Why are so many female entrepreneurs I talk to stressed about Instagram? So many conversations I hear and have about Instagram revolve around what to post, when to post, and how to post. These conversations typically are not business analytical in nature, but instead obsessive and over-analytical. Many of us over analyze Instagram and the images shared in an unhealthy way and it creates stress.
The reason for the stress is cognitive dissonance. Cognitive dissonance is when a person holds contradictory beliefs, ideas, or values. The primary two beliefs that female entrepreneurs have include: 1) Instagram is a personal reflection of individuals, their business, and their success. 2) Instagram is a marketing platform for business purposes to build an audience and promote a product, service, or brand. We recognize these two beliefs, but the problem is we blur the lines between personal and business.
We assume that the “marketing story” that others are telling is a personal reflection of them. Thus we view others as more successful than they possibly are. This creates false expectations and allows us to become disappointed when we see behind the curtain or truly get to know the person behind the account. Then depending on the emotional maturity we have, we may gossip out of envy because there is now a disconnect between what we know and what we see online.
Realize that Instagram is a marketing platform. Images and stories are curated to reflect the best version of a person and/or brand in an effort to gain followers, likes, and sales. Consciously separate the person you know from the brand story they tell. People’s lives are way more complicated and nuanced than they share publicly. Acknowledge the brand for what it is, complete your due diligence if you decide to work with them, and if they are friend love them for who they are.
We feel conflicted about what to post. In an effort to not feel or be seen as “fake” or “unauthentic” we under share or overshare. Undersharing does not serve us well because in order for people to connect with us we have to stay visible and be consistent. Oversharing does not serve us either because most customers do not want to hear about your personal and/or professional challenges or problems. They want to know how you can help and best serve them. They want to be inspired, educated, and uplifted. It is not disingenuous to show the highlights as long as the highlights accurately reflect the level of service and quality of the product the customer will receive.
Before you post, ask yourself these questions: Am I sharing to impress others or will this inspire someone to do better? Will this teach someone something? Am I sharing digital clutter (posting just to post) or will this encourage someone to do something positive? Is this an accurate reflection of me and/or my business? Does this align with my company values? Maintain some mystery and allure. Keep in mind Disney would not be as magical if you saw everything that happened behind the scenes. The same goes for your business.
We take Instagram too seriously. At the end of the day, Instagram is a social platform to connect people. People with brands and people with each other. For businesses, Instagram is a marketing platform. We get too caught up in our like and follower counts.
Take your feelings (eg0) out of it and do not overthink it. Are you trying to be the most popular or you trying to be of value? If people aren’t engaging, responding, commenting, liking, and clicking on your profile link then all the followers in the world don’t mean anything. From a business perspective, likes and followers don’t translate to dollars. High engagement (# of engagement/# of followers) is more valuable because it shows people are more likely to buy or share what you are selling. Be of positive influence by adding something to people’s lives and naturally the right people will be attracted to you.
Be of value, be engaging, be consistent, be creative, be the best version of your brand, and keep moving forward!
**This post was referenced on Emma Wood (2018).