We all know that Instagram is one of the most beneficial marketing tools for small and large businesses alike. It allows us to share our work, genuinely engage with followers and potential customers, expand our client base to individuals outside of our city, state, and even country, and build brand recognition—all for free! Aside from being an amazing social media marketing tool, Instagram can also be extremely influential in other, not so amazing ways. For instance, it can play some hefty mind games with our self-esteem, ego and overall self-love, or lack there of.I want to talk about how we allow our self-worth to fluctuate in unison with our number of Instagram followers. Me! Right here! I am 100% guilty of letting my numbers determine my feelings of achievement, self-worth, self-love and sometimes even my level of happiness. I am guilty of letting this insignificant number determine if what I am doing with my life is worthwhile. Why? Because it’s so easy to gauge our successes based on a number, especially when it seems that everyone else’s numbers are a bajillion percent higher, or at least always on an upward climb. While yes, I am guilty of letting these things affect me, I have also begun to understand that there may be other factors at play here, suggesting that the numbers don’t always mean what we think they do.
It is hard to determine what makes someone follow you, and it’s even harder to determine what makes them unfollow you. Here is some advice—don’t try to understand the method behind the madness, because let me tell you, it will only end up driving you mad!Here’s what I do know—sometimes (most of the time) unfollows actually have nothing to do with you, or what you’re sharing.A lot of the time an unfollow is simply an “Instagram bot” that followed you based on a hashtag you used, time of day you posted, etc. only to get your business and then unfollows you when you either don’t engage, or once a certain number of days have passed. Another case of the unfollow is just other Instagramers who start following in hopes that you will follow them in return. They too, either unfollow after a certain number of days, or once they see you didn’t reciprocate the follow. In both cases, the unfollowing really has nothing to do with what you’re creating—it’s just people trying to get you to follow them in order to inorganically grow their own numbers.
Even though we know that a majority of unfollows occur by no fault of our own, it’s still pretty deflating to watch the numbers go down.When unfollows occur it can lead to questions like: What the heck did I do wrong? Did I say the wrong thing? Post the wrong thing? Is my content that awful, or are my pictures really just that ugly? This, this right here, these negatively driven questions fuel that negative self-image, which in turn, kills the crap out of any and all creativity we may have had in the first place, which again fuels that negative self-image. And the cycle repeats. This cycle then leads to overthinking the content we’re sharing vs. content we think we should be sharing, and nothing kills creativity faster than overthinking it. Instead of listening to our creative voice, we begin to question it. We begin to think that since what we’re creating isn’t getting the virtual response we imagined it would, then well, what’s the point? The point, my friends, is that you want to create it, whatever it might be. The point is that you’re creating and sharing something because it ignites and feeds your soul. The point is that you’re fostering a personal relationship with your creativity, and that relationship deserves to be nurtured. If you then so choose to share the outcome of this relationship with the Instagram world, just remember that what you’re sharing is ultimately for you, and doesn't need to be substantiated by anyone else. Once we begin to make this mental switch—that our creativity is our own and should not be dampened by the reactions of others, and that we should stop questioning the validity of what we’re creating—magic is bound to happen. Not going to lie, I have a hard time remembering these things, especially when the numbers are on a downward trend. However, I’m making a point to remind myself that what I’m creating is ultimately for my own benefit, that it makes me happy and content and full and that’s all that really matters in the end. Right?Because Instagram is cool and all, but it should never come between you, your creativity and your self-worth.
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