I unfollowed everyone on Instagram for a few months and came back recharged and inspired to create. It helped me remember why I loved Instagram in the first place.
Okay you’re probably thinking, “You’re crazy! What do you mean you unfollowed everyone?! You work in social media strategy!” While it may have been a ballsy move, it was the greatest decision I made when it came to my business and my personal life.
Let’s rewind a few months back to July. I’d gotten on this kick of listening to podcasts while driving and because my commute to my clients was always an hour or longer, I’d get through a lot of episodes in one week. I had recently been turned on to Julie Solomon’s The Influencer Podcast and loved it! It was like reading a good book that I couldn’t put down. I couldn’t wait to hit the road and listen to the next episode. I was not only geeking out on all of the social media tips and marketing ideas being shared, it was also so great listening to other people’s stories. Sounds cliche, but I could really relate to so many of these women’s lives and it was awesome to hear that I wasn’t alone. Not that I’m a narcissist or anything, but sometimes I wondered if I was the only one riding this roller coaster. I loved hearing that other people out there were having the same feelings I was about life, being an entrepreneur and navigating through this crazy world of social media. Anyway… back to the podcast. On this one particular day in July I listened to Episode #12 with Melyssa Griffin. IT CHANGED MY LIFE! Literally, I was mind blown. The exact part of the interview that spoke right to me was when she talked about unfollowing everyone on Instagram & Facebook. It was the best thing ever. I remember going home that night and telling my boyfriend about this episode and how insanely amazing it was. That same day and the next day I unfollowed EVERYONE on Instagram and unfollowed every brand account on Facebook and about 90% of my “friends” on Facebook.
Within minutes my cousin called and said, “Umm Hi. You just unfollowed me.” I had to explain I was testing something out and that it wasn’t permanent nor was it personal. It was just something I needed to do. You see, for someone like me who works in this space managing several client accounts, I’m inundated with content ALL THE TIME. Not only do I create content for my clients, but I am the "person" behind their accounts building relationships with other brands and people and engaging with them. And as you know, social media never sleeps so I felt like I was on Instagram 24/7. It got to be too much and it was sucking the energy out of me. I felt creatively suffocated and a little insecure. I spent so much of my life scrolling through photos of people’s lives and comparing mine to theirs. It was a really ugly feeling. And had it not been for this episode I don’t know if I would have been able to identify what that uneasy feeling was that I’d been experiencing.
Instagram has 100% changed our “world.” There are a million amazing things that have come out of Instagram (which I can dive in to in another post) but one thing that has come out of it isn’t so great. It’s the comparison game. You’ve felt it, right? You look at other people’s feeds and wish you had those clothes, or that blogger’s body, or went on that vacation, or had that home, or even from a business perspective wish you were a better photographer or more clever with your captions and Instagram stories. Whatever it is, we’ve all been there; getting envious of other people we see on Instagram. We get caught up in this tiny world of squares and feel like we should be doing what “everyone else” is doing (#avocadotoast and #butfirstcoffee). It wasn’t good for me emotionally and it wasn’t good for my business. I had forgotten about why I loved Instagram in the first place. So after unfollowing everyone, I took the next few months to think about what it was that initially drew me to Instagram and what it was that got me to create a huge part of my business around it. I also took about three weeks off from posting on my personal and business accounts. I still had to be on Instagram for my clients, so I wasn’t completely in the dark. But on a personal and business level, I had totally cleared the clutter and it felt amazing!
I was no longer seeing things that made me feel uneasy or envious. It was so much easier for me to focus on other things like my business and what I wanted to do with my business. I was more present with the people I loved. I was no longer getting jealous of someone’s trip to Bali or taking screenshots of photos for inspo. I wasn’t aimlessly scrolling through and double tapping on photos. It was a whole new world, literally! I stopped worrying about photos to post and if this one photo of a palm tree I snapped would get a lot of “likes.” I was doing me and “keeping my eyes on my own desk.”
Creatively I was recharged. I’d come back to that place that inspired me to create. And I remembered why I loved Instagram in the first place; because of the stories it told and how those stories can connect people. It’s an amazing platform to learn about people, places, ideas, and to connect with individuals you may not have ever been able to connect with before. It’s a place to share stories, get inspired, laugh, cry, and learn.
This whole break helped me get a stronghold on the vision I have for my brand and business and for what I want to get out of Instagram on a personal level. I was able to regain the confidence in myself that I am good at what I do and I don’t need to compare my story to someone else’s. I’ve started to follow accounts again but have been much more intentional with who I’m following. I now follow people who make me laugh, who inspire me, who teach me and who love and support me. And for those of you wondering if that three week break (break-up) with Instagram effected my engagement, I will say, yes, I think so. But that break made me also realize who I wanted to connect with moving forward. When I’m sharing glimpses of my story on Instagram, I want to connect with people who are like minded, who get inspired by what I’m sharing, who get my silly jokes, and who learn from what I’m writing about. I want to find a tribe of people who are going to look at my posts and not feel envious but rather who feel motivated and who want to join in on a conversation where we’re getting to know each other and building a community. So if that means I have to start over and build my engagement back up, so be it. I’m okay with that because I’ll know I’m connecting with the right people.
Big thanks to Julie Solomon and Melyssa Griffin for inspiring me. For anyone reading this, I hope this inspires you to create your own path, because trust me, there are people out that that will walk that path with you and LOVE it!