunk of your advertising/marketing, this can be scary. Likewise, if you are trying to get started, it may feel like you are just shouting into the void, and not growing at the rate you wish.
If either or both of these sound true to you (believe me, I have been there, and read a million a one strategies on what to do and what not to do)....then read ahead.
A little back story, on my Instagram Journey....
I started to understand my 'brands' aesthetic, so with this in mind, I posted only pictures that were light and airy, predominantly pink and rose gold. I would show only this corner of my studio, as it was 'my product' photography set up and it looked 'perfect' and was free from all my tools.
I would take these images on my DSLR, and usually post with a caption that was uninspiring and unimaginative, something a long the lines of "New Copper & Rose Gold options now available" and guess what, no one really cared.
People would see me in real life, and compliment me on how pretty the feed would look, but hardly anyone would actually 'like' or respond to images.
At this point, I had researched the 'correct' times to post, so I could increase maximum exposure as possible. I was setting out time to take the photos at the perfect time of time, between 11am-2pm when the studio was the brightest. I was using as many wedding related hashtags as I could, and still nothing . In terms of every google searches, I had tried every trick in the book and it just wasn't working.
(To top this off, I would batch take my photos, then sit there on the say Wednesday 8pm, and type up my caption and have absolutely no idea what to write. I felt uninspired and bored by it all, I knew I didn't want to make it sales-ey, even though it would end up that way.
I deliberately never added much personal aspect either, I kept it strictly business. I personally don't really do social media, but knew I needed to make changes, in order to see different results.
(At this point was around 2.5-3.5k followers, and had instagram for around 4-5 years). I was also quite fixated on numbers, and 'wanting' growth!
Changes needed to be made, so here is what I did....
1. I Changed my view on Instagram. I used to see myself as a 'brand' that was selling to the public, so likewise would post products that were available in my online shop.
I decided to ditch this strategy, and instead started connecting with like minded illustrators, hand lettering artists and small business owners. I started to really champion the incredible work of others, fill my feed with beautiful looking work, and start building relationships. In other words, I began online networking, and building connections that were both helpful and inspiring.
(I had previously had my work heavily copied, so I shut down from sharing anything, and in return stayed in my small bubble!) Instead of seeing the trade as competition, I changed my mindset to community, and have met some awesome and talented people/brands along the way!
2. I post whenever I feel like I have something I'd like to share.
When I'm struggling to post something, or think of an idea, I now know that it's ok to just not post anything. When I feel uninspired and bored by own post, I know it won't perform very well, and i'm just posting because I feel like I have to put something out there.
Instead, I only post when I feel like I have something to share. It may be in the middle of the day at 11am after I have just enjoyed creating a new lettering piece, or it may be at 6pm when I am back at home, and doodling on an image that I took earlier that day. Consequently your energy and passion will shine through, and your community will sense this :)
3. Forget about the numbers.
The numbers or followers doesn't necessarily go hand in hand with sales. I have sold more in my online shop with only a few hundred followers, and realising this made realise I needed to forget about the numbers.
Just because you have a huge following, it doesn't mean everyone will suddenly be purchasing your products. (Although, when I started out, it feels like everything would be better still, if I were to have a big following).
Funny enough, when you start to forget about the numbers, and concentrate on connecting with people, you may see organic growth.
4. Enjoy being creative!
If you are reading this, chances are you a creative person. Likewise, I decided to treat my social media like a new creative outlet, instead of marketing.
I stopped making marketing post to sell to people, and started to create work that I enjoyed making. I though of all the ways I like being creative, outside my usual work skills, and started thinking how can I incorporate this into my work.
I know I'm passionate about what I do, but it wasn't coming across in a standard photo, so how can I show people...so here is a list of what I did.
• Create videos of me lettering the orders
• Create 'passion projects' i.e. create work just for myself, and show people along the way.
• Share the messy behind the scenes, along with all the jobs i thought were boring (packing orders, tying ribbons, setting the machine up)
• Included snippets of my personal life, but instead of just a photo, included lettering or illustration. Adding the human and vulnerable element.
• I created my own GIFS (I used to make them for myself and friends on MSN messenger back when I was a teen. Who didn't love a flashing pink LOL sign!!)
5. Limit my time & turn off notifications.
I only spend 30 minutes to 1hour (max) a day, and have had to put a stop to mindlessly scrolling. Instead I dedicate this time, to uploading my post and connecting with others.
I turn off all notifications, for all social media/whats'app to avoid being distracted. I only have notifications for Etsy Orders, and phone calls.
6. Stop Caring!
So this sounds daft, after I have written a blog post about the whole subject. However ultimately I've connected with amazing artists, students, entrepreneurs and businesses through dropping the 'perfectionism', and only posting work I enjoy creating and at whatever time of the day I feel like.
Through these changes I have a healthier relationship with social media, and I am so glad that I decided to make the switch just over a year ago now!
What are your thoughts on Instagram in 2020? Or have you got a question about anything mentioned above? Let me know in the comments below, or if you wish drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org