Sydney lifetsyle-photographer: Can instagram pods ruin your authentic voice?
Last year, I decided to up my Instagram game and invest more time in this platform. I had played on and off but realised it wasn't going to go away and needed to get my act into gear. I wasn't sure how to approach it, and a friend suggested Instagram pods. The idea is simple enough; a group of like-minded people share their work and everyone within the group comments on the post to help engagement.
I quickly found a large group of photographers who would share a post at a particular time, and everyone had 30 minutes to comment and share the love on the links within each post. It worked wonderfully! It was fast and efficient. My numbers of likes and comments sky-rocketed. My engagement increased and it felt wonderful to have a sense of community in this big world of photography
However, my comments started to feel flat. They were repetitive and I felt like I wasn't being authentic with the comments that I was leaving. I didn't know many of the photographers in this group, and I felt that my words were fake. I tried hard to be honest and genuine with my words, but there were some images that I know I wouldn't normally leave a comment. I felt like I was selling myself short just to increase the number of likes on my profile. I quietly left the group and looked for another option.
I was then asked to join a smaller pod, one filled with photographers who I admire and some who I call my friends. Again, I felt a sense of community and worked hard at writing genuinely heartfelt comments. However, there were times when I wanted to write "I truly love this photo. Not because we are in a pod but because I am in-love with this image". Of course, I never wrote these words but I started to feel weird again like my true voice was being squashed in the vain attempt to grow my profile.
So, I stepped away from social media over summer. I was still sharing, but I wasn't involved in the pods or groups at all. I started to notice that I genuinely liked to comment on photographers whose work I admire. I began to see the comments that I was leaving felt right as they came from the heart. I started to notice my joy when I received an un-requested comment from members of the pod group and I was beyond happy when photographers who I adore wrote lovely words about my work.
Of course, we all love comments and supportive words on our work and in our life. We would much rather our husband or partner notice our new hair-cut rather than say, " Do you like my new haircut?". We don't like to fish for comments, and yet that is what I felt like I was doing.
And, so I reluctantly left this group as well. I am old enough to know that engagement and reach won't come authentically when I am not authentic. I don't want to trade my authenticity for approval or likes or hearts. I know that when I am genuine and heartfelt, the person on the receiving end will appreciate my honesty.
If you feel like this, maybe it is time to take a social media break and re-connect with you. Pause for a moment and listen to that voice because it is the only one that matters. And I leave you with some Brene Brown:
“What we know matters but who we are matters more.”
Want to learn more about your authentic voice?