I am not gonna lie. If you really want to fix your mindset around social media, you will have to get nerdy with me. A few weeks ago, Adam Mossier from Instagram said: ‘we’re no longer just a square photo-sharing app”. He said more things as well, but the message that spread like wildfire was that INSTAGRAM WAS NO LONGER A PHOTO-SHARING APP. They missed the very important “just”.
The panic was followed by THOUSANDS of reels of self-declared Instagram experts telling you not to panic – Instagram was still a photo app as well, but you HAD to do more video content to succeed now.
And they had the answers. Best of all, these answers were handed to you in 60-seconds or less with a dance routine.
These incredible tips were as specific as daily newspaper horoscopes. From where I stood, it only made more people panic, especially the small business owners and freelancers who heavily rely on social media for their promotion.
If you got caught up in the panic that is all good. If you’ve seen your engagement, drop and panicked, it’s also all good. That is part of the game.
Do I compare myself and feel bad occasionally? YES, of course. But I often try to keep my feed with people that inspire me – including competitors which keep me drive,
I am not promising you will make 6 figures in three days – and I’d recommend you don’t listen to anyone who is claiming that either. But I think I can help you unf*ck your brain around social media madness.
KNOW YOUR FRENEMY
Most people have a love-hate relationship with social media. Memes are fun, it can be an amazing way to reach customers and meet new people and, at the same time, waste hours in it AND feel like crap if you don’t get tons of likes, followers, or what-have-you. And I’m not even going to get into the data privacy thing, because that’s a whole other essay.
Before diving any further, let’s recap the basics: these platforms are not just businesses. They are BIG business – some of the biggest in the world – often with very troubling influence in the real world. Global ad spend on social media is expected to reach over $110B by the end of 2021
When Snapchat came around (remember that), Instagram quickly added stories. Now Tik Tok is the fastest growing social media, so Instagram introduced reels. Tik Tok is also investing heavily in its in-app shopping features. So, if you decided that you want to use any of these platform– that’s all good. But they are not your best friends – they want to profit from you. You are the product and the consumer.
And they do it because it works, because their algorithms are efficient.
BUT I HATE THE ALGORITHM
An algorithm is a code which lists rules to follow to solve a problem. As platforms evolve and consumer-behaviour shifts, so does the algorithm. But it obeys the platform – not you.
Thus, if Instagram decides that the best busines strategy is to get people to spend more time in it in a certain way (from likes to comments to video), that’s what it will do.
A good exercise to do, then, before freaking out with any algorithm change is to ask yourself: what would I do if I was the CEO of a social media platform?
I’d want more brands to spend more money with me.
And more consumers to buy on my platform so I can also get a CUT.
For that we need SCALE and consumers must TRULY engage with the content there so they can be INFLUENCED to buy the things promoted. And that, my friends include us as influencers/experts, our small busines products and everything else.
Remember: we are the product and the consumer
A few years ago, having tons of followers and likes were key. Now the new thing is comments and engagement and reels insights. On Twitter, people seem to kill themselves over the blue tick.
It’s a lot.
But since you’re here, I’d venture a guess that you own a small business (and freelancers are small businesses as well) so all you should be worrying about is your OWN metrics.
The way I see it social media can work for you – but you have to be pragmatic about it.
Ask yourself these questions:
- Why do I use this platform?
- Is it for brand awareness? How do I measure that?
- Is it to convert followers into consumers? How do I measure that?
If you are going to use these powerful platforms that have so much control over us, you might as well have VERY CLEAR INTENTIONS.
Case in point: I have a friend who owns a business with handmade products, targeted at the luxury market. She loves to tell stories and her products are about memories, so she often creates posts with VERY long captions. No reels. She has a great following, often rejects brand partnerships to stay true to who she is and her products are stocked in some of the most prestigious places, with customer from Hong Kong to New York. That’s because she understands who her audience is and what is special about her. To her business, it does not matter if she has a million followers because the followers, she does have BUY from her repeatedly and TRUST her.
A coach I interviewed on the I LIKE NETWORKING podcast built her ONLINE busines using newsletters and blog posts. She is never on Instagram.
The one metric that matters is one that only YOU can define because each business has a niche, an audience, and a purpose when it comes to social media strategy.
If this is TOO MUCH, it might be worth it booking a one-off session with a marketing specialist (a real one, not just a REEL one) that will create a BESPOKE analysis of your business.
WHY DO I FREAK OUT?
You are not alone.
- Social media engagement increased over 60% during the first wave of the pandemic. But always just a SLICE of people’s reality – often the good slice.
- Even influencers who claim to be authentic won’t share every single detail about their lives – just like you probably don’t.
A good exercise to do when you get caught up in a comparison trap is to look at your own feed as if you were a stranger and consider how much of that is your actual life. 20%? 30%? Why would it be different with anyone else?
Another thing to keep in mind is that not all that is GOLD. In 2018, Facebook disclosed to investors that it had at least twice as many fake users as it previously estimated, indicating that up to 60 million automated accounts may roam the world’s largest social media platform
ONE THING IS CERTAIN: THINGS CHANGE
Capitalism changes fast but technology changes FASTER. So, more changes will come and go, more platforms will come and go. If you want to use them, you got to come to terms with it.
If you struggle with uncertainty, here is a great podcast episode for you.
And to keep yourself grounded, make sure you have a support system around you. Bitching about the algorithm sometimes makes it all a little better.
About your author
Isabel is the founder of I LIKE NETWORKING.
A creative producer, public speaker & podcast host with over 15 years of experience in arts, culture & entertainment, passionate about bringing diverse talent into the creative industry – from artists to arts managers.
She has worked on a variety of non-profits, culture organizations and consumer-led companies, conceptualizing and producing branded experiences that engage core consumers, as well as communications campaigns, having serviced clients such as Levi’s , Converse, Lipton, Red Bull and Lollapalooza, amongst others.
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