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Snapdragon blog

The social in social media


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

On Sunday night Euan turned to me and said “I don’t think we have ever made as much difference to the garden in such a short time.”⠀
⁣ He was right. In October we had brought in soil to make raised beds - turning the ground slick and slippery. All winter and Spring I looked at mud and worried about all the people that I had told that there would be a garden to see in May. ⠀
But then - dry weather, fierce cold winds and suddenly on Friday afternoon we could barrow and build and by Sunday night . . . There are the beginnings of a new productive garden - a mix of vegetables and flowers for cutting. ⠀
As usual Euan did all the heft and heavy stuff and I planted and staked and fluffed up mulch. ⠀
If you are coming along to A Seasonal Day on 8th May I am pleased to say that there will be a garden! ⠀
Sometimes projects come together really quickly - one of the best things about having a small making business is that you can go from idea to having something for sale in a single day. ⠀
🧶 ⠀
This was not one of those projects - I had the idea in our busy Christmas period, took away the samples to knit while travelling in Asia in February, and yet only put the kit up on the website yesterday. ⠀
I don't normally post many direct product shots here - but this one is special to me. I wanted to make a beginners’ knitting kit that allows people to knit something practical and quick - in this instance beautiful cotton face cloths and exfoliating cleansing wipes - and which felt substantial yet not daunting. My aim with everything is to make it easy for people to give things a go. ⠀
And I wanted it to look beautiful and be practical and all be packaged up in way that was part of the kit. ⠀
Everything came together earlier this week and I’m so pleased with how it looks, the squidgy cotton balls of yarn, the instruction cards and needles all in their own specially printed drawstring project bag. ⠀
I hope you like it too.
How do you like to learn? I used to be happiest just battering on by myself, making mistakes, googling. But increasingly I find I’m preferring to be shown things by someone who knows what they are doing, to have the space to ask questions, and then to go home and try everything on my own with the option to call if I get stuck. ⠀
I find my mind opened so much more by talking to other people - rather than beginning a project from my own limited viewpoint. ⠀
I had a great time yesterday learning E-magazine production with Eleanor from @creativecountryside and today I’m planning to practice everything by re-formatting the guide to getting the most from your cut flowers to send out with the next newsletter. ⠀
I also met up with @bob_sy - all arranged on an Instagram whim - and had a wonderful evening discussing kindness, connection and creativity. ⠀
Increasingly I love being able to move beyond typed words and have great rambling conversations. Is anyone else finding the same? ⠀
GIVEAWAY - Today I am getting the train down to Lancaster to meet Eleanor from @creativecountryside.  She is going to be showing me the ins and outs of making a magazine.⁣⠀
I have always loved the aesthetics of Creative Countryside magazine - the solidity of it, the surety - so when the chance came up to take a masterclass in how to put it together I jumped at the opportunity.⁣⠀
I love putting together the e-magazines for Studio Members and A Seasonal Way, but I am very aware that I am simply joining together PDFs.  I want to create something more magical, more meant.⁣⠀
My lesson is co-inciding with suddenly having fast WiFi at home - so uploading a magazine no longer requires a drive to Stirling to poach University WiFi.  This will change Everything!⁣⠀
This magazine is the first bumper edition of Creative Countryside, as it turns from a quarterly into a biannual publication. ⁣⠀
I am a contributor to this edition, as well as subscribing, so I have an extra copy which I would love to give away. ⁣⠀
Just comment here - and make sure you are following me - and we will pick a name at random next Tuesday.⁣⠀
(The knitting is the #comfortblanketkal by @louisetilbrookdesigns which shall be my train knitting)
I knew this greenhouse as a child. It had a grapevine then, and a lead dipping trough that was home to motherless ducklings. ⠀
There were long snakes of terracotta pots under the staging and I got to turn the cranks to open windows in the roof. ⠀
When it was abandoned and began to fall down we asked if we could take it and give it a new home - and now  it stands in our drive, the oldest thing here. ⠀
Euan rebuilt it all exactly - with a new base, but with everything else original.  It turned out to be a superior form of flat pack.⠀
This weekend I stood in the greenhouse, mid watering the seedlings that are crammed in tiers onto the staging and floor, and tried to link it back to when I was seven. ⠀
I couldn’t. Then is was an enormous space of dust and spiders and broken glass , of benches to climb on and a cold, dark trough of water we were to stay away from. ⠀
Now it is my garden in waiting. Waiting for May. ⠀
I did think I should maybe plant a grape vine though.
I photographed this heart of honeysuckle on the Isle of Bute last month - a random reminder that nature is at the heart of everything that I love.⁣⠀
Also last month, I spent a wonderful evening with my friend @hazey107 - and she told the story of why she had crossed the school playground to make friends with me 16 years ago.⁣⠀
Seemingly I was standing waiting for the P1s to come out, my toddler on my hip.  Her bright blonde hair was full of leaves and sticks, her bare feel black with soil.  Hazel immediately felt that, with such a feral looking child, I must be her kind of person.⁣⠀
We would have been travelling back from the field where I grew my flowers at that time, we hadn't yet found this house.⁣ I was probably worried about being the only scruffy Mum at the school gate. ⠀I never felt I did school gates very well. ⁣⠀
But hearing Hazel’s story I was so glad that I never mastered that
We are promised a dry and sunny weekend here in Stirlingshire. I have 3 days completely clear of commitments. The greenhouse is full of seedlings, the ground is dry enough to work. I have 4 tonnes of mulch in the drive. 🌱

I can barely contain my excitement. 🌱🌱 I’ve been awake since 5 (though obviously still in bed!) 🌱🌱🌱 What do you have planned for the weekend?
In February we visited Myanmar - to spend time with our younger daughter who is teaching there for a year. 
I loved the country and it has changed the way I look at many things. (1000s of feral dogs, yet no dog shit on the streets- what does that tell you about community?) On a more food based level I was just amazed by the salads and the way that plants that I would regard as ‘past it’ at home - like these mizuna gone to seed - or just not edible - like courgette leaves are used to create the most delicious and satisfying meals. 
I have written a blog with a recipe for a ‘greens’ salad with crispy shallots which is one of my favourite things to eat at the moment. You can get to it via the link in my profile. 
The other photos were taken at Nyaung Shaw market where we bought food before cooking it at the Bamboo Delight Cookery school (fantastic)

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