Instagram, blogging, micro blogging, what’s it all about anyway ?
Lots of people ask & in my head I’m thinking ‘got a spare hour while I explain?’
I have been doing this a while now, and have had time to ponder all of it.
I started Instagram as a place to ‘put’ my pictures. I’d got tired of Facebook, and the negativity that can sometimes be there, so a few years ago, while I kept my FB going, I largely ‘decamped’ to Instagram.
The world of a million Rabbit Holes.
The world of shiny squares, of constant inspiration and a moving magazine of ideas.
When I first started on IG, I had no idea that it would become what it has become for me.
I followed some random accounts and didn’t really dare comment on anyone’s pictures. Then I thought ‘Oh stuff it, I don’t get it’ and deleted the app. *gasp from the crowd*
A few months later, and I thought I’d give it another go, as I really didn’t ‘get’ Twitter lol – and fyi, I still don’t get Twitter haha! I use it to check why I am stuck in a traffic jam, and to moan at BT, and that’s that. (so I guess, when people say to me, they don’t ‘get’ IG, I can kind of resonate because of my total fail with Twitter)
Anyway – I started following the accounts that give you daily prompts for photo Inspo, and started to tentatively comment on a few pics. I almost fell over when I got my first follower, and immediately presumed I was going to be stalked by an axe murderer. lol
I remember at about the 600 follower mark, I was starting to make ‘friends’ with people, and chatting daily on their pics – this is before ‘Stories’ or ‘DMs’ were invented. Back in the dark ages haha!
A few friends asked me nervously if I was planning on meeting any of ‘these people’, to which I replied ‘absolutely!’ And a few months later I found myself on a train up to London, to meet a wonderful lady who I’d been nattering to, called Carol, who was visiting London from the USA and we had afternoon tea together in the Dorchester (get us!) It was like we’d known each other for ever. (both of us figuring that the Dorch was a fairly safe and public place so the risk of being axe murdered in the dining room, was minimal. Besides have you SEEN the door men? there’s no way they’d let axe murderers in, well maybe only posh ones.)
It’s really an extension of being pen pals isn’t it. (although I will say, at this point, that you do obviously need to be very cautious when meeting someone you don’t know etc etc)
A few weeks later, I was on that train again, to meet 3 girls who, years on, are very very important in my life, and my ‘go-to’ buddies on our whats-app group. We all heaved a sigh of relief when we met at the station in London, that yes, we were all who we said we were, and no one looked dodgy. Well… that’s questionable …
So in the early days, it was just a lovely place to ‘meet’ like minded people, a massive garden fence to chat over, if you will.
And that was as far as it went really, a lovely community, to share ideas with, share inspiration, and share a bit of my life with & it’s still all that. I LOVE the fact that I get to peep in to other people’s loves, and yes, I do like seeing what you all have for dinner.
I have thought quite a bit about the criticism I often hear, about these shiny squares of ours. I have been really lucky and so far have never received a negative comment, but I admit I open DMs with caution, just incase.
Loads of accounts I follow look ‘perfect’. The lives are portrayed as magazine style aspirational, the faces are always smiling, the houses are always tidy.
I was questioned, the other day, about that. Not my account in particular, but how I felt about the constant barrage of glossy lives.
My answer would be this.
Generally, in your every day life, you get up, get dressed, do your hair and make up, go to work, smile, say ‘great thanks’ if a random colleague asks you how you are. While you are at work, wherever that is, you remain professional.
You don’t expect your boss, the lady at the till in the supermarket, your dentist, your doctor, the bank teller, the window cleaner (etc you get my drift) to be anything but professional, you don’t know them that well, they pass through your life, you use them for what you need, and off you go. They might all be having THE WORST time privately, but as a general rule, you wouldn’t know it. They are doing their job. They don’t need to share all the ugly ins and outs with you. They can’t share everything with everyone. Their lives behind closed doors are none of our business. Generally speaking.
And here’s the grey area. Instagram IS very often, a peep further in to a person’s life, behind that closed door. But that doesn’t mean they have to share everything with us. The beautifully edited image you see on your feed, is a tiny moment in that person’s day. It is a moment in time. The other bajillion moments might not be shared. The crying baby, the piles of washing, the worries, the ups and downs that every single one of us has in a day, a week, a month. I go back again, to walking in to work with a smile, and get on with your day, even though you might have left carnage in your wake, no one would know. And that’s just it isn’t it. Instagram is that tiny moment that the person chooses to share. That’s all it is. It doesn’t always give away the unseen. Unless the person chooses to share that, and that is their choice after all. So you might think ‘that person’s life is perfect’ but I bet we all know it isn’t really.
For me, instagram is NOT Facebook. I unfollow anyone who gets them muddled up. I don’t need to see your Time Hops, (Ok, one or two, but not all 10 from your Facebook) I don’t need to see 25 photos of your holiday in one go (I quite like seeing 2 or 3 a day though, cheers me up immensely to see holiday pics and gives me loads of ideas for my next break away)
And here’s another thing I have learned. People come, people go. As you know I have organically built quite a large following. Equally I have organically LOST quite a large following.
I use an app called Instrack. There are loads of tracking apps out there. You use them to see who’s followed, who’s unfollowed, who are your blockers, who are the top likes, commenters, etc on your account.
I initially downloaded it to keep track of followers as quite often my alerts ‘fall off the bottom’ in Instagram, and I can’t always see new followers. I dip in and out, deleting and blocking accounts that I think look suspect – for instance, accounts that are private, no profile pic, no followers, no posts & who follow very very few or thousands. I don’t think I want someone like that following me. Real person or Bot, who knows? It’s also nice to see who’s following, to dip in and out and say hello, and find fab new accounts to follow.
As for the unfollowers, it is interesting, I have most probably lost as many followers as I have gained. (around 30k yes indeed) If someone thinks we don’t have anything in common, they don’t like my pictures, or my face doesn’t look as they expected, I honestly don’t mind them going. I am far more interested in the followers. You can’t please all the people all the time. It’s a tough crowd. I still get a guilt attack if I unfollow someone though. Insert appropriate emoji (It’s very hard talking without emojis. I’m not sure I’ll make it to the end without using any!)
Bringing me on to my next point. (not emojis, that was in brackets so doesn’t count. I am talking about followers)
I know I have a lot of followers that like me for me. You comment regularly, you show support, you make me laugh, you are bloody fab to know and you make Instagram a total joy.
I also know that I have way more followers who aren’t interested in me at all (and that’s cool too by the way) they are interested in my house, the colours I paint on the walls, the kitchen, the Dior, (that’s the front door to the uninitiated) the little decorating projects etc. I am part of the bigger rabbit hole of hashtag Inspo.
I am mainly an interiors and lifestyle account and that’s what a lot of you have signed up for. And that is BRILL! I love sharing all that with you. I love it when you ask what colour is this or that, I love helping you out with your paint colour dilemmas or sharing where I got the stair carpet etc
So, to the subject of ‘the niche’ I have discovered that if I cross ‘niches’ its quite unpopular, you signed up for interiors and lifestyle, not a travel blog, or whatever. And I know my place. I really enjoy sharing my house with you all. And I totally understand that holiday pictures for instance (as I am just back from hols) are not what everyone wants to see, for whatever reason. I found it really interesting that I lost lots of you while I was away. I don’t let unfollowers bother me, as it’s way too draining to be wondering why. It’s just quite interesting to me. It is a tricky subject, one that I haven’t really ever read about on other people’s blogs or Instagram, but one I am willing to embrace, as its all part of the rich tapestry that links or unlinks us to & from each other. And I don’t need to discover why people up and leave. It doesn’t actually matter. There’s a saying isn’t there, that whatever anyone thinks of us is none of our business. And I think that is very true.
There is a brilliant website called Social Blade, where if you want to, you can compare accounts on all the social media platforms, you can see how well you are doing, or how well other accounts are doing, Its useful if you are a brand and want to optimise your partnerships with bloggers, and it’s also quite fun to just be nosy.
So – if you are all still with me and haven’t dropped off yet, I’ll move on to the here and now.
We all seem to see ‘hashtag ad’ on our feeds these days. Our favourite accounts being snapped up by brands who want to access their following. (and yep I’ll include myself in that)
I feel a bit sad when one of my fav accounts posts a beautifully curated image for a brand with ‘hashtag ad’ and notice it doesn’t get as many likes as their other pictures on the grid.
I don’t feel sad that one of my fav accounts has posted a beautifully curated an image with ‘hashtag ad’.
The accounts I follow, I love. I trust the girls running them, and I am delighted when they show me something gorgeous from a brand they think I will like.
Here is the rub. Yes, these accounts have been contacted by the band. (and that, in itself is no mean feat. How many accounts are there? MILLIONS. And to be found amongst that massive haystack, is amazing. And before a brand contacts you, they will usually have looked at your images, your engagement, oh, everything you have there to show. Your website if you have one, and most probably they will have checked you out on Social Blade or similar. They want to make sure that you are relevant to them) So to get a brand email popping in to your inbox is lovely. You have worked really hard to get the followers, to create the content and to have gained a large enough following for a brand to be interested in you, and blimmin well done for that!!
If I am contacted by a brand, I will think very carefully before I say yes. It’s lovely to be offered PR gifts in exchange for a ‘Story’ or to be paid for posting an image, but if that brand isn’t a brand I love and would buy their stuff anyway, I say no thanks.
I trust the accounts I follow. I use them as a filter, to narrow down what I am after, whether its a new rug, or a paint colour, or a fab new handbag. If they started showing me stuff that didn’t ‘fit’ because they have said yes to a random brand and are basically just showing me their free stuff, it turns me off straight away. And there are some amazing accounts out there that are my Go-To filters for stuff. I like them and I trust them.
It’s all a fine line though, isn’t it.
I say yes to brands I love. And I think I know what will work, and what won’t with my followers. And I also like to share stuff that isn’t sponsored, endorsed or paid for by brands. I have worked hard to gain your trust, and I won’t throw it away by working with the wrong brands, with the lure of freebies. After all there is a limit to the amount of STUFF a girl needs and trust needs to be earned and is way more important than selling yourself out for a PR gift.
Saying that, once I have agreed to work with a brand whether it’s a gifted item or a paid post, and I think I can speak for lots of bloggers here, that brand wants their pound of flesh, The images have to be spot on, and often need to be previewed by the brand to make sure they are happy. The content can take ages to create, to get it just right. Good images and content don’t just ‘happen’ it can take hours. So to be gifted & paid, is not that hard to fathom. You wouldn’t ask anyone else to work for free, would you? You wouldn’t give a painter a fantastic new brush and a pot of paint and get him to spend hours painting a room and not be paid, would you?
Again, it’s a grey area isn’t it. I had someone ask me what I was earning through blogging the other day. And I asked him straight back if he’d care to share his salary with me! (ps not enough to give upon my day job was my real answer)
Although blogging has been around for ages, blogging and influencing is all still quite a new ish concept to me. The fact that you can carefully forge a career out of it still surprises me, and there are brilliant accounts out there doing just that. And I think good for them! it’s not easy. If it was easy, EVERYONE would be doing it. I guess its ok to feel a bit envious if someone is working with a fab brand and is showing you the gifted items, but, and I hope this is true, it is for me, she will only be showing you them because she knows you trust her, and its good stuff. That you probably need. Scrub that, it’s stuff you definitely need to buy immediately. lol, I discovered fidget spinners through a sponsored Instagram story. Rolls eyes at the whole world!!!
The accounts I love to follow, give me so much, they are consistent and inspiring, and I think of them as friends I can steal loads of ideas from. And that’s another facet of IG isn’t it – It’s inspiring us and influencing the way we all shop. And I’d rather trust the taste of my favourite accounts, than a celebrity endorsement on the tv.
Instagram has given me and heaps of others, a voice. And we can use that voice to say whatever it is we want. To share whatever it is we want to share. I feel SO lucky to have found my voice in so many ways (if you scroll back on my blog you’ll understand exactly what I mean, but this is about blogging/instagramming and influencing, not about cancer)
CRUMBS! this is a looooong post and it hasn’t even got pretty pictures!
I don’t really know how to end this post as I could literally jabber on for YEARS.
So. for now, I’ll say thank you for reading, sorry there aren’t any pretty pictures. And could someone bring me a coffee?
I’d love to know what you think about some of the topics I have covered, from whatever view point. I think it’s a really interesting subject, anyway I’ll shut up now!
Lots of love as always