5 Ways to Change Your Relationship with Instagram
Let's talk about your relationship with Instagram.
Let me guess…
Part of you loves the app – I mean, the beautiful content, the friends' photos and the amazing community it provides is unbeatable.
But then there's another part of you that feels a little less positive and a little more frustrated, especially if you're a digital influencer or use Instagram for your business.
Trust me, I've been there.
Last August, I found myself drowning in a really burnt-out pool of negativity. I'd spent the past couple years excited about every single part of my work and suddenly, I couldn't get motivated to do anything. And I really do mean anything. I didn't want to shoot photos, I didn't want to answer emails and I didn't want to be anywhere near social media.
When I started analyzing why this was happening, I realized that this frustration and this burned-out feeling is something that built up over time and finally just bubbled (or more like exploded) over.
And a lot of it had to do with Instagram. The truth was that my relationship to Instagram was completely and totally unhealthy.
I spent hours a day scrolling and watching others' Stories. I spent far too much time analyzing my likes and Story views. I based my engagement rate on my value as a person & a creator and wondered if I should just quit because less and less people every day were seeing my content.
I decided to take a break from Instagram completely to both hit the “reset” button and also to figure out how I could make Instagram a positive place for me.
Four weeks later, I had put together a list of things I would start doing (and not doing) in regard to Instagram. And listen – my mindset, my mental health, my business and my productivity have changed MASSIVELY since putting these into place.
If you're someone who struggles with your relationship to the ‘gram, listen up:
Essentially, the 90/10 ratio is spending only 10% of your time consuming others' content and the other 90% creating – working hard on your own business, blog & photos and personal growth.
During the 10% consume time, be very conscious of WHAT you are consuming. Does it further your knowledge? Does it make you a better person? Does it make you happy? Does it inspire you? Does it put you in a positive headspace? If it's a “yes,” PERFECT! Consume away.
On the other hand, if what you're consuming puts you in any kind of negative headspace, don't consume it. It will only distract from and hurt the time you spend creating.
Focus on your value, not your numbers
I know it is much easier said than done, but stop hyper-focusing on your numbers.
Followers and engagement rate are important for determining how much to charge a brand, but that's about as far as it goes.
Other than that, it's pointless to concentrate on numbers for a few reasons:
First, it takes away from what you should be focusing on and emphasizing: VALUE. A question you should ask yourself every day is, “What value am I bringing to the lives of those who follow me?” “How can I do better?” “What does my audience want to see and hear from me?” Focus on that.
Second, let me let you in on a little secret… your Instagram followers and engagement rate have nothing to do with your income. I know someone with less than 10k followers that makes 5x the income of someone with 300,000 followers – because they're smart about how they run their business and smart about how they work with brands. Number of Instagram followers, likes and Story views do not and will never be directly correlated to income.
Thirdly, it's just. not. healthy. at. ALL. Remember when I mentioned earlier in this blog post that during my emotional slump I questioned my own talents as a creator? That's the problem with focusing on numbers – you begin to base your self-worth on digits that to a certain extent, most of the time, you can't control. It is perfectly normal and healthy to want to grow on Instagram, but when you find yourself obsessed (i.e. can't stop thinking about, causing you to be in a bad mood, etc.) on how many likes you're getting, how many followers you're gaining, it's time to take a step back and remember why you want to be on the app in the first place.
Change when and how much you're on the app
One of my favorite recent updates to the Instagram app and the iOS 12 software is that you can now see how much time you're spending on the Instagram app.
Go check your daily time spent right now. Kind of alarming, right?
The first thing you should do is to start setting limits for yourself (here's an article on how to do that).
And secondly – don't use Instagram right after you wake up or right before going to bed. If you use the app right when you wake up, you've started your day on a negative note – scrolling through others' posts, watching other people's lives. Mornings should be about YOU time and so should the evenings.
Put your eggs in other baskets
If you're a blogger/digital influencer and Instagram is the only platform you put notable effort into, I will very bluntly tell you that you're doing it wrong. Focus energy into growing other social platforms, like YouTube, and make your blog more of a priority by writing more and growing your traffic. Grow that email list.
By having multiple platforms that your audience is on, your reliance on Instagram won't be as heavy and therefore you won't put quite as much stock into it all! What if Instagram disappeared tomorrow? Relationship to Instagram aside, focusing on your blog and email list is also a great idea because you own both of those things, while you do not own Instagram.
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Curate what you see
Instagram should be an app that you open and feel happy to be viewing others' content. It should not ever be a place where you feel jealousy, negativity or other crappy emotions from viewing others' posts.
Here is your permission to UNFOLLOW anyone who does not bring joy, value or inspiration to your feed. Really, unfollow! And if that person would be angry or confused (or there's another reason you can't just unfollow them), hide their posts & Stories. When I went through my Instagram detox last August, I unfollowed over 400 (yes, 400!) accounts that I thought were contributing to my unhappiness and let me tell you – it has made a WORLD of difference. And it will do the same for you too, promise.
Tell me in the comments about your relationship to Instagram! Are there things you've done to make the app a more positive place?