When I joined Instagram way back in Ye Olde Dark Ages (ahem, 2012), the now-infamous photo-sharing social media platform was barely two years old. All around me, people were posting blurry photos of cats followed by a funny SMS screen grab followed by a sunset. No one ‘curated’. No one thought about their ‘aesthetic cohesion’. We were all too busy doing whatever we were doing in 2012…err, watching the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee on the telly? Sigh. It was a simpler time…
Nowadays, you just need to open your social media platform of choice – Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, whatever – to see that the whole operation has become a bit more – well, slick. Individuals have been rebranded as influencers, shaping trends and commanding huge sponsorship fees. Businesses aren’t just there to inform clients about a product or service; they’re promoting an outlook, a way of life, a holistic vision of an aspirational existence. Photographs that don’t fit with the message or the colour-palette are mercilessly culled, or they simply don’t make it onto those hallowed squares in the first place. Everyone looks so much more together than they did five or six years ago.
They want fresh, inspirational, consistent content that fits with their sense of identity. They scoff cynically at #instacliches and shady advertising; at those who post too often or too little or who use the ‘wrong’ hashtags. It’s not that they’re being deliberately callous – it’s more that the bar has been raised. 500 million Instagram users are active on the platform every day (check out more stats here if you’re interested in who those 500 million are) and, frankly, there are so many of us competing for attention that promotion has become an carefully-scripted artform.
Feeling a little overwhelmed? Trust me, you’re not alone. Thankfully, here at Anchor & Dash we’ve come up with some helpful tips to overhaul your thinking – we’re nice like that. Try these for size…
First off, have a plan. You wouldn’t go into a client meeting or a session with your accountant without planning, would you? Social media is one of the most powerful promotional tools you have at your fingertips – don’t leave it to chance. Hone key messages, visionboard your brand and research the platforms and strategies that will work best for you.
Use a scheduling tool and batch schedule. Don’t let the distractions of real life derail your online presence – take photos and prepare streams of tweets in bulk and in advance and let a clever scheduling tool like Buffer or Hootsuite do the posting for you.
Own your brand. A wise Teddy Roosevelt once said ‘comparison is the thief of joy’ and by jove, he was right. Yes, those photographs of sun-soaked Miami complete with lithe, tanned models in colour-pop bikinis really are something, but if you’re an alternative family portrait photographer based in rainy Cumbria you need to accept – no, celebrate – that your brand is different – no better, no worse, just different – and equally glorious.
Only post if you have something valuable to say. If it feels contrived or false or posting-for-posting’s-sake, don’t – wait until it flows. If you follow our advice above and stick with your key messages and own that brand, you’ll be brimming with ideas for blog posts, tweets and captions anyway.
And finally, don’t forget – it’s a social NETWORK. This shouldn’t be the digital equivalent of you standing on a plinth shouting into the void with a megaphone – you’re here to engage with people. Ask a question, offer a freebie and applaud good work where you see it; you’ll soon turn a passive audience into an active community.