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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

Later this morning I am going to be talking about change and business at The Good Life Experience⁠⠀
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The working title for my talk is '5 things I've learned from trashing my business' and its a pretty honest account of what the last 2 and a half years have meant to me.⁠⠀
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The talk is 11.30 in the drawing room of Hawarden Castle - do let me know if you are here and able to come and say
We are promised an Indian summer this weekend - sunshine through seedheads, cool evenings wrapped in blankets.⁠⠀
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I am very glad as we are off to camp at The Good Life Experience tonight - four days of amazing food, ideas, creativity and dogs (ours are staying at home so I am at liberty to fuss everyone else's)⁠⠀
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What are you doing this weekend?
I've always been drawn to women who create homes that feel welcoming.  I believe it is a wonderful skill to welcome people in, to have them relax, to talk properly, to feel safe and listened to. ⠀
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Some of the homes where I've pulled up a chair have been calm and considered, perfect curated spaces that seem to slow down time, others have been full, layered, with piles of things going on and a whirlwind of noise.  I love both.⁠⠀
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My own house veers wildly between the two - occasionally calm and spacious (a friend remarked yesterday how much bigger the kitchen seemed now that I actually have shelves for stuff), more often caught mid-project with piles of books and fabric everywhere.⁠⠀
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What about you?⁠⠀
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This week I am meant to be doing a bit of a recruitment drive for Snapdragon Studio Membership - the price goes up from £10 a month to £15 a month for anyone who joins after 18th September. ⁠⠀
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For anyone who is a member by 18th we are freezing the monthly membership at £10 until the beginning of 2021.⁠⠀
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So if you fancy discounts (these Autumn apothecary jar essential oil soy candles are only £6.13 for our Studio Members for example), a year long Grow Your Own Cut Flowers online course, my Tuesday emails with essays, nature notes, free downloads, as well as a hard copy magazine . . . . well this would be a very good week to join!⁠⠀
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You also get a welcome pack lovingly put together by Valerie.
I fear that this may be the last properly flowery windowsill from the garden - frosts are hovering around the edges. 
One morning soon I shall wake up to a soggy, collapsed and blackened garden and I’ll be hunting in the sheltered corners for undamaged flowers and praising the robustness of sedums. 
But in the meantime I’ll feast on the delicacy of cosmos purity and the single dark, sugar spangled, scabious.
Do you buy new or second hand? Oxfam’s campaign #secondhandseptember is really about clothes but it got me thinking about buying generally - and the way we've put together our home.⁠⠀
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I grew up in a house of antique dealers - my Mum had a market stall, and then a shop, which my brother continues with today - so buying second hand has always been the default.⁠⠀
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We also moved into a 1980s bungalow instead of the old property I had dreamed of and deliberately added in layers of history with reclaimed doors and furniture and floors.⁠ I think that the only new things we have bought may be the beds. ⠀
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This dresser was from Glasgow Architectural Salvage Yard - it was originally in a primary school (which is why it has wonderful chipped and jammy red gloss paint and a strip of plastic bumper tape on the corners!)⁠⠀
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I particularly love the curve of the shelves - they look like they have put in a lot of hard work.
How do you feel about dinner plate dahlias?  I've really struggled to enjoy them - the lollipop-on-stick look of them, the way the stems aren't long enough to make a balanced arrangement without plastic cones.⁠ The way that they collapse inelegantly as they age. ⠀
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Last year I dug them all out and gave them to @Katgoldin to feed her goats.  This year I accidentally ordered a whole load more.⁠⠀
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I've solved the problem by cutting them short and propping them about the place. ⁠⠀
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This is Dahlia Islander in an early C19th rose lustre cup - lounging on a dresser shelf by my Great Grandmother's tea set.⁠⠀
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(It also means you can't see the way the back petals go scruffy before the rest of the flower)
What have been your favourite flowers from this year?

I’m making a list so that I remember what I loved, what I want to make sure I plant for next year.

There is also a list of plants I found disappointing - so that I remember to walk on by and ignore the hype. 
What would be on your lists?
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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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