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The social in social media

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I was never part of the popular group at school.

If you have ever met me this will not be a surprise - too short, too fat, too opinionated - I was also eighteen months younger than most of my school year, something that does not make you cool as a teenager.

However I cannot remember ever wanting to be part of it - somewhere where your status depends on more people wanting to be friends with you than you are prepared to be friends with. The cliquey inner circle and the adoring admirers. It always looked a bit limiting. I'm sure was quite sneery about it, inspired by all those coming of age books and movies.

Of course, once you leave schoo,l this social model pretty much dissolves, offices, colleges, universities are all more diverse and people find it much easier to be themselves. I may not have wanted to be part of the popular gang but I do remember the relief of it no longer being a thing.

Which makes me wonder why social media - Instagram in particular - has this element.

I'm not talking about personal Instagram here - because people use that for a whole host of different reasons and in particular like specific accounts so they can build up a pretty and inspirational feed.

I'm talking to the people who say they want to use Instagram to build an audience, the makers, the writers, the yoga teachers and chefs who see social media as an ideal way to get their message out into the world*.

Every day I get about 30 follows from genuine people/businesses on my Instagram account. Within a week 25 of those will unfollow me as part of an 'audience acquisition' tactic that baffles me. People employ bots to like accounts in the hope that a percentage will like them back and their follower numbers will increase. They then unlike the accounts to keep the gap between followers and followed as large as possible.

That seems bizarre. We are no longer in high school, our status is not determined between the gap between the number of people who follow you and those you follow. When I see small and mid-sized accounts with a massive difference I assume that they have done this kind of follow/unfollow thing, or that they have bought followers, or that they just don't want to interact at all. It certainly isn't a way to spread your message.

I see Instagram in a completely different way.

Instagram is an amazing app. When people there like my photos and comment, I can then immediately go over to their accounts, get a glimpse into their lives, see what makes them happy, comment on their photos and begin a connection.

This is amazing. For a small social business I can't think of anything more amazing. Where else can you begin to forge relationships with people as genuinely and quickly?

Most of the people I follow are the people who follow me and like or comment on my photos - they are a mix of Members, customers, people in my Facebook Group, people who just like what we do - I don't follow many big highly curated accounts.

This means that the feed that I wake up to in the morning is a really diverse thing - it is not a sweep of beautifully filtered, carefully edited photos because most people outside the professional instagram bubble don't care about that. They care about sharing their lives.

So every morning I see the things that makes my customers smile - the spaniel puppies, the children baking, the bright blue sky.

And that makes me smile too.

So what I would say to people wanting to build a worthwhile audience is this - if you want to have a beautiful edited feed then create a private account just for that, but use your public account to be lavish with your likes, comments and follows (they don't cost anything) and connect with real people.

*I absolutely see how this becomes more difficult once you have a massive and highly engaged following! Obviously no-one can spend all day chatting and you will only ever see a tiny proportion of the people you follow. I would love to hear from people who have found a solution.

Comments: 3 (Add)

Helen : Heartease Flower Garden on November 10 2018 at 21:17

HI! I totally agree with you! I love who I follow, they are inspirational to me and I enjoy their photos and comments. I have only just started this year on instagram and am really enjoying it and connecting with people across the world is amazing! Recently I have had some really odd followers who all have accounts about cigars (bizarrely!) , and I just don't follow them back. Then they disappear after a week or so. So, like you I only follow back people who inspire me, whose posts I like and who seem authentic. Like you! Helen x

Cate MacDonald on November 16 2018 at 13:21

LOL I check instagram to see what my daughter has been up to the night before! Seriously I only use social media for good. I keep up with extended family and am always amused by friends. I try not to push my feelings about the world on other people and don't buy into the nonsense that can also be spread by well meaning folk who just haven't looked further. Keep it happy and keep in touch are my social media mottos :)

Linda (@occasionalscotland) on April 15 2019 at 21:44

Interesting! I Have a personal IG account which gradually veered towards what will shortly become a new business, and I began to miss the accounts that brought me joy, because they were drowned out by all the others. So I have started a cull on my personal account and I guess will be one of those people you mean who have a big gap between followers and followed. But on a personal level there is only so much stuff I can wade through. And yes, there were a lot of cigars!

Snapdragon social

Yesterday marked 32 years since Euan and my first date. I spent time looking through photo albums for a record of that time. There weren’t any photos - I don’t think I had a camera or the cash needed to develop photos back then - but there were a few pressed flowers. ⠀
I don’t know what they were from, I should have labelled them, but they obviously meant enough to keep. ⠀
This photo is of the little brass frame from our Flower Press kit that was the most recent Studio Box. We have a few left packed up and after that it will be repackaged as a more expensive gift version. ⠀
If you were thinking of buying one, either as a one off or as the start of a quarterly subscription you can find out more by clicking the link in my profile.
Poppies are really the best cut flowers. Especially if you are stuck inside and can watch them gradually open. All varieties work - from wild corn poppies to the flamboyant oriental poppies. ⠀
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Cut them in full bud, if you can see the petals just about to burst through that’s perfect. ⠀
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Sear the bottom inch of stem in boiling water for 5 seconds and then arrange. The lower stem will go black so best in an opaque vase. ⠀
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If you recut above the black line you need to re-sear. ⠀
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They should last 5 days. 5 days of wonder.
Yesterday was the first hot day, the first day in the garden when I didn’t feel that all my poor plants are shivering and shrinking. ⠀
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It was also the first day for weeks that I had completely clear, no plans, no work, nothing but time to potter and plant. Glorious. ⠀
What is your weekend like? ⠀
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(Today it is back to being windy but I don’t care as I’m also back at work, prepping everything so that we are ready to send out the magazine part of A Seasonal Way next week)
How do you manage different layers of privacy, vulnerability and messy beginnings online?  I was musing about this yesterday, all the different things I put out into the world - and how I choose where to post them. ⠀
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How I choose what to post here, what goes out in my general newsletter, what goes into my Studio Members Newsletter and what gets posted into my (free) closed Facebook Group Snapdragon Studio Bee. ⠀
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It’s all subtle stuff, the difference I suppose in what you would talk about in a live interview and what you would chat to the interviewer about later, off the record, over coffee. Both conversations are likely honest and true, but one might still be evolving and feel too unformed, too fragile for public consumption.⠀
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I’ve decided to document my beginnings with screen printing in the Snapdragon Studio Bee Facebook Group - it’s a really supportive group and I’ve no fear of judgment in there - if you want to join you would be really welcome. It’s thankfully not a competitive, ego driven group so I think I will feel very comfortable sharing the things that don’t work as well as those that do.
Yesterday was a stressful day.  Our big printer, which does all the textile things, keeled over with a fatal error.⠀
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Repair is seemingly not possible, replacement too expensive.  We had to take about 40% of the things we sell off various websites.  It's not ideal.⠀
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But after I'd got over the frustration of number crunching and having to cancel orders, it seemed like an opportunity really.⠀
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Val and I have been talking about screen printing since the beginning of the year - it is one of the reasons we cleared the workshop so that there is a long central working space.⠀
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I want to be able to draw directly on the screens - and play about with the technique a bit, make the results really immediate, sketched, mine.⠀
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I've ordered supplies and will be working away playing with the technique over the next week or so.⠀
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Sometimes it seems that when I don't move fast enough towards something, fate just seems to create mayhem until there are no other options left but to just ‘do it’. ⠀
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Does anyone else find that?
What is your favourite way to make a house a home? 
I'm not a tidy person - my natural persona is more like Thing 1 and Thing 2 in the Cat in the Hat, everywhere I have been, there is a trail of mess left behind. ⠀
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When I wanted to leave my job as a museum curator Euan said I could do anything I wanted to, he would always support my decision, as long as I didn't attempt to become a housewife because I would be truly terrible at it.⠀
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On Tuesdays though Izabella comes and cleans the house for us (this is why my embroidery morning is a Tuesday, so I can keep out of the way)⠀
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Walking back into the house on a Tuesday lunchtime is always such a lovely feeling - the kitchen is tidy, the floors mopped, order is restored.⠀
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I try to take advantage of the sense of homeliness by doing some of the things I am good at - arranging flowers, cooking.  Often I do so much of these faffing about domestic things that I have managed to make the kitchen a mess by the time anyone else gets home.⠀
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The plum poppies are blooming.  A week late, but here to say happy anniversary Jenny and Jeremy. #ayearinflowers #week24
How tidy are you? Do you like everything out and to hand or do you prefer clear surfaces and blank space?

It’s Tuesday today so that means my embroidery day as I build up a little collection of limited edition works which then go up into the webshop on the last Friday of each month. (Studio members get first dibs and then the link goes into my newsletter later in the day)

I took this photo yesterday afternoon of the bench that is next to my sewing machine. Untidied, un-arranged, but with rather nice light coming in the window. 
There is a half made doorstop, some piles of cut wool to be embroidered and the threads I like to have near at hand. You can see that the wall where I work used to have tiles on it, you can see that I’m neither neat nor organised. 
Showing my day - a 10 second photo, full of reality, potential, and life is what I meant when I talked about doing and Social media last week. 
#doingnotseeming
I welcomed the rain yesterday - it didn't seem so bad to be indoors proofing the final version of the A Seasonal Way magazine.⠀This goes alongside the e-course and community and is at the heart of the whole thing 🌱
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It goes to print tomorrow so I need to decide the final numbers today.  I'm not going to be able to print another run, but equally I don't want to be left with lots of copies.⠀
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So today is the last day to order to guarantee that your A Seasonal Way has a hard copy rather than a digital copy of the magazine part.⠀
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This article is about off grid holidays, why they appeal and what we get from them.  The mug in the background with coffee is by @amandabanhamceramics.⠀
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You can find out more about the A Seasonal Way course by clicking through my profile, or in the A Seasonal Way story highlight.  I would love it if you felt you could share about what I'm doing here!  The more people join in, the better the community will be.
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About Snapdragon

At Snapdragon we gently guide you through bringing the changing seasons into your daily life, helping you slow down, so that you can experience increased well being, calm and creativity.

Through our communities, both free and paid for, through Jane's writing on the blog, through carefully hand crafted gifts and activity kits, and through our online and in-person workshops we aim to bring people back in touch with the rhythms of a seasonal life.

Learn more about why here

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