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Reading those words, did you start to sweat? Feel a little stressed maybe? Most people have a gut response to the subject. It can feel incredibly personal and also extremely disconnected. I have been actively using Instagram for about a year and a half, and although I am by no means an expert, I have learned a few lessons that have made the experience jump from frustrating to enjoyable and now, exciting.
When speaking with other creative entrepreneurs about their business goals, inevitably social media comes up. How much do we need to engage? How much does it matter? I hate it. I love it. It feeds my insecurities. It validates me.
These are things I have said myself and have heard from many others. I have made a list of 7 ideas about social media, and Instagram specifically. I’d also love to hear your take on how social media affects you. Do you feel uplifted after swiping through Instagram? Or does it feed deep-rooted insecurities and bring up the comparison game?
I hope by reading these 7 points, you can join me in winnowing through the negative so IG can be a fun place to hang. Which brings me to my first point…
1. Treat It Like A Party.
What kind of a party are you throwing? If it’s a personal, small group thing, talk about the kids, what’s for dinner and maybe certain events that have recently been impactful. If this party is meant just for good friends, most anything goes – these people know you and accept you. What a beautiful thing!
If it’s a business account, keep it true to your brand. It may not be the best forum for pictures of last night's dinner, but it’s a great place to show off your design process, what’s inspiring you and to connect with other like-minded people. Keep it light. Keep it fun. Sometimes things get serious, but try not to stay there. People come in and out and sometimes they say “hi” and sometimes they say nothing at all.
Visitors like seeing the “behind the scenes” sometimes, just as long as it doesn’t get too intimate. Remember, most people swooping in and out of this party do not know you personally.
2. If It's Not A Fun Party – Leave.
In my opinion, this is very important. If a social media outlet does not bring you joy, don’t put yourself through it. It’s not going to make you a better person if it only brings you down. It’s not going to help your business if it becomes a chore. People can tell when you’re not having fun at the party, and they won’t want to be there either.
For me, I don’t find Facebook enjoyable. My newsfeed is a slideshow of people I no longer keep in touch with and babies I will never meet. Because of this, I rarely update my Suzy Quilts Facebook page, and when I do, it’s usually just a regurgitation of whatever I put on Instagram.
IG, on the other hand, is a TON-O-FUN! I am constantly inspired, love finding new accounts and although geographically I don’t have a quilting community, virtually I feel rich with creative, encouraging, like-minded people.
3. There's Enough Room.
This is something I tell myself a lot. As much as I love Instagram for its unique ability to connect me with thousands of other artists, it can also be overwhelming.
How many times has this thought gone through your head, “Wow…they are so good. I really suck compared to them.”?
AHHHH! What a terribly destructive, yet human response. WE ALL THINK THAT SOMETIMES. But. It’s not true. It’s 100% completely and absolutely false, and the less we allow ourselves to negatively spiral, the better.
So try this. Next time you see something that is really amazing, maybe it’s something that you do yourself and this other person is doing it very, very well, tell yourself this, “There’s enough room. There’s enough room for them and there’s enough room for me. Their awesomeness does NOT EQUAL my lack of awesomeness!”
And, maybe the things they are creating will inspire you to be a better artist yourself. I am not saying they will inspire you to copy them or BE like them, just be a better version of you.
Am I getting too cheesy? Sometimes I can’t help it because these simple words have saved me from numerous downward spirals. So, if you ever hear that mean little voice in your head telling you that someone else’s success equals your failure, please just try whispering back, “there’s enough room.” Maybe it will quiet the voice for a little bit.
4. Likes Are Free.
Don’t be stingy! There’s no need. Likes are free and they make people feel encouraged. How many times have you posted something and then spent the next hour spastically checking its status? Hmmm? Now be honest. I think it’s safe to say that we wouldn’t post stuff to IG if we didn’t want people to “like” it. Right? So pay it forward and share the like ;)
5. Keep It Positive.
You could say that “keep it positive” is my social media mantra, but specifically I wanted to say that an encouraging comment can really go a long way. It’s definitely not reasonable to think that you can comment on every picture that pops up in your feed. But, if there is something you see that makes you think, “daaaaamn!” Comment! Tell them!
We are all starving for affirmation, even the people you think get enough of it. I’m definitely not at a loss when it comes to verbalizing feeeeelings, I could write a whole post about this, but I’ll spare you and leave with this one thought – every time you hop on Instagram, see if you can leave it a better place than when you arrived. Keep it positive.
6. Open Yourself Up To Making Friends.
This may come more naturally to some than others. For me, the idea of making friends on the Internet was extremely weird, slightly desperate and beyond my comprehension. I chalk it off to a generational thing. I was born in ’85 and clearly remember a time before the Internet.
In Jr. High I dabbled in chat rooms…which very quickly got creepy. At 14 I concluded that the World Wide Web was a place for pervs, old men posing as young girls and kids my age over-sharing about things I did NOT want to hear about. Real life, therefore, was the only place to meet genuine friends. In college Facebook made its debut and I saw the Internet as another venue for connecting with my real-life friends.
I lived in this state of mind until, well, honestly, until about 6 months ago when the IG quilting community started reaching out to me in kind, unobtrusive ways. “Beautiful quilt, Suzy!” “Who designed that fabric? I love it!” or “You’re in Chicago? Have you checked out this fabric store?” There was nothing creepy or strange about any of it, and slowly my assumptions of the Internet began to crumble.
I started trying to give back some of the encouragement that I was receiving and the most beautiful thing occurred – by golly I made friends! No, not braid each other’s hair and share deep dark secrets friends, but like-minded people who are passionately creative, giving me support and building me up when I'm feeling vulnerable. Some people are so good at this and I hope to keep getting better and better.
Hashtags are a great way to connect with like-minded people. There are no hard and fast rules when it comes to how many hashtags to use or not use. I once read that any more than 3 looks cluttered…but then I said screw that and now I use at least 9 on every post.
If you want to connect with quilters try these hashtags: #quilt #quilts #quilting #modernquilts #modernquilting #patchwork #modernpatchwork #sewing #modernsewing
Change up your hashtags based on who you want to connect with. I have started adding #textiles #textiledesign because the other artists using those hashtags are so inspiring and I reap so much creative juice from them.
I’d love to hear about your experiences with social media, the online quilting community or any thoughts and tips you’d like to share!