Some thoughts about Instagram
Every so often, a fellow small business creative makes a confession.
“I haven’t posted anything to the grid in… (lowers voice)… months, Amy. Months.”
Oh, that Instagram guilt. It’s easy to feel bad about not posting often enough; not posting the ‘right’ stuff; feeling stressed with the content creation treadmill, and anxious about whether your followers are engaging. And it’s why some creatives get in touch with me, looking to outsource some or all of their social media process.
Quick note – I’m happy to help, and I absolutely can support you with a range of social media tasks. But before jumping into that: are you sure that this marketing strategy is the most useful thing for you and your business, right now? Let’s do a quick review.
First of all, shed that lingering guilt, right here.
None of us are keeping score on how often you pop up on the feed – and anyone who misses seeing you online is likely to be an actual friend checking in that you’re OK, not some teacher-boss-nightmare judging you for not posting your homework. We’re not going to be mad at you, or disappointed if something more important came up in your life than those little grid squares.
So you don’t need to start a post with “sorry I haven’t posted for a while…” In the nicest possible way (I say this with much love) – we probably didn’t notice.
The Spotlight Effect is the tendency we all have for believing that we’re being noticed more than we actually are. You may feel painfully aware that it’s been weeks or months since you added to the grid, but remember: nobody is seeing all of your content. You are the only person that does. You could post every day for a fortnight and I still wouldn’t see it all if the algorithm’s serving up other stuff to me, or decided to take some time out from the app. Even your top fans will miss a story or two.
If you haven’t posted for a while? Just kick off again with your usual great content. Delete the apologetic intro and start with whatever you hopped on to say.
The only thing that definitely does notice is the algorithm, and that’s not something you need to apologise to. It’ll reward consistency, but it’s not morally judging you (yet).
OK, now let’s look at it objectively. Do you need a new approach?
Instagram is a short-term, here-and-now strategy. We craft content (graphics, captions, hashtags) into something that shines for a few hours – days if we’re lucky – and then it sinks out of sight, lost to the scrolled out vaults.
It is a useful platform for me with Ace + Wren as a service-based business – potential clients can suss me out, see what I offer, and start conversations with me in DMs – but for my product-based business, I don’t get a huge return on the time investment. It’s just a lot of work to make a sale that way. And sure, working for the sale is part of running any small business… except that there are other strategies that get me more clicks, website traffic, and completed sales for the same amount of effort or less.
So I’m moving towards investing more time into:
- Pinterest pins
- SEO (search engine optimisation)
- Email marketing
These strategies won’t bring an instant validation of likes and shares, they tend to require some extra effort initially to set up processes, and it might be a few months before seeing positive outcomes. But if you can hold on through that, you’re likely to see some really nice numbers when you crunch the data.
For many of us, it’s probably still useful to keep a seat at the Insta table, especially if your ideal people are hanging out there regularly. It can be a great place for customers or clients to get to know us a little better, and keep growing the trust that we’re good at what we make and do. But that doesn’t mean you have to start your content creation there.
Why I like to begin my content buffet with blogging
I’ve started encouraging clients to begin with a blog, and then repurpose that content for their Instagram feed (either they can pull out bitesize sections themselves, or I can turn it into posts for them). Blogging can bring a lot of benefits for your small business, and prioritising it at the start of your process adds a few more.
It’s a bit like making a huge batch of chilli. There may be a long list of ingredients and a fair bit of preparation. You’ll have to wash, chop, saute, simmer… but hey, you can do it at a chilled-out pace on a Sunday afternoon, listening to music or your favourite podcast.
And once it’s done, it’ll feed you for AGES. You can have some with a jacket potato today, then in wraps with avocado tomorrow. Freeze a few portions. Blend it into a soup. Make a quick snack with tortilla chips.
Now think of blogging like that big lovely batch of chilli, needing some prep work at first but then ready to repurpose with a little bit of creativity.
Creating just for Instagram kinda feels more like making lots of mini meals: always sourcing novel ingredients while others go mouldy in the fridge, using all the pans and utensils so you’re overwhelmed with washing up. Sometimes you just can’t face feeding the hungry algorithm even one more thing.
It’s easier to chop down content than scale it up. So start with your blog – write as much as you can on a topic you know something about, when you’re feeling inspired and relaxed. Do the research, craft the words. Then ladle out spoonfuls of content from that into Instagram posts, Pinterest pins, your email marketing, and other social media.
And remember it’ll be a long-term content stash for you – it doesn’t all need to be repurposed straightaway. When inspiration isn’t knocking in a couple of months’ time, I can pull some portions out of this particular blog post freezer (yep, I’ve got super invested in this chilli analogy) and throw together some lovely easy content snacks across the channels I use.
Want to chat to me about supporting you with blogging and social media tasks? Get in touch!