Its no secret that Instagram has become one of the most used social networks there are. With 1 billion active users it has become a platform that almost all of use for one way or another. From sharing family photos to making money from an online business Instagram has a place for everyone. People are raising awareness, sharing light and humour, taking incredibly creative photos sparking imaginations, blogging, vlogging, flogging; it’s all happening via this one amazing app.
But, how much time are we spending on it? What effect does it have on our mental and emotional wellbeing? (Not to mention the physical aspects of scrolling instead of strolling).
I have listed my 10 tips for finding a happy balance on Instagram in the hope they can shed a little light on how to find a happy medium together, through an app that certainly isn’t going anywhere soon. These tips are just my own; my outlook on a place that is becoming so huge it’s a world in itself. I see Instagram much like life, and try to approach it in the same way. I don’t have it all figured out, but I do know that we are at risk of losing touch if Instagram becomes all consuming.
- DON’T follow someone because everybody else does. It’s like the old saying ‘If so and so said jump of a bridge would you do it?’. The same applies to Instagram. Follow someone because you like them; because their squares make YOU feel good. Think of who you follow like one big group of pals. If they make you feel a bit crap, stop hanging around with them… ie UNFOLLOW. That’s the beauty of these squares
- DON’T follow everyone just to be nice. I made this mistake when I first started out. If anyone spoke to me I thought it was so lovely I must follow them back as a thank you. But I soon had almost 2000 people I was following and couldn’t keep in touch. I tend to view who I follow based on who I am nattering with regularly and engaging with their squares and I do update it too to make sure I’m staying in touch with everyone. In the same vain, I do spend time replying to DM’s and comments as much as is healthy. I try to give 30 mins to an hour a day to this as I am as invested in those who follow me too. Like friends in real life, you must be invested for it to last the long haul.
- DO post what makes YOU happy. I see a lot of monkey see, monkey do on Instagram, and it is easy to fall into that trap. ‘What are the cool kids doing at school? I’ll do that!’ You are your own person and posting what you think will get the most attention all the time will only zap the joy from what you’re doing. If you’re posting and unsure, your first thought should be, ‘Does this show what I’m about’ not ‘How many likes will this get?’. The only time you should ask ‘What will get engagement?’ is if you are running a business/are a content creator and therefore are providing images specifically for your consumer.
- DO have a laugh. I think this is really important for all. Instagram is a great platform for raising awareness on serious matters and many do this. But if your feed is filled with too much heavy text and meaning, you run the risk of bogging people down; including yourself. Bearing all on Instagram is a brave thing to do, but you must ensure your own mental health doesn’t suffer in order to help others. Like the friend who always has a problem. It’s tiring and becomes draining, and it will drain you too. Share the raw but make sure to share some laughter too, for both your followers and yourself.
- DON’T rant too much. Being educated and being angry are two totally different things. If you follow me, you will know that with me ‘a spade is a spade’. There is no pretence or BS to anything I say. HOWEVER, opinions are like arseholes. Everyone has got one. So try really hard not to be too one sided and negative if something doesn’t sit well. Instagram is going to come with a wide variety of opinions now, and the best way for us all to be happy is to be a little more accepting of the fact that the way we see the world is likely to be different from another. That is ok. Share your view but share it with some grace and dignity. Question but don’t accuse. Allow for discussion.
- DO give something back. This one is for businesses and influencers out there. Influencers get a lot of stick at the moment, and many are tiring of the ads and the sponsorships. But in reality, it’s just new age marketing. It’s nothing wrong. However, much like in life, if you take the time to do something good, and give your followers something back. Whether it’s charity work, filling their day with good fun and laughter, working a job that people can relate to alongside it or whatever fits with you, then I generally think people are much more supportive. I’ve recently took some time to dip out of paid ad work as I want to focus on my business and I really needed to clarify how I was going to work with ads (if ever) and didn’t feel it was right to continue with where I was at. I’m also crap at sales and previously felt I needed to do hard sell. Since doing so I’ve educated myself much better on myself as a brand via my business and realised that if your brand is strong you don’t need to be good at sales because your brand sells itself. In that vain, I now pride myself on honesty and integrity and work with brands I already use or discover and love. I like to think my followers trust me, and only share who I’m working with without any hard sell. (After all, you will decide what you want and don’t want). With gifts I’ve now asked them to sent 2 products so I can gifted the second someone in need. I don’t think the issue was ever actually a case of how it’s labelled with a hashtag or not, as the same problems are still occurring, in fact worse I think. If you view it from the other side, it must be so hard to follow lots of people who seemingly have free stuff coming out their arse whilst struggling to make ends meet. I think it’s a balance and equally believe that an influencer who still does ad work and sponsorship can earn a healthy living with support from their followers. If in some way they can then pass on the goods they receive to a worthwhile cause, or even to their following via giveaways. Transparency really is everything. People are generally good people and everyone in one way or another just wants to support their family and give them the best. I just personally think it’s SO important to remember the term influencer comes because people invest in you and your story/family and it’s because of them you have these free things, and they still don’t, so we MUST find a way to give something back and remember that. I stand by the hashtags being a bit wanky. I’d much rather just be told I have to say thank you the old fashioned way.
- DON’T ever think that your following gives you status. Donald Trump has 9.5 million followers but he’s still a twat.
- DO take time away. There are apps now that track how much you scroll. It’s quite a scary thought for some of us. If you find yourself aimlessly scrolling, put your phone in another room and take a break. Even better, delete the app for a week and see how much you get done (This is 100% on my to do list but I’m yet to get round to it as I truly adore the community!).
- DO remember that people post the best bits generally. 99% of the population are still wearing clothes grabbed from a pile on the floor, with holes in the crotch of their leggings because Primark is shit whilst navigating a maze of brightly coloured toys all around the house. Likewise, the couple laughing like they are the Walton’s have most likely told each other to f*ck off in the last 24 hours because….parenting is hard and Instahusbands would rather chew their toe than take another body photo of us pretending to laugh in the field of lavender, and on that note, that field you see someone aimlessly skipping through are located approximately 765,000 miles from that persons house and just made for a great shot. It’s all for fun. It’s a visual platform and it’s designed for this. But be aware it’s for that. Those people are doing it for fun and not taking it too seriously so make sure you don’t either. Look out the window, to people passing in the street. They aren’t in flowery dresses with a basket full of berries singing ‘The Hills Are Alive’ (well except Laura @all.thats.pretty who genuinely is the prettiest happiest floweriest loveliest person ever who actually makes magic by travelling to fields of flowers and probably actually does skip to the sound of music……we’ll let her off!) but anyhow, honestly, chill. You aren’t alone.
- DO fall in love with the app. If your hating on it, you’ve got the wrong tribe. Build one you love and know that it is so hard to get seen on the app these days. It’s not personal. Businesses, just focus on sales and not followers. Sales can be generated outside the app. Influencers, remember how alien that world is to many and be upfront about what feels good for you when making money. People are generally happy for people who do good. And to the new mum who feels like the only one at home scratching her arse whilst wondering what the fuck happened to her general hygiene…. I’m right here pal, scratching my life away!
All of us must remember we will not be everyones cup of tea, and that’s cool. It’s nothing we did wrong. It’s just like real life. This app has such tremendous plus sides and if we can learn to accept it for what it is, we can reap all the benefits whilst keeping ourselves in a positive and healthy mindset.
Be interested to know how you manage the ‘gram?