It can be hard to find your voice in such a noisy world and anyone who has anything to say, can and will say it. With so much 'chatter' it seems like the only way to break through anonymity is to build a social media following as quickly and aggressively as possible. While this may be true, it doesn't apply across the board.
When I decided to dive into social media in 2016 I began to study what it would take to build my following (Specifically on Instagram). After watching YouTube videos and studying what others had done I started to employ several strategies in hopes getting the followers rolling in.
After two years I amassed a little over 960 followers. I'm not sure how many I wanted or what was even a good number but I didn't feel I had enough or that I ever would. While all of this was happening I had a great first year and an even better second year. I booked 27 weddings and connected with AMAZING people. So why was I feeling behind? The only answer I really have is that I bought into the idea that if you're not growing on social media that you're invisible.
In October of this year I decided to make a stronger push on the gram and went from posting 4 times a week (at best) to at least 3 times daily while on some days posting as many as 5 times. In about a month I gained close to 100 new followers and attracted a TON of engagement. All that being said I still felt stuck. I had finally made it to over 1,000 followers but no REAL connection was being made and I didn't feel any closer to success at any level. That was when I knew I needed to step back.
Everyday I was constantly checking my watch to make sure it was the right time to post and if I posted too late I'd feel bad. I spent hours researching and choosing what I thought to be the best hashtags only to change them a few days later. I would follow people then unfollow them. I would like 20 posts/pages a day and then like their followers posts. I would make completely superficial comments on images whether I really liked them or not. It was all just a big joke and felt like pointless, 'empty' connection more than anything.
Although I was using social media, I wasn't actually being social. To quote Seth Godin in an interview I saw recently, "Just because you can type to people and they type back, that doesn't mean you connected to them." Those words couldn't be more accurate.
Moving forward, I'm taking a huge step back. No more posting every single day religiously. No more correlating my Instagram growth with actual growth. No more worrying that I'm not doing enough, posting enough or liking enough posts. I'm putting all of my effort into creating a genuine connection with couples, other photographers and creatives and focusing on the fact that a great relationship with 20 people is more meaningful and important than gaining droves of followers who have never met me and probably don't really care.
If you're feeling the way I feel then I encourage you to examine whether social media is serving you or just distracting you from doing your most meaningful work. If it's the latter, make the necessary changes that will help you prioritize what matters most. You'll be glad you did.
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