Your business runs online. It means that you have to market online. There are so many tools and so many ways to communicate with your potential clients. But if you’re a creative, you’re probably (like me!) drawn to Instagram. Here, we’re breaking down my love/hate relationship with the popular social media platform and why you may or may not want to use it.
My expertise is most certainly not Instagram. I don’t have millions of followers. But, I am a proponent of running a sustainable and profitable business and writing from the perspective of, “is this tool actually going to help you make your business more sustainable and profitable?” I’m not convinced that it is. Let’s take a look.
INSTAGRAM: WHY I LOVE IT
It’s like a digital business card.
The number = credibility. When you meet somebody interesting for the first time, you might pull out your phone and find them on Instagram. If they have 250 followers, you might respect their opinion a little bit less than if they have 250k followers. It’s not “right” to do that, but I’ve heard people use it as a fly by metric to gauge what the person is about. You also get a quick sense of the kind of work the person does in a quick, interactive way.
It’s great for connections.
It’s a great platform to connect with people who you’ve never connected with and start new channels of contact. When you find an artist at a farmer’s market, you can follow them on the platform, engage them and be social. I’ve had collaborations come about from my interactions with people who have commented on my instagram.
It’s a visual portfolio.
For visually demonstrative businesses, it’s cool to be able to showcase your work to the world and represent the kind of thing you create/produce. It gives somebody a sense of what they can expect from you.
Your clients (and mine) are on Instagram.
The platform is a fun one to find your clients. They’re hanging out on Instagram already and it’s great to find people who you might have never connected with otherwise.
It is ever-changing.
Unlike your website, you have more regular updates that keeps the vibe of your business high, showing potential customers that you’re active and doing cool things. (Conversely, this can be stressful to have to post on the regular).
INSTAGRAM: WHY I HATE IT
People are in it for the follower count.
It’s a game of popularity which doesn’t actually tell you the quality of somebody’s work product or work ethic. Just because somebody has more followers doesn’t mean they aren’t established. I’ve met many online business owners who have no Instagram following who are million dollar businesses.
Followers does not mean profit.
Unfortunately, just because people have followers doesn’t mean they have a solid business. Followers might mean they have a strategy to turn those followers into buying customers. However, if there’s no strategy, the number of followers doesn’t translate to money. *womp womp*
It can cause an obsession.
I’ve seen many people who feel like they can’t quite get it right. They’re looking at the lack of engagement, the lack of new follows all of which can be super deflating. It can cause a lot of emotional health damage to focus energy into comparing your growth against others.
It’s not the strongest marketing tool.
Instagram might be where your clients are hanging out. But the platform makes it quite hard for people to purchase from you (minus a few newer features for people with larger business platforms). If you don’t have an email list of subscribers in tandem with growing your business Instagram, you’re missing out big time. Simply because currently, it’s not the best leveraged platform to create followers to customers.
It’s a tactic, not a strategy.
Instagram is an execution of a tactic. But without strategy or a bigger picture understanding of how your Insta fits into your business, it will be fruitless. People who are successful in business and in their Instagram game have something besides posting pretty pictures going for them. STRATEGY.
Many users are trying to get the wrong people to follow them.
I see this in all industries but I see users (businesses) trying to appeal to the wrong people – namely their competition or similar industry folks, for the majority of their posts. While this can be helpful in developing relationships and connections; however, what I find problematic about this is that it leaves the audience (the people with the $$$) out of the equation, telling them nothing about how they would benefit by following your account.
How I make peace with this love/hate relationship with Instagram.
Build a following and cultivate relationships.
I suggest growing your following not as big of a priority as you might have felt it being. Be on the platform to connect rather than to seduce people into following you.
Don’t obsess over it.
It’s unhealthy to obsess over the perfect photo, the perfect caption, the perfect set of hashtags. Yes, be educated about it enough, but don’t make yourself sick comparing your number of likes to somebody else.
Have a strategy.
Be reminded that Instagram should somehow be a piece of your marketing strategy, not the ONLY thing. Think about what the messages you want to convey are, what are you promoting, what’s the tone of what you want to convey. Being thoughtful prior to the execution will yield better results.
Don’t let this be your only platform.
Please, start an email list. You can use MailChimp for free. Or you can use ConvertKit or Active Campaign as alternatives (I’m on Active Campaign). This is where you can really cultivate and warm your audience. I’d challenge you to get better at email marketing than Instagram Marketing.
Use a scheduler.
One way to not stress yourself out is by using a scheduler. Tools like LATER are free on your phone. We use Schedugr.am for the Creative Empire Podcast. It’s great because you don’t have to push to have it post and you can have tags and a first comment – woo!
Spend time at one point in the week or month to plan out the “regular” posts. These are the ones that you know will go out. These are more strategic posts and are pre-planned. If you want more flexibility, you can still have pre-planned photos and/captions and post others during the week as inspiration hits or new ideas come to mind.
Don’t follow your competition.
One quick way to drain your emotional energy and reserve is to follow people who you’re triggered by. These feelings can feel like anxiety that you’re behind, or that your work isn’t enough, or that you should have thought of their idea first. If you notice those icky feelings, go ahead and unfollow them. It’s not personal. Your emotional health is more important than that.
I want to hear your thoughts about Instagram. Like I said, I’m not the Instagram Teacher or Expert but I do see people who are getting it wrong and are losing focus of things that can make bigger impacts in their businesses. What do you think of your current Instagram strategy?