The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly
Instagram by far is the most trending social media platform. Regardless of endless complaints about the algorithm; everyone keeps scrolling for more. What is the first thing you check on your phone when you wake up? What is the last thing you look at before you go to bed? Well, for me at least it is the infamous app. With a respectable following standing at -almost- 33k, being regarded as an influencer has been a bumpy road. Within the short two year time period, I had learned how rewarding and how cut throat this adventure can be. Carry on to read the good, the bad, and the ugly parts of my experience.
I have grown significantly more self-confident.
As someone who had proudly identified herself as an introvert; I have learned how to carry myself better within a large group of people. You know those people who can just grab the attention of others, direct the conversation, leave some in awe for the vibrancy of their character? That is not necessarily a gift of nature. Initially by being exposed to a sizable audience, later through attending various influencer events I have learned how not to hide behind silence in a group setting. In the very first influencer dinner I had attended, the very first person I've met has become a good friend. That is Diego from @dandyinthebronx. Since then I had the opportunity to meet amazing people who are dedicated to their niche and their creative side. When in a setting with such great creatives, one learns to be more self-confident in order to even just say hi.
Image by @hanakurihara
I pushed the perimeter of my comfort zone.
I don't think people get outside their comfort zones really, they just learn how to stretch the perimeter and learn to be comfortable with what was once deemed the opposite. As mentioned above, when compared to such creative people, I've learned how to get comfortable with the uncomfortable. Did I believe I could showcase the city and inspire people to plan something they wouldn't have otherwise? Nope. Did I think I could bring the best of what this city has to offer to their screens? Hell no. Am I comfortable doing just that now? Damn right I am. Maybe it's time to expand to more cities and showcase more places.
Image by @hanakurihara
I identify as a business woman.
Two years ago, I was an employee at a job that I love. Today, I still have that job as an in progress architect. Yet, today I also have my own side hustle that I see and shape as a business. When it comes to defending my work, charging for my work, marketing my work I am a business woman managing not just an account but a brand. So, it takes time to learn how to tackle saying no to other business' who want presence on my page for free. Don't get me wrong, I do not do this for money but for the time that it takes to cultivate an audience and create a brand, financial benefits do sound good. My sponsored posts are far in between. That is because I say no often. I've learned that in the end keeping true to the authenticity of the brand and showing up for the audience is far more important than making a quick buck from a sponsored post.
I have dedicated myself to learning
A lot of the things I've learned about social media has come from constant research. As my account grows, I grow as a person through reading more, analyzing and testing more. Through business and marketing podcasts I have been nourishing my skills. My library now has an added section for self improvement and marketing books. I have a secret Pinterest board for all things blogging and entrepreneurship. I've learned that one can never cease to learn especially in today's day and age where things are changing so rapidly.
I do not like going to a place that is not instagrammable.
Yup. Everytime I eat out is an opportunity for a post. So needless to say I do not like - and sometimes straight out refuse- to eat out especially during the day if I cannot take photos. Somewhat shameful but then again I have limited free time to go out and take photos so I can post throughout the week. I rather not spend it on a non instagrammable space. On the brighter side, I do not care where we go if it's already dark outside. To build on that point; my weekends mostly revolve around instagram. I plan places to go and things to do according to their post value.
I am attached to my phone
Seriously. It can be constant refreshing, saving posts or reading something. I am attached to my phone. Some of it is research but how can one differentiate it from addiction when it becomes the third limb? No screen time does not come easy. Neither does putting my phone away during dinner. Yes, it is a social ettiquette to do so yet I do glance at my notifications more often than not.
Image by @hanakurihara
Your worth is your number.
That is either the engagement rate or the following count. Or a combination of the two. With a larger following, the respect one receives increases. People are generally nice, but they are nicer depending on where you land on the spectrum of following count. This is true for some influencers but I think that speaks to their personality rather than influencers as a group. Brands on the other hand is a different issue. Let me insert a disclaimer here; they are not necessarily rude it just means that your numbers are not high enough for them to work with you. Everyone runs a business here and everyone is looking out for their own interest. That is the ugly truth. For me to be able to work with brands, get invited to events my creativity in and of itself is not enough. I have to have the numbers to support it. That's why it is so cut throat when it comes to increasing your numbers. Read along I will come to that section in a little bit.
Self-doubt is inevitable.
I know I said I have grown to be more self confident; but honestly the two are not mutually exclusive. My explore page is flooded with gorgeous girls in bikinis in exotic places. I feel inadequate all the damn time. The more I am in front of the camera, the better I can connect with people who have been following me. Yet, I feel like I don't look good enough for my feed more often than you might think. If I were skinnier, and wore something better, and knew how to pose better, etc. etc. Yes everyone is beautiful as they are and I am grateful to those who have been fighting to change beauty standards but when it comes to seeing myself in that light; I fall short.
Don't believe in everything you see on your feed.
I think there are two parts to this section. One is when it comes to the imagery, the second to numbers. In terms of photos, one can make it as real or as fake as the creator wants to. I've always geared towards the authentic and transparent side aka no photoshoping, no face tuning etc. Yet, it would be a lie to say that I didn't feel discouraged when seeing picture perfect images. The truth is, it's hard to differentiate what is real and what is manipulated so at the end our reality is skewed. Just read about Carolyn Stritch's aka @theslowtraveler, experiment about faking a trip to Disneyland here. How can one keep true when truth is a moving target in the audience's mind?
Image by @hanakurihara
Creativity takes the second place.
To numbers that is. Do you see accounts that have crazy following without a feed that justify it? Seems like being an influencer is the new it thing and skills required to be one is disregarded through utilizing growth strategies. Creating striking and engaging content is the key; yet there are a lot of accounts out there that manage to build their following without really paying attention to content. Honestly, it frustrates the living shit out of me. Don't get me wrong, I am not trying to paint myself as a saint here, I have utilized growth strategies myself. One must to stand out, otherwise posting a photo is like shouting in the dark. I believe there are two groups here; one are the ones that truly pay attention to their audience, care about generating value and support their posts with growth strategies and those that solely depend on strategies just to grow. I think the second group of people give the first a bad reputation. No longer we are striving for creativity but end up playing the numbers game when defending our work.
Image by @riyanadelrey