Beat the algorithm!
Support your community!
Build your numbers!
These are all reasons I told myself that I needed to be involved with Instagram pods. And not just one, but at one point – I was in six Instagram pods. I responded with a minimum of four words, I’d check for new posts every hour or two, I’d jump with glee with some of my photos would hit over 300 “likes” and that always lead to me spending even more time on Instagram.
It basically was a vicious, vicious cycle
… and I’d go so far as to say an addiction.
When I decided this summer to stop feeling guilty about working while my kids were home, that Oprah A-Ha Moment also came with some decisions – and one of them is spending less time on social media. Specifically? Less time on Instagram.
Even though we do get inquiries from Instagram, and have booked things as a result … I realized, taking a look at WHO was commenting, WHO was liking the photos … it’s mostly other photographers. Or it’s business owners that I know I’ll never work with – like baby outfit designers in Canada or people slinging Lularoe (which you’ll likely never see me wearing). And on top of that, I’d get comments that were clearly copied and pasted on every person’s photo in the pod (like “this is so beautiful!” on a post of me in a golf cart. Like – what? No. You didn’t even READ the caption!).
It all just felt … fake.
Because it was fake.
Instagram Pods Were Hurting Our Business
The reason we have an Instagram is to showcase our lives, let others in to our world, to get to know us – why we do what we do, our hopes and dreams, our fears and accomplishments. It’s to showcase our work, and tell our couples’ stories. I want to speak directly to potential brides and grooms looking for their wedding photographer or getting inspiration for their own wedding.
And by spending time talking to the wrong people, I’ve been hurting our business. And not just that, but I’ve been hurting myself because I’ve been so preoccupied with numbers and supporting the community that sometimes I forget at the end of the day, Instagram is not where a majority of our leads come in. Instagram is not where our total marketing strategy lives.
Instagram, while beautiful and curated, is only a piece of the puzzle and not the big picture.
So, I stepped out of all the pods a couple of weeks ago.
At first, I felt sad. I wondered if I made the wrong choice. I saw my engagement drop dramatically – there are some photos on Instagram that aren’t even hitting a hundred likes and comments anymore. I really reconsidered going back into pods because if I don’t have several hundred likes and comments, that must mean I totally suck. Literally had that thought go through my head at least 50 times during the first week post-pod life.
But then, even without me being part of pods anymore … the inquiries from Instagram didn’t stop (in fact, they’ve increased over the last couple of weeks). The number of people watching my daily shenanigans on Stories didn’t drop (it also increased). My average number of DMs didn’t drop (they’ve increased, too).
Basically – I cut the gristle from the prime meat. My AUTHENTIC followers are still there, my tribe is still slowly building with people who actually are interested in ME, our FAMILY, our shenanigans, our couples, our artistry, and what I have to say. I stopped getting bullshit “this is so, so, so adorable” and “wow this is amazing” and other types of fake comments from people literally just put to boost their own feed (because I felt obligated to comment back on theirs by being in pods). I stopped getting likes from people who genuinely don’t like what I’m posting, they just felt obligated to like it because I was part of a like chain on Facebook or a pod.
And once I stopped seeing the bullshit on my posts, I decided I wanted to stop seeing it in my feed. I’ve started to stop following people who don’t inspire me or drive me to a better person, or sling products I have zero interest in. I used to be part of those “Like Me Chains” on Facebook, where you’d have to go and follow every person in the chain. Which was nice to see numbers grow, but, it was fake. It wasn’t people who were genuinely interested in me or in Randy, it was people out for themselves. I was totally part of that craze, but now – I really just want nothing to do with anything disingenuous or not bringing me true joy in my life.
My marketing strategy is focused on being real and honest, and I’d rather have a small group of people genuinely interested in support us, our family, our dream and our passion.than countless followers who I’ll never have the opportunity to hug in real life, or work with or get referrals from.
But you know what the BEST part of this decision has been?
I realized I was spending upwards of 2-3 HOURS a DAY on Instagram and Facebook. It was in short spurts – 30 minutes here, 10 minutes there, etc. It added up, and it added up QUICKLY. And now? I have those precious hours back. I don’t feel stressed to be constantly checking in, I don’t have to carve time out of my day to participate in fake games to beat the algorithm. I was so stressed from lack of time in my life, that I was grinding my teeth and I caused a hairline crack in one of my teeth from the stress.
Basically, I wasn’t acting like a CEO. I was acting like a starving-for-growth newbie and that’s NOT where I’m at in our business. We are so booked for 2017 that we’re turning clients away. We’re halfway booked for 2018 already, and booking into 2019. I don’t need to be killing myself working 18 hour days or breaking my teeth for likes and comments on Instagram or Facebook.
So now? I’m using those hours selfishly – working out, catching up on Netflix, reading up on Buddhism and practicing my meditation, taking bubble baths, getting massages, calling my mom or my best friends just to talk. Everything I told myself I didn’t have the time to do because I had too much “work” to do … suddenly, I find myself with actual FREE TIME during my days, even during the busiest wedding season of our career.
And I’m totally cool with that.