The Balance between Social Media Growth and Authenticity.
I felt compelled to write this piece today.
Not for myself.
But I am constantly asked to assist people, businesses, influencers and individuals in how to grow their Instagram.
This is a form of Social Media Management I offer, but am slowly moving away from as my business has exploded and my time is limited, so I wanted to write something about it.
And be warned, this may not be popular…but that’s okay with me, I’m not trying to win any popularity contests here.
What I have to say, may not even serve you, because you’ll be hell bent on having the largest amount of followers you possibly can anyway.
But regardless, share I will.
Because I feel it’s important.
When I first started out on Instagram, I had no idea what I was doing. Hashtag what now? lol I spent months learning and slowly finding my feet within the world of Instagram. I watched, I studied, I observed.
I naturally attempted to build relationships with people and businesses who do similar to what I do. I wasn’t told to do that, I didn’t read an E-Book. I just naturally gravitate toward relationship building, because one must always find one’s sense of “community”- so that’s what I set out to do.
Obviously, I am a small business owner within Australia, so I reached out to and attempted to build relationships with other small business owners, within the homewares sector, from Australia.
To say it was a bust, is an understatement.
Much larger accounts simply ignored my efforts.
Smaller accounts just didn’t respond to likes or comments at all.
That sense of “community” I craved so desperately, completely eluded me.
But I remained consistent. Each day, I posted one photo, with commentary attached. Usually between running around after a toddler and breastfeeding a new born.
As a Mama to two babies under two years of age and three teenagers, it was so hard.
However, my business allowed me some escapism. The same way reading used to transport me to another world and place as a child. My business has been built from passion and a firm and steadfast belief in myself and what I do and what I know I can accomplish.
Blind Faith, some may call it?
And that would be true enough. It’s gotten me into some precarious positions over my lifetime! lol BUT, it serves me well too.
I am fearless in my pursuit of what sets my soul on fire. And to that end, my business was born and has blossomed.
But I digress…
Having had no luck in the Australian design and homewares market, I started following and commenting on my mentors accounts from overseas. Mostly US accounts, with a smattering of UK and Europe thrown in there. And I got better at the hashtag thing and it was almost as if by magic, I found that sense of “community” I had so yearned for.
With the Australian accounts I attempted to get to know and build rapport with, it almost seemed as if they were threatened by another business within their realm. Which is sad. And weird. Because there really is enough room for everybody.
The global accounts I interacted with, fortunately saw this and understand, for the most part, that everyone can have a place amidst the chaos and beauty.
Businesses, individuals, influencers, poets, writers, bloggers – we all belong. We’re all on our own journey, we can all fan one another’s flames without the worry of our own light burning any less brightly?
And so I was welcomed and encouraged and buoyed by the support I got. Suddenly I found my content and pictures being re-grammed and shared like mad. Once or twice I hit Instagram’s “explore” page and I got over 2000 followers in one night!
My mind was blown.
I can still remember the days, when I got 11 likes per picture. It wasn’t that long ago!
And I was intensely grateful for those 11 people who decided to like my picture lol
I went from 1600 followers – to 30K in 4 months.
I went from 30K followers – to 100K in the next 4 months.
It was astounding and my account was a juggernaut I literally could no longer control.
As a small business owner, I couldn’t be more grateful or humbled by the growth I’ve experience and the love and support I’ve received from peers around the globe.
I am proud that my growth has been completely organic. I am proud that I have remained consistent and authentic. And I am proudest of the fact that in the end, the very end – it is NOT the amount of followers or likes per picture that drives my passion AT ALL.
As a creative and as a business owner – my only hope was to find other souls who liked what I was putting out there. Who felt like my vibe resonated with them. Who saw beauty, joy and whimsy in what I produced and what I had to say.
The amount of followers you have – is actually largely irrelevant and not a true indication of any semblance of success. Not as a business owner, individual or influencer.
The KEY always has been and always will be ENGAGEMENT.
Our entire lives are built and shaped and lived well, because of the relationships we cultivate and nurture and foster and grow. Instagram is no different to real life.
We’re all just people?
Some of us run businesses, some are brand reps, influencers, designers, bloggers, travellers, writers, poets, photographers – the list is actually endless. Some, combine all of these things at once, in some enviable mutli dimensional, unicorn-like existence lol
So knowing, that the relationships we build and the way we interact with people, is THE most important thing we do – in life and on social media.
How is buying followers EVER a good idea?
How is buying likes on posts EVER a good idea?
Does anyone actually sit in front of their computer and think as they agree to purchase followers – that it IS a good idea????
Because it’s not.
It’s the worst thing you could do to yourself and your account.
Growing organically and remaining authentic, is the only way forward.
You can try to “cheat” sure. And for 23 seconds it looks impressive. BUT suddenly people start wondering about your ridiculous growth. Suddenly people start having a look at your followers and realise they’re mostly fake accounts. Suddenly your engagement level is utterly shit compared to the amount of ‘followers’ you have and you realise, that you’ve cut your nose off, despite your face.
The fact is this;
Having a truly successful, engaged and constantly-growing following, is hard work. BUT…if you love what you do and you’re passionate about what you’re doing, then the “work” part is justified.
Do I NEED 100K? No.
I truly never thought I would ever end up with over 100,000 followers. It still blows my mind on the daily.
What I do and the way I do it, is very ‘niche’- it’s different, it’s not mainstream. It’s not ‘on trend’, nor will it ever appeal to the masses.
So I never dared to assume, in my wildest dreams that I could get anywhere near the amount of followers I find myself with today.
All I have ever been focused on is my business and my craft and my content. It’s what enlivens me. It’s what lifts me and it’s where my passion is.
So I stay the course. And I remain consistent. And I work HARD. Every single day of my life.
Because my business, is MINE. The pictures, the words, the products, the intention – it belongs to me and my heart and my desires and woven throughout are my dreams, laid bare and offered up to the world at large.
I feel so incredibly privileged that I get to do this every day.
Is it easy? No.
This is the hardest thing I have ever done. The balancing act between running a business and being a Mama is so tough. Make no mistake about that.
I rarely sleep.
I often work through the night when my family are sleeping, so I can feel somewhat productive.
I style rooms with two babies underfoot, which is so stressful, I can seriously feel my blood pressure rising second by second lol
BUT – I do it because I love it. Because the styling, the designing, the writing are my loves. Something left over that just belongs to me. And let’s be honest, as Mothers, we so often lose ourselves amidst the madness that our lives become.
So the time I spend on my business, is precious. This is my baby, my joy, my dream.
Does having 100K mean you’re successful? Not always, no.
The amount of followers you have, is NOT a direct reflection of who you are as a human being, nor is it an accurate reflection of the success of your business.
At the end of the day, as a business owner, the amount of followers you have, are irrelevant – what IS relevant are the people BUYING from you.
Some weeks, I sell absolutely nothing.
It’s the nature of what I love and what I source and what I have.
Sure, there are plenty of good weeks. Even great ones. But during the weeks where nothing is sold, IT IS HARD.
Does having 100,000 followers make me feel better when I can’t afford a loaf of bread? No. lol
So people, WAKE UP!
There is an art.
A beautiful, fluid art – to growing your accounts and remaining authentic and managing to be a good human being, all at the same time.
Plenty of accounts are built solely from reposting other people’s pictures.
I don’t understand them. I don’t get it.
What makes me laugh, is every now and then they’ll post their own shot and it tanks – so they go right back to Pinterest to steal pictures or they repost the work of other accounts.
For me, as a creative and as a business owner – I think that’s a shitty way to BE in the world. I think it’s shitty to grow off the back of other people’s hard work, creativity and effort.
Reposting other people’s pictures constantly doesn’t make your account good, it makes you a leech who is happy to have bolstered numbers because you’re stealing from actual artists and creatives.
But it’s also the truth.
Post your own content!
When you create your own content, you are telling your own story, building your brand, investing in your own dream - not hijacking someone else's.
Are you picking up what I'm putting down here?
Having a strong and powerful social media presence and brand is THE single most important thing you can cultivate for yourself.
You’re gaining no one’s respect by reposting 7 million pictures from other people’s feeds.
And who are you kidding anyway? Does 7000 likes on a picture make you feel good? Even when it’s not YOUR picture?
I don’t get where the personal gratification actually kicks in here? Where? How?
It can’t feel good.
Because you’ve created nothing. You’ve offered nothing. You’ve contributed nothing. You’ve achieved nothing. You haven’t been authentic. You haven’t offered anything of yourself to the world. You’ve just reposted someone else’s picture?
Which is easy to do. Albeit, it’s also a shitty thing to do.
But it will never be satisfying.
It will never thrill you.
And it will never make you proud of yourself.
So on many levels, social media is baffling.
People justifying doing shitty things and stealing others content to grow their own accounts – is disappointing and crappy and actually fairly pathetic.
People buying likers and followers? Please. You’re paying money, to lie to yourself?
Get your focus OFF the numbers.
Get it OFF!
And instead, enjoy the creative process? Enjoy being authentic and immerse yourself in the celebration of the gifts only YOU can offer to the world?
Try that. I promise you, it’s WAY more satisfying.
People won’t always remember what you say, or what you do – but they will NEVER forget the way you made them FEEL.
And that my friends, is the absolute, hand-on-your-heart, beautiful truth.
Lead people to FEEL something?
My God, allow YOURSELF to feel something!
Life is not a race!
Having loads of followers is NOT the aim? It’s not even on the bucket list for goodness sake.
Do you know what it IS? A beautiful bi-product that comes organically, of it’s own accord, when you are AUTHENTIC. And enjoy the process of giving of yourself!
I promise you that.
Some people treat it like a race. Like there’s an end game? How many followers are enough for these people? 1M? 7M? How many? Does it ever end?
Because let me tell you something – in life, in REAL life – there is always someone who is smarter and prettier and more talented and has their shit together, way better than you do.
And so it is on Social Media, there will always be those who are larger, who churn out better pictures, who write better content, who grow so much quicker, who are funnier……the list is actually endless.
It aint a race people.
You don’t need to be the BEST, the largest or to grow the fastest. You just don’t.
What the world needs, is for you, to be YOU.
And if you can’t or won’t give them that – then your ‘imposter syndrome’ is warranted and the world will see through you, just as you see through yourself.
If you don’t believe it, aint nobody else going to believe it either.
But hey, that’s just my opinion.
I’m a big believer and a solid lifetime advocate of the LESS BULLSHIT, MORE AUTHENTICITY CLUB.
We only get one life.
One go around.
I don’t have time for bullshit.
Not from anyone.
Least of all from my damn self.
Simple as that.