I consider myself to be someone who is quite late to the party when it comes to Instagram. Although spending my entire career in digital, I was extremely prejudiced towards Instagram. Mostly because I started to see social media, as a whole, a very narcissistic and superficial phenomenon. Despite my love for small luxuries, I just didn’t and still don’t like the ‘Look at me I’m fabulous and I have fabulous things’ type of culture and the negative impact I have seen it have on people. We all know what social media can do to people, we’ve read and heard about it in the news. Cyber bullying, suicide, anxiety and depression are some of the darker aspects/risks of social media. However, there’s really no need to go that deep to see some of the not so positive elements of Instagram and social media; ie; being completely and utterly attached to our phones, living a life for the gram and never being able to truly stay present in the moment, buying the latest handbag because it will look amazing on Insta, knowing full well it will break our banks and relating our successes and failures to followers, likes, engagement and THE NUMBERS.
Don’t get me wrong, I get it. While I working at Farfetch, I would not even consider working with a fashion blogger if their numbers didn’t match the criteria of the campaign I was working on and even if they had the right numbers, but the wrong style or look, I still couldn’t work with them. I felt really angry about the industry I was working in and in turn, it made me resent social media.
I am so glad to say that I am no longer angry at social media anymore. In fact we’re friends now! I don’t know if it’s normal to think about social media as much as I do or if I think about it to the extent that I do, because it has always been completely intrinsic with my career. However, hating social media, no longer blogging or writing and having no creative outlet really made me a very one dimensional person and was almost making me obsolete in my career.
Now I’m back online…ironically mostly on Instagram, and I can honestly tell you, and never ever did I think I would say this out loud, but it has changed my life.
WHAT I LOVE ABOUT INSTAGRAM
The Mum Community on Instagram
In all honesty, when I started out on Instagram I had no idea what I was doing, I didn’t know if I wanted to be a fashion blogger, a motivational blogger, a writer or a mummy blogger. I couldn’t take pictures, my photography was completely and utterly awful and my camera was so old that the quality of photos were better on my iPhone than my camera. I considered getting a photographer, using stock images and all sorts. I was then concerned that I was too fat, my wardrobe not trendy enough, handbag collection too dated…blah blah fucking blah. Then I came across Gary Vaynerchuck and everything changed. Two pieces of advice from Gary Vee that have led me through this social media adventure is:
- Know yourself and your truth.
- Tell your story and document it.
By doing this I organically found the mum community on Instagram. A community that I fucking love. I know there’s a cynicism around Instagram and a belief that it’s all fake, none of it’s real. I may not be wise, but I am well versed enough to know a real connection, even if it’s in the digital realm. In that guise I have met some beautiful mamas on here that I really like, love their content and would love to meet someday, because I know we’d have a fucking amazing night out. No babies, just mamas out on the town. I have just found the community to be a lot less hostile than what I would have envisioned. In fact, completely to the contrary, for me it’s a place where I can really relate and connect to other mums and by doing so, offer and seek support and advice.
The Sense of Purpose Instagram Gives
The day before I put my first post on my Instagram Business Account I went to an Elle Magazine seminar that spoke on issues about women in the workplace and the direction of their careers after having children. After my own terrible experience with being pregnant in the workplace this really hammered home the fact that I certainly did not want to go back to a typical place of employment. I was on maternity leave, so was feeling pretty disconnected from the big wide world, but really inspired to do something. Instagram has become that something. Admittedly, I make zero pence from Instagram, but I use all the skills that I have and am most passionate about on a daily basis, which in a nutshell is writing and creating content. My account and my community have strangely become very dear to me… and I know it’s not that strange in the digital sense of things, because people put hundreds of thousands of pounds and hours into producing, marketing, building and growing Instagram accounts. However, it’s odd for me, someone who had never really used Instagram till five months ago.
Staying on the Digital Pulse
I have a fear of ageing mentally and when it comes to digital you can stay as young as you like, as long as you stay on top of digital culture. I wouldn’t go as far as to say I’m on top of it. But I am a part of it, I consume it and the days that Allegra is at nursery my world is essentially centred around it. Five months ago, I had no clue what Mum Crush Mondays were, or Sunday Shares and Follow Fridays, nor did I know what #WIDN was an acronym for. No absolute fucking clue. Now I do. That makes me feel young and cool and with it. And although some of my friends and a lot of my family have no clue what I am doing spending all this time online and if I saw myself through their eyes, I may indeed have a nervous breakdown, I take pleasure in knowing that producing content on Instagram and engaging with so many other likeminded users and mums in the community is so culturally relevant. Those that mock it, judge it and look down their noses at it are those that ARE NOT so culturally relevant (to put it in the nicest way possible).
Numbers vs Being Real
Instagram is a beast…it doesn’t sleep and there was a point when it was making me lose sleep in turn. Every time I’d post a story I would lose shit loads of followers – well, not shit loads, because I don’t have shit loads of followers. Nevertheless I lost followers and it bugged me. It frustrated me because I was convinced I was doing something wrong, doing things that weren’t quite ‘Instagram cool’ or people just didn’t like me. I would see other Instagrammers’ numbers growing, some maybe would remain the same but mine would literally plummet and ten followers could be lost in a day, just like that! I don’t know why and now I do really try not to think about it. It does made me question myself and I think that’s only normal, but that doesn’t mean I like it. If I was running an Instagram account for a company I would have to react to these numbers by changing my strategy to become more appealing on Instagram and of course I want to be appealing on Instagram, otherwise I would not have put myself on the platform in the first place! And I guess that’s true for most on the gram. However, what I sometimes find myself trying to decipher is, how much of it is real and how much of it is just to grow the numbers. How many people comment because they genuinely care or are interested in a particular post and how many just comment because it gives their account a bit of exposure? Am I overthinking these things? Does it even really matter why they comment or whether they care?
Time Consuming as a Mother
I spend an obscene amount of time on Instagram and to be honest, not quite as much as I would like to. The reason why I spend so much time on it is because I want my numbers to grow, because I know with numbers comes opportunities. Opportunities to collaborate with more content creators, create content on a bigger scale and ultimately just open up the doors to the unknown. Because what I am desperately trying to escape is what I already know. Having said that, is it right that I won’t answer my phone to talk to friends because I have set aside two hours to catch up with what’s going down on the gram and interact with people who in all honesty, I don’t even know. Is it OK that I jump on insta stories the second I get in the car with Christian instead of talking to him? Is it OK that the second Allegra goes to bed I pick up my phone and get on instagram, instead of enjoying a TV show with Christian before he passes out for the night. I know it’s all about balance, but is there balance in hard work?
Sometimes I Feel Like a Bad Instagram Friend
One thing I really take pride in as a person is being a good friend, a good communicator and always remaining present. I really do try and apply these same values to the connections I have made with my Instagram friends. There are so many Instagrammers that I won’t go a day without checking their stories, or their posts and always want to comment and share my thoughts on their content. I feel bad if I have been unable to do so…like I have been a bad friend! And can you believe that I actually worry about what might happen if I end up following and liking too many Instagrammers or have too many followers (not sure if that’ll ever happen) and am not able to interact with them all and I mean, beyond leaving an emoji in a comment. I know it’s impossible to interact with everyone if you have shit loads of followers, but there are Instagrammers out there that DO respond to all of their comments and I just wonder how they cope with managing and staying on top of all of that engagement and interaction. Is there an app for that?! I seriously do worry and feel pressure to make sure I comment, respond, post, interact and keep up with everyone.
Overall though, I truly believe that Instagram is what you make it and despite it’s negatives, there are some major pros. Although I say I’m late to the Instagram party, I definitely feel this has its benefits. My skin is a little tougher and my ability to not give a fuck is a little more well honed, which I hope means that I will always be able to take this Instagram and Social Media life in its stride. On the other hand, I have had nothing but really positive experiences in the Instagram mum community and feel like it’s a nice place to be, especially for us mums.