You Can’t Build a Brand on Instagram: Stop Wasting Your Time & Start Growing a Business

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Let’s talk about how much time you devote to your social media accounts versus your blog. Some of the major influencer leaders and brands have all been extremely focused on Instagram feeds and promotions related to social media only. It’s quick, easy, and has a huge user base, so why not right? The problem is, so many people are racking their brains trying to grow their brand on Instagram that they’ve completely forgotten (or never even started) an actual blog.

One of the biggest complaints that have been plaguing the blogger/influencer community on Instagram is the fact that IG has changed their model so much that organic reach is severely stunted. Honestly, ask yourself how much time you’re spending on your social media management. Most likely, the bulk of it is on Instagram.

The more time you spend on that, the less time you’re putting into your writing and promotion of long form content. What’s the problem with that? You’re sacrificing your entire business. Specifically, I want to address how you should be using social media and Instagram in your blogging career and my experiences with building up a social media presence in conjunction with growing my blog.

Building Your Brand, Not Just Growing an Audience for Instagram’s Business

I want you to be successful in building your brand. That means doing things efficiently enough, so it feels like you’re making progress, not just doing routine tasks that seem to be going nowhere. I can almost guarantee most of you have felt like Wile-E-Coyote, spinning your legs in place. By the time you notice you’re on a roll, you hit a brick wall. Over and over again. It’s frustrating, I know.

The biggest trend I’ve noticed over the course of blogging (I’m going way back to ’07..omg has it been ten years since bloggers started scoping out the internets and building empires??) is that social media networks popped up at the rate of an unfortunate teen’s zits.

We were used to forums, chat rooms, and communities like LiveJournal, but then MySpace crushed it and created scene queens. Then Facebook popped up. And like a bad chain reaction, a bazillion (unofficial number) networks suddenly showed up to the party.

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And what do you do when all these networks pop up, and people are hyping them up? You join them!

Before you know it, you’ve joined all the social networks with absolutely no brand growth strategy. Then you find that a handful of platforms exploded, so you focus all your energy on those in hopes of making it big. That’s where you took the wrong turn. You tried to be a scene queen in a marketer’s world.

It’s the ultimate case of fear of missing out. You want to use every platform possible as early as possible, so you get the followers/recognition. Unfortunately, that doesn’t leave you much time to do anything but update your social media platforms.

What People Want

Authenticity. Plain and simple. That’s what all audiences have always craved. Remember when Instagram first started out? It was all about authenticity. You couldn’t upload photos- you had to take them with your phone on the spot. Then people developed workarounds. Eventually, almost everyone has jumped on the bandwagon of uploading DSLR photos.

While the audience has gotten used to seeing cute, staged photos (personally, I use my Instagram feed as a photo gallery- I love curating pretty images for your guys!), they’ve also started looking at other platforms to find the “real” you.

I accept the fact that Instagram is not as powerful of a connection platform as it used to be, which is why I started doing videos. They’re a lot harder and more time consuming to put together, but I want you guys to know me and my personality. I also do live videos a lot more now, such as my series on PocketLIVE. That’s completely unscripted, and I interact with commenters on the live feed the entire hour.

An audience will always look to find the real you, and that’s what you should focus on. You need always to be genuine and authentic, and sometimes, the platforms we use hinder that authenticity rather than help it.

How You Should Use Social Media

This leads me to my next point: you need to know how each social media platform aids or hurts your brand.

Ask yourself where your ideal audience spends their time.  Just because you like curating your Instagram feed doesn’t mean that’s the best place to focus your energy! Your ideal audience might be on Snapchat or Youtube!

As fashion bloggers, we’re often told that our craft is extremely visual so we should focus on the visual platforms. That goes double-fold for me since I focus a lot on self-portrait and travel photography (you’ll notice my Instagram feed is my curated portfolio of works). However, that doesn’t mean that’s where my loyal audience will be hanging out. I think I get plenty of admirers of my work on Instagram, but I found that people who land on my blog interact with me a lot more!

My theory is that it’s because that’s where you hear my voice clearest. While you can enjoy my photos on Instagram, you’re able to listen to what I’m saying here on the blog. That’s why I chose to start doing videos where I talk to the camera more. I want to make sure you hear my voice and can connect to my thoughts.

Even if the platform doesn’t seem like it’s for you, I would encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and keep trying. I know videos aren’t my cup of tea, but I’m not giving up anytime soon. I found that the more I do them, the easier they get. Even if the platform where your audience hangs out fails, you’ll still have the skills you built up on it to carry over to the next hot platform! Especially since you now know that’s where your ideal audience spends their time (and where they look for your content).

Where Should You Spend Your Energy Going Forward?

Whether you like it or not, it’s video. You’ve probably heard this many times by this point and that’s because it’s true. Most social media networks you’re using right now have some sort of video option. There’s a lot more emphasis on live video in particular. Find what works for you! There’s a lot of trial and error in everything, but you can’t actually move forward with your growth until you do it.

Instagram stories and Snapchat are actually really good starting points to video work. You’ll get more comfortable in front of the camera. Whatever you do, DON’T post perfectly staged photos and snaps on your stories. I see more people doing that and it utterly defeats the purpose of authentic connection!

Once you’ve comfortably tackled snaps and insta-stories, move on to trying out live video! It’s a lot less hassle than editing videos from your camera reel, and it allows you to engage with your audience quickly. You can have a little show basis for yourself.

For example, I do makeup on Thursdays at 4PM EST on PocketLIVE. I test out new makeup trends and interact with my audience for an hour without any scripts or edits. You can have a weekly live “coffee” date where you take your audience to your favorite coffee spots in your home city. Or you can do a weekly outfit selection session with your audience! Be creative!

And What Happens To The Other Platforms?

Nothing. Let them hang out and do their thing. You might want to post there once in a while, but there’s absolutely no reason for you to focus equal energy on everything (or even close to equal). Most people probably won’t notice you not being active on Twitter.

Your point should always be to engage and connect with your peeps. If you’re just posting promos for yourself on all social media platforms, you’re not really building deep bonds. Social media platforms aren’t necessarily drivers of traffic to your business.

They’re tools for you to connect with your current visitors and maybe down the line, the people you’ve interacted with on social media will also start frequenting your blog!

That leads me to round back to my original point: you can’t build a brand on Instagram!! You can strengthen your bonds with your audience on Instagram, but Instagram is a whole other business! Same goes for any other social media channel. You need to have your own independent business, and then use social media channels to expand your reach.

So next time someone says blogs are pointless and asks why you don’t just become an IG micro-blogger, you should remind them of Myspace. Whatever happened to Cory Kennedy? (Who, according to Wiki, “is a former American Internet celebrity.”)