I made the mistake of falling in love.
I’d been a casual user for a long time, but over the last year my infrequent dabblings have turned into true love. The squares with their beautiful imagery, the captivating captions, discovering compelling accounts through hashtags, getting to know people through Stories and DMs … I was hooked.
I mean, it’s a great platform for people like me who appreciate beauty and art, and who have become jaded by the likes of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
And as someone who likes to work with businesses who have unique perspectives on their work and the world, Instagram is a great place for making business connections.
However, my love of Instagram had clouded my judgement, and it was coming to back to bite me.
I’d spent a disproportionate amount of time on Instagram under the guise of “but it’s for work”. Time I could’ve spent on creating content for my site, or updating my neglected Facebook page. It felt like I was doing stuff, scrolling, liking, commenting, chatting to people: but was I engaging in the right sort of activities to grow my business?
I never would’ve stopped to ask myself this question if it hadn’t been that disaster was about to strike. Shortly before Valentine’s Day, Instagram dumped me.
It came out of nowhere: one unremarkable Wednesday afternoon, my app started crashing. It was annoying, but I remained calm. There must be a good reason for this and soon everything will be back to normal.
But, dear reader, things never did return to normal. No amount of Googling, trawling of forums or even contacting Instagram on numerous platforms resolved the issue. Bizarrely, the problem was my actual account: I could use clients’ accounts fine on the app, but as soon as I switched to my account, it all crashed. Even when I logged into my account on on my husband’s phone it crashed his app. I could use it on my laptop but without DM and Stories uploading functionality, but who wants that?
So after about a week, I decided to bid farewell to my account. I logged into in on my laptop and asked my 400 followers to come and follow me on my new account. About a quarter did, and I now have a new Instagram.
Marketing eggs in a basket
All this reminded me of a crucial bit of marketing advice: don’t put all your eggs in one basket, particularly if you don’t own the basket outright.
What this means is that you need to look at your marketing holistically. So many small businesses and charities don’t really have a marketing strategy; they simply have a Facebook plan, for example. But what happens if tomorrow there’s a massive security breach and everyone decides to leave Facebook? Or if Zuckerberg and pals decide to charge businesses for Facebook pages? Or if you get locked out of your account and can’t get back in?
One of the exercises I always do with coaching clients and in my content workshops is a platform analysis. We start by listing all the platforms on which you have a presence, and then being very honest about your reasons for being on them, your objectives for each and - crucially - how much time you can realistically dedicate to having a consistent presence on each platform and building an engaged audience.
Part of this platform analysis also needs to consider your strategic long-term objectives. Does it make more sense to spend 20 minutes answering a question on Facebook which few people will see after a few days, or to spend a couple of hours on a compelling website page that answers the same question, can be linked to and will attract readers on a continuous basis? Remember, you can always link to your landing pages from Facebook, and once people are on your website, you can take them on a journey to where you want them to ultimately be.
So let my Instagram woes be a lesson to you, and an inspiration to go and rethink the platforms you use for marketing. Spread your eggs across as many baskets as you can manage well, and put your most lucrative eggs in the baskets you own and have most control over.
I think I’ve probably laboured that metaphor enough now, but I hope you get the idea! And I hope you’ll come and chat to me on the new account!