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To Instagram, or not Instagram? That is the question...

Well that's the question on my mind at the moment. Whilst Instagram is a brilliant social media platform for sharing ones personal loving snaps with family and friends, which I hastened to add, I think is great, it has also been an excellent, free, marketing platform for my little business. I've loved popping the odd photo on my social media to share with friends and equally loved seeing friends' photos of their families, but when it comes to doing this to try to keep my business 'out there' I seem to have hit a bit of a brick wall. I have since realised that this once upon a time 'free' marketing platform is actually not free at all, and actually nothing really is free in life is it? Don't get me wrong, In the beginning, it was great! I slowly gathered 'followers' and ... 'likes' (much excitement!) and it felt really good, I was feeling, at least that my business was spreading, steadily, over social media and wow Instagram was really helping me - a friend asked me the other day how many followers I had, it seems I have now just over 1,000, a 1,000! - an amazing amount for me, and quite an achievement. But here's where it starts to turn - so with my wonderful amount of followers (of which I am truly grateful), recently, possibly since Instagram was taken over by Meta, who knows, I have found that generally my posts aren't getting 'out there' as I had hoped - I feel less people are 'seeing' my posts or they're not 'reaching' as many people as I would have hoped and just a handful of people are reacting to things I put on. I tested this out and asked a couple of people if they'd seen anything from me upon which the answer was no, yet the friends that I have a closer contact with (perhaps I like their posts) there seems to be more of an interaction... Maybe that's how it works - tit for tat - I like your post and you like mine? Whilst you may laugh and think I'm being ridiculous and over sensitive it can actually be quite demoralising. So, I ask myself... is this the point where I 'buy' my followers, 'boost' my posts for a price, throw out money that flies into the stratosphere of Social Media, not really knowing where my money will go and how it will help me as a business? How does Instagram work better for one and not for the other - is it the tags? Is it the time of day we post our much worked on 'special' photo? Is it our hashtags? Our reel/story/post? Or may be we just have to put more money into it? All these little factors that go into this one platform where at the end of the day can brighten up our day if we get over 20 likes or make us feel completely rubbish if we get 3 likes. Is this morally correct? Are we doing ourselves a personal injustice? As a small business I don't have a lot of spare money to spend on marketing, what little money I do get from my small business, should I be putting it into advertising on Instagram???

I have spoken to many people about this and to people who run small businesses and it seems a lot of us do feel the same, some are more savvy than others of course and good for them - perhaps I ought to go on (another) course to update my knowledge?

Running a small business and literally making everything I sell, I find the marketing side comes second - Instagram has lost me, let me down, it was brilliant when it started and now I feel completely behind in the rat race because I physically can not be on it 24hrs/7 and certainly don't have the surplus funds to 'buy' my followers and 'boost' my posts or god forbid pay someone to do this. As a result this has left me feeling discouraged and actually sometimes fairly depressed! Am I missing out on something, should I be doing better, have I got a hopeless business? All these unhelpful negative feelings roll in, I try not to wallow too much on it all as life moves at a fast pace, but it does leave potential to be pretty disheartening for ones own business.

I actually studied Marketing at University (believe it or not) but of course back then we didn't have the likes of Instagram, Twitter or even Face Book - it was the basics of Marketing and maybe it's time to go back to the basics and pull back from the rat race of Instagram and other social media platforms? But the idea of cancelling my account on either of these Social Media platforms fills me with horror and the fear of FOMO - what if I miss out on something, or what if someone is looking for my page and can't find it? Panic! Quite possibly I need go on an Instagram course and put aside some money to further my business, perhaps pick up some tips from my fellow small businesses.

So, the question I have is, do you use Instagram for your business? Are you finding the same thing as me? Are you struggling with the creative side as well as the promoting of your small business? Do you feel demoralised when someone you follow gets more likes than you? Do you spend hours on getting that perfect picture of your stock and for sometimes no response? Would you have the guts to cancel your account or do you suffer from FOMO like myself? Do you feel compelled to be on Instagram (like me) or keen to leave, although worried if you do?

So, here goes my dilemma as I first set out to write this blog - To Instagram, or not to Instagram? That is the question?

Any advice or tips would be hugely grateful! Thanks for reading.... Leni x (your instagram friend)

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