Getting Visible on Instagram Stories
In May, I hosted a challenge in my private community on Facebook ‘Modern Artisans Collective’. The challenge consisted of getting visible on Instagram Stories during the month of May - four weeks of hopping on camera, talking to one’s audience, and stepping up as the founder of their creative brand/craft.
15 out of 100 modern artisans bravely took on the challenge and did a wonderful job with the prompts that were made available. Each week had a set of prompts which felt like small baby steps so as not to overwhelm participants and their respective followers.
Today, I’m sharing the lessons we can all learn from this social experiment in this blogpost.
The things holding us back
When I first announced it in my group, the feedback was excitement mixed with genuine fear. Showing our face on Instagram Stories? Speaking on camera? EEEEK. Talk about scary. I expected as much because let’s face it, we humans are like this - we tend to enjoy being in our comfort zones and unless there’s a real urgent event that pushes us to do so, it’s not something we welcome arms wide open generally.
Some of the things that were holding these creative entrepreneurs, freelancers, and craftsmen and craftswomen, artisans, and online shopkeepers, were:
Fear of judgment from others
This one is big. What will people think of me? Will they think less of me? Some also fear criticism or negative feedback.
What is important for you to know here is that not everyone will like what you do, and that’s a fact. As a creative entrepreneur, it’s easier to stay away from the spotlight, because then there are less chances of getting horrible comments or ‘hate mail’ or trolls. By doing so though, you’re not only staying invisible to trolls but you' could potentially be hidden from your dream clients.
Something’s got to give here. And I suggest you start playing big, put on the Big Girl/Big Guy Pants and head on to shine on your social media networks where more people can find you, and be attracted to your brand. When you as the founder of your brand show up, you’ll be surprised at how many more clients will show up for you too.
Will I make a fool of myself? I hate how I look/sound on camera. The only times we truly look at ourselves is when we look in the mirror, am I right? Or when we take a selfie… And so it can feel that when we’re looking at ourselves when filming for Instagram Stories a bit similar to looking in the mirror. We suddenly see that our nose looks a bit odd, or the acne is getting really bad, or our hair isn’t how we want it to look like, and oh-my-goodness is that a - no, don’t say it, is that a grey hair I see?
Being self-conscious goes out of the window when the modern artisans in the group realized that it wasn’t about them. They weren’t going to parade in front of a jury based on their looks or how they sound. They grew in confidence the more they practised. And finally their voice didn’t sound so bad after all, and the face and hair were all fine.
I’m a private person!
Another misconception was that being visible on Instagram Stories suddenly meant that your followers will know all there is to know about you and your whole life is going to be exposed for the whole world to see and react to. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.
In actual fact, good branding is when you showcase what’s relevant to your audience and your niche market, not by sharing EVERY.SINGLE.THING that happens within your day.
Let’s look at some examples:
When it comes to one of my brands as a nomadic writer and mentor to women who want to live a slow and more intentional life, I share a lot of personal things - challenges I face, how I cycle-sync with my menses to optimize work, tidbits on my relationship with my husband, and life transitions (moving, relocating, decluttering, changing lifestyle, health issues etc). The reason why this works is because it attracts women who also face challenges within their life and are maybe undergoing through seasons of change too. What I omit are my family, friends, and events such as getting married. I didn’t share my wedding prep or ceremony or celebration on social media, I don’t share about me celebrating my birthday or which friend came to visit me. These are personal to me, and what I intentionally keep private because they aren’t of any relevance to my clients.
With my other brand as the founder of my social media agency BrandSalt, I share a lot about work/life blend and how I manage a location-independent business. I also share about creativity, rest, and anything that falls under the pillars of my framework: Season, Strengthen, and Sustain - all about doing Social With Heart. On my Instagram Stories, I also take my audience with when I visit markets, artisan fairs, or showcase how I balance 1:1 coaching calls with my private clients and wandering/creating/ enjoying life.
So always remember that when you see someone else sharing candidly about their personal stories, see how it resonates with their respective audience and what they do. The health coach that openly shares about menopause, or the yoga & wellness practitioner who sometimes shares about overcoming high anxiety, the designer vulnerably opening up about postpartum depression whose target audience are moms.
It’s not about sharing everything that goes on in our lives, but sharing things that matter to our audience. In other words, creating content that your specific audience cares about and wants to see. Just because you see people showing their morning coffee doesn’t mean you have to get on board if that’s not going to serve your audience or your brand. But if your creations are fuelled by your morning coffee, by all means - share to your heart’s content!
I’m no beauty queen
The thing is, being visible on Instagram Stories does not require you to be a beauty queen. It’s not about looks, honestly. For sure, I’m not saying do Instagram Stories after a red eye flight or the second you finish doing an intense workout. What if you think of it as owning a physical store, and you’re there manning the shop. Would you hide under the counter and not show your face when people walk in? Of course not.
It’s no different with Instagram Stories. You have a following, you have people who are connected to you somehow. Show up for them. Say hello. Welcome them. Share who you are, how you can help them or inspire them or bring more beauty into their lives or homes.
I don’t know what to say
Just like what you’re sharing on your Instagram grid and other social networks, you would ideally have a clear intention in what your brand message and vision is.
Then, after this, clarity comes with action. Once you take the first step (which is to simply hop on and welcome your followers), you can start a conversation with your followers. Get to know them, ask them questions using the Question Box, create polls or quizzes, check your insights and analytics to get more info on what your audience likes to see from you.
Again, here, don’t make the mistake of saying and doing what everybody else is doing. Not all things will work for your business and for your specific audience. I always advise to remain true to who you are and to use the tips I provide with a pinch of salt. This means, I want you to feel empowered to doing what feels comfortable to you.
So while I may continue to encourage you to show up on Instagram Stories, if that’s really not what you enjoy at all, or you try it and your audience hates it, no need to continue if it doesn’t work for you. Chances are though, you might surprise yourself… just like some of the 15 modern artisans did after this Visibility Challenge on Instagram Stories.
The lessons learned from visibility
Now I will share about some of the lessons learned during this challenge.
Practice makes it less intimidating
I was surprised that the ones who were the most hesitant to use Instagram Stories to speak to their audience were the ones that quickly became regulars!
Not only did they end up showing almost every day for their audience, but they created meaningful Stories. They used it for doing giveaways, and announcing winners by showing themselves pulling out the winner’s name. Others used it to do behind-the-scenes tour of their atelier, their office, their stockists or shop. Some of them explained their process, the labour behind an art piece, the raw materials used. It was beautiful to watch and heart-warming to witness creatives being their authentic selves, speaking from the heart, and developing a deeper connection with their followers.
Doors open up much quicker
For many of the modern artisans, being visible on Instagram Stories of course led to friendships being formed, collaborations being made, tips being shared, and community being built around your brand.
Success and more leads
Some of the modern artisans felt encouraged and empowered in their creative business journey. The results were also more tangible in the form of more queries, leads, and ultimately conversions from simple followers to paying clients.
Intentionality is key
With increased visibility also comes the increasing need to be strategic and intentional in how you’re showing up. Simply put, being visible to your audience won’t get you closer to your goals without a well defined roadmap on how to get there. There’s a need to stay on brand, as some modern artisans came to understand quite quickly.
On social media, things happen fast. Take a poll for instance. Your followers have 24 hours to answer your poll, and during that time, you’ll need to track the results so you can further down the line use that piece of information within your business operations.
The same applies for any announcements or promise you make on your Instagram Stories. If you’re validating an idea with your niche market, you can get answers pretty quickly. It’s therefore in your best interest to ensure that what you’re sharing aligns with how you want to be represented, and what you want to be known for in terms of either expertise or reputation.
Getting clear on the values of your brand is imperative. You can then show up more confidently with crystal-clear vision and with a purpose. If you don’t do this, and don’t pay attention to how you’re being perceived on Instagram Stories, this could have consequences that perhaps you’re not prepared for.
This was by far the most important lesson that stood out for me as a social media coach and online brand strategist. As with life, I strongly believe in being true to ourselves and aligning with our values and vision. After assessing how this challenge went, I shortly after launched my e-course Intentional Visibility on Instagram Stories. (This course is currently closed and next enrollment will be announced via email in The Salt Gazette - make sure you’re subscribed to get all the details for next time).
Last but not least, another lesson is about community. You get to build a community of loyal fans around your brand by your presence on Instagram Stories. There’s power to start great, meaningful conversations around topics that your dream clients care about. And obviously, that’s fun for you too as you gain more insight into what your audience enjoys hearing from you, or what they’re hoping you’ll talk or post about.
We’ve also found that through this challenge, it brought us all within our group together more. Bonds were formed as one modern artisan followed another, and vice versa. Soon, there were two artisan jewelers being connected within seconds, despite the fact that they live in two different hemispheres ad time zones. There were also artisans who approached other artisans/ makers to commission them for a jewelry piece or macrame artwork. All in all, it was a beautiful thing to witness when people come together.
Isn’t this what we are all after - to be seen, loved, accepted as we are? And the beauty of using social media with heart is doing just that - being social in a way that takes you from your little corner to giving you endless possibilities of connection with other wonderful human beings all over the world.
For collaboration. For compassion. For community.