Social media is stressful.
Yeah sure, there are cute pictures of cats. But as creatives, we have to worry about copycats (+1 for silly puns goes to Anna).
We have to balance what to post, how to post, where to post, who we are talking to, how often should we post, and how everyone else’s stuff looks better than ours.
This recap is going to be gold for everyone who is hiding under their studio table biting their fingernails stressing over their next Instagram post. Ah, yes, most of the stuff below is focused on Instagram, even if I don't explicitly state that.
First off, a big thank to Yao for taking notes for me. Without her, this post would have never happened! Why? Because Anna, your fearless writer, was off galavanting around New York City at a wedding.
Well, here we go.
...did I forget any?
As freelancers and business owners we have to make the decision about what platforms we are going to be awesome at. If we tried to be active on all these platforms we’d spend the entire day on social media instead of creating.
The different platforms are like different rooms in your house. You use each room for a different reason.
Twitter is like climbing on the couch- it’s casual conversation.
Instagram is going into your studio and making good work. It’s professional and serious.
Facebook is the dumpster in the alley behind the apartment. It’s whatever is leftover or not totally thought out or organized.
The first piece of advice: start with just one platform. Learn the basics, become a pro, and then move on to the next platform (if you even need to). The basics can be complex enough.
Find your point of entry into the platform. Identifying good focused content can be a great place to start. What’s relevant to your portfolio? Pictures of your dogs and food, your art, your process?
Be intentional about why you are on that platform. Create consistency so your followers know what to expect and get value out of following you.
If you are on different platforms, make the content different! For example, you could use Facebook as your ‘behind the scenes’ platform to show off your process and studio, Instagram for finished work and portfolio-level stuff, and Twitter for resources you’ve found.
What about strategy?
We’ve already touched a bit on strategy above, but let’s dive deeper. We’ll go through some examples of fellow Rise and Designers in action.
Yao is all about consistency in her posting. She has divided potential posts into three different categories that all best represent her portfolio and art. Then she plans it all out 3 months in advance. Yes, you read that right. 3 months. It allows her to spend a bulk amount of time figuring it all out then just letting it run.
Patrick uses the features of the platform to get more views. It helps boost his organic reach. He also dabbles in paid ads to increase visibility. Patric is very specific about the hashtags he uses and never uses generic tags.
Someone else has a friend on Instagram that using the stats to see when the highest volume of visitors and viewers are to her profile. It helps her decide when to post.
But! In order to see all these great stats, you need a business profile. P.S. We’re talking specifically about Facebook and Instagram here.
There wasn’t a consensus in the room about having a business profile. On the one hand, it’s nice to have a division between the business and personal to help you focus posts and not feel like you need to insert the personal into a business account. On the other hand, it could split your followers and they can end up eating into each of the accounts.
Hacks and algorithms
I’m just going to list out some hacks and algorithm tips that were in the awesome notes Yao took.
Each platform has a different algorithm, regardless who owns them. So yes, Facebook and Instagram have different algorithms. Pay attention to them.
Instagram- If you comment more than once on your own post within 45 minutes - 1 hour, the algorithm will push you up in the general feed more.
Instagram- If you unfollow everyone your own followers will go up because Instagram will push you in front of more people.
Google- The search engine is trying to catch up with social media platforms. It is pushing people to make quality content by rewarding it in search results.
Facebook ads- Yes, you will get more eyeballs but it’s a super annoying ad platform to learn. There might not be a direct correlation in sales but hey, you’ll definitely increase awareness.
URL - Your website is the hub for everything. I can’t stress this enough. Social media is only an extension that points back to your website. Make sure you’re putting as much effort into your website as your are social media. They should reflect each other.
Let me take a selfie
So, you’re on social media. You’re posting amazing stuff and high-quality content about your work. But, what about your beautiful face?
There have been studies that say when you show your face, engagement goes up. But we need to wade into the waters of gender here. I’m going to be making some blanket statements here, and yes they are problematic but read them as overarching trends, not as truisms.
Men designers are not that interested in posting their own face. Women designers, on the other hand, feel pressure to not only be great designers but also look as pretty as their incredible work. Male designers don’t necessarily have to justify their looks in order to do good work. Oh hey, double standards…
So keep that in mind, everyone, next time you post a selfie. What pressures are you reacting to? Do you need to post a selfie? Does it add or detract from your brand?
You, live at 10 am!
A year ago social media platforms introduced a new feature that sent people like me crawling into corners. Live.
Going live, talking live, interacting live. That’s not something I, your humble writer, am interested in doing. Like, at all.
Instagram Live is the first thing people. So, consider that in terms of visibility.
If you’re not comfortable going live, do explore Instagram Stories.
Instagram Stories provide a more human aspect to the work you do and gives the people you follow a more intimate understanding of you as a person.
Peter Voth is a great case study of Stories. He went from 1,000 followers to 20,000 in just one year. He always made sure the highlights in his Instagram were full. He was featured in other people’s posts on cross platforms. The reason? Solid, consistent work. Quality is key.
So the lesson here is this: if you’re afraid of going live, you’re welcome to join me in the corner over here. And we can post Stories which are much less pressure.
Yeah, so we’re about 1,152 words into this blog post (yes, I checked). That’s a lot.
I don’t know about you but I’m feeling burnt out just writing about all this.
So how do we throw some water on this social media fire?
If you’re feeling burnt out take a step back and ask yourself why. What could you do less of? What can you do more of? Can you plan out your posts 3 months in advance like Yao, or utilize the features like Patrick?
But the annoying reality is that the platforms aren’t really for you. They are there to make the corporations who run them money. They are trying to make more money and aren’t looking at the individual as closely as we’d like.
That perspective might help you re-negotiate how you interact on the platforms. Running ourselves on max capacity of output is only good for the companies, not for us.
Take a breather.
Controlling your narrative
Social media is all about your narrative. You decide what to show, what to promote, and what to share.
Think about building a community. What do I have to give versus what do I want? This isn’t about sell sell sell sell sell. It’s about value and contribution to a community as a whole.
It all goes back to your strategy. Stay consistent, stay true to your craft and brand, and stay focused.
You choose what you show. You choose the community you are wanting to build by strategically using hashtags, follows, and comments.
At the end of the day, social media is what you make of it.