Recently, I opened up about some of my Style Charade goals going into the New Year. Some were blog-oriented, others related to general business. But above all – I shared my biggest heartbreak of 2021.
In return, your response to the post astounded me. Every individual email, direct message and comment touched me greatly. Thank you.
So what was the heartbreak? Instagram. Yep, Instagram. For all of its faults, I adore the platform and have kept my feelings and frustrations about the channel to myself for some time. But I felt like it was time to say something.
Moreover, many of you confirmed my suspicions. “I never see your posts anymore” and “I have to go out of my way to search for your channel to find your content.”
Interesting… but not surprising.
Since writing about the topic, many Creators have opened up to share their struggles and decisions related to the platform. In one case, my friend Jess shared that she’ll be transitioning off of it this year. Such a loss – I adore her content (although she’ll be just fine – her blog is amazing).
Even Stephanie McNeal, a top influencer/social media industry writer, said that she anticipates it’ll be a trend this year (i.e. Creators leaving the platform).
I for one, will not be in that group. However, it got me thinking… how do we champion Creators to stay ON Instagram? What are actionable ways that you (and I) can do to support others?
A Momofuku Moment
Well, in my humble opinion, it boils down to Momofuku. Yep, I’m talking about the phenomenal culinary brand by one of my all-time favorite chefs – a Michelin two-star recipient, restauranteur, TV personality, and author: David Chang. About a decade ago, Bob and I managed to score two seats at the original Momofuku Ko – the twelve-seat mecca of deliciousness in New York’s Lower East Side.
Everyone sat at an L-shaped counter and marveled at the craftsmanship and technique of the chefs. Best of all, it resulted in a quaint family-like atmosphere. Guests (i.e. strangers) got to know each other, and the culinary masterminds were mere inches away and part of it with you. Ko has since moved to the Bowery and can now accommodate a whopping few dozen-ish guests.
But how does Mr. Chang and his inimitable food have anything to do with Instagram?
Recently, he was interviewed about the major struggles of the hospitality industry during the pandemic. The question was simple – “how does one help the restaurant industry?”
His answer surprised me. Instead of offering grandiose advice about new legislation or big ideas, he chose a more simple path. Tbh… I can’t find the rest of his exact quote, but I’ll paraphrase it below:
“You can’t save everyone,” he explained.
“Pick three restaurants. Just three. Those small, independent mom and pop spots whose food you love and would be devastated if it went away. You don’t need to order from them every day or even every week. But order from them as often as you can. Stick to three that you would be sad went away.”
Three. Just three. He went on to say you can even rotate them every few months as you see fit. I LOVED his advice, and we’ve been following it ever since.
It also feels like the perfect opportunity for Instagram. More on this later.
Support Instagram Creators
For my full-time job, part of my role is assisting with social media strategy. I love researching trends, new tools, algorithm considerations, analytics, and insights. However, there’s one golden rule – there’s no perfect formula for Instagram. Ever. Plus, it changes all the time.
If anyone in the world knew the exact secret sauce and exclusively “earned” way (i.e. not paid) to see success on the platform, they’d be Jeff Bezos by now. Trust.
At the same time, I do know my stuff. Therefore, I want to share tangible takeaways and advice on how you can choose to support Instagram Creators.
The Three C’s
If you’ve been following Style Charade for some time, you know I don’t complain about Instagram. To me, it feels like an eye roll-inducing topic. But, alas, here we are. For all of its downsides, I find immense joy in the channel. I’m thankful for what it’s provided. Often friends and family will ask why I continue to support something that seems to pref businesses over Creators at times. My answer is simple, “the three C’s.”
The three C’s? What’s that?
Years ago, Bob and I were having lunch in Chicago and he asked me a simple question, “why do you love Instagram so much?” Over the meal, I realized that there were three core reasons. They all just so happen to start with the letter C. Content, community, and conversion.
These three C’s, although very formal sounding (haha!), are what keeps me excited and committed to the channel.
Content is one of the most thrilling and unique attributes of the channel. How cool is it that we get to broadly showcase our unique lens with a click of a button? With every post, we invite others to be given a window into our world – our imagination, our innovation, and our ideas.
Best of all, we get to find new viewpoints that align with our own. Even better, we can discover content that opens our eyes to a new perspective.
I love the ability to share our feelings, visions, personal style, homes, beauty routines, and travel. Plus, in creating content, I adore that we get to stretch new muscles. Learn new skills like Lightroom. Even more analytical skills and deep dives into audience insights. So good!
The people on the platform continue to surprise and delight. Some of the most meaningful friendships in my life have stemmed from the channel. Truly. These authentic relationships have impacted who I am as a person. I could go on and on about this point… but the community is my absolute favorite aspect of the channel.
It’s frankly what keeps me on it. Every single one of you. I’m thankful we’ve found a small corner of the Internet that remains positive. It feels rare and super special.
Now this one might seem odd to include as a benefit or “pro” aspect of the brand. When I talk about conversion, I’m personally not talking about the monetary benefits to individuals. I’m more referring to how it helps brands. Since I work on the PR side of things, I can see concrete ways that the channel helps with awareness and sales – especially small businesses.
For all of the negative press about Instagram, I will also be grateful that they widen the world and open up possibilities for brands that would have never seen the light of day.
How to Support Instagram Creators
Okay, so how does this all correlate with Momofuku? Simple – I have a challenge for you. Pick three. Just three. Pick three Creators who you’d be devastated to leave the platform. They could be emerging musicians, photographers, artists, textile designers, bloggers, a friend or even colleague.
My advice is to pick three and go out of your way to champion them. How?
- Save their static posts
- Re-share their Instagram stories and Reels
- Comment on their posts as early and often as possible
- Tap on their Instagram Story links
- Turn on his/her/their notifications
- Respond to their Q&A’s
- Attend their Instagram Lives
- DM them
- Support them with badges and subscriptions (as they roll out)
- Purchase via their affiliate links, when possible
Given all the options above, you could even pick three ways to support Instagram creators and leave it at that! At the end of the day, Instagram is a mostly free channel where we get to connect, converse, and communicate with one another each and every day.
I’m not asking for you to pick me. 🙂 If I happen to be among them… very cool and thanks.
But please pick three.