“Instagram stresses me out!” Many conversations about Instagram revolve around what to post, when to post, and how to post. Conversations don’t focus on business metrics. Instead, we’re obsessive about engagement, appearance, and public approval. These factors contribute to feelings of stress, insecurity, and more.
The stress is made worse by the cognitive dissonance we experience when using Instagram. Cognitive dissonance is when a person holds contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values. When using Instagram there are two common beliefs we apply:
- Instagram is a personal reflection of individuals, their business, and their success.
- Instagram is a marketing platform for business purposes to build an audience and promote a product, service, or brand.
Stress occurs when we blur the lines. We put on a facade to gain the acceptance of others measured in engagement.
What makes it worse is we know subconsciously know others put on this facade too, but accept their stories at face value. We compare their stage life with our behind the scenes.
Stage Life vs BTS
We assume the “story” others are sharing is an accurate all-encompassing reflection of them. As a result, we view others as more successful and put-together. This creates false expectations for them and us.
We’re disappointed when we see behind the curtain or they have a “glitch” (non-perfect moment) in their story. Many times we don’t know how to account for this disconnect between what we know and what we see online. We feel betrayed because we bought into this faux persona and relationship. If we lack empathy and maturity, we resort to gossiping and snarky comments.
Instagram is a marketing platform. Images and stories are curated to reflect the best version of a person or brand in an effort to gain followers, engagement, and sales. Consciously separate the person you know from the story they tell. People’s lives are way more complicated and nuanced than they share publicly. Acknowledge the story for what it is, complete your due diligence if you decide to work with them, and if they are a friend love them for who they are.
The Balancing Act
The balancing act is dictated by our motives. Are we posting to impress or serve? Many times our decisions are driven by how we think others will view us. You can say you don’t care, but we all seek validation in some form. Engagement via likes, comments, shares is validation. It affirms we’re seen and heard.
This creates a dilemma on what to post. Some in an effort to be “authentic” will overshare via emotional dumping or staged chaos. Others will under share. Under sharing doesn’t help because in order for people to connect with you, we need to be visible.
Oversharing your weaknesses and flaws diminishes your perceived value as a business and brand. Especially when your customers are paying for you to be knowledgeable and experienced. There is a difference between sharing a lesson your business learned (improved customer service) versus sharing insecurities. Your insecurity might create a connection, but will they hire the nervous photographer or the confident photographer?
Some individuals in an attempt to be authentic will use derogatory language or profanity. Authenticity is not defined by the language you use, but whether your actions match your words. Using profanity is a cheap marketing tactic for attention. It may seem acceptable or trending but your customers will grow out of it. It has a negative impact on the respect customers have for you. You are better. Do you want to be with them growing or be left behind?
Customers trust companies that they feel understand them. They respect companies that they believe respect them in return. And the results of that reciprocity are evident in the CQ data and the bottom line.Harvard business review
Customers want to know you respect and value them. They want to be inspired, educated, and uplifted.
Before you post, ask yourself these questions:
- Am I sharing to impress others or to provide value?
- Will this provide a lesson to help achieve something?
- Will this provide encouragement to find a solution?
- Am I sharing digital clutter (posting just to post) or will this encourage someone to do something positive?
- Is this an accurate reflection of my brand?
- Does this align with my company values?
Maintain some mystery and allure. Disney would not be as magical if you saw everything that happened behind the scenes. The same goes for your business. Keep something for people to anticipate and look forward to.
Do you want your brand to be one that settles for joining the crowd? Or do you want to lead by example and raise the bar?
It’s Just a Tool
We place too much importance on Instagram. At the end of the day, Instagram is just a tool in our marketing toolbox. It allows us to connect with people, share stories, be inspired, and entertained.
Evaluate your relationship with Instagram. What value does it add to your brand? Are you putting more time and effort into it than you are getting value in return? Instagram is a business so they will favor users who help them generate income (ads) and attention (content). Are you using it because you feel obligated to have a presence?
If you want to use Instagram, what boundaries do you need to put in place? What strengths and weaknesses do you need to acknowledge about content creation? How can you reduce Instagram stresses and make it work for you? Would it benefit you to hire a dedicated social media manager?
Instagram is not a requirement for business success. Whether you choose to use it and how is up to you.
I don’t actively use Instagram. I have a personal account and several dormant business accounts. I made this decision because Instagram didn’t provide enough value for me to continue to use it. I prefer to use Twitter.
What has worked well for you? What solutions would you suggest? Share in the comments below.