Is Instagram worth it? Is it right for my blog, my business and me?
If you follow this blog you may have noticed that I’ve been away on a mini digital detox. I say ‘mini’ as it’s been more about limiting my screen time rather than a full on, cold turkey black out. I’ve scaled back my Instagram as it’s been harming my blog, my business and me.
We all know about the dangers of social media, and especially Instagram, on our mental health.
Endless scrolling without much interaction doesn’t really lead to much of a positive impact on mental health and wellbeing – Niamh McDade, Royal Society for Public Health
Is Instagram worth it?
The main reason I scaled back my Instagram was the amount of time I was wasting. Spending so much time uploading my stories, I was losing out on the fun stuff about which my stories were about. How about posting a photo of me updating my Instagram? And in the meantime, please can I just eat my goddamn avocado?
Instagram: the social media pyramid scheme
There are many many very successful bloggers who make a killer living out of their Instagram accounts.
But take a look at how they’re so successful. Perhaps they’re selling an Instagram mentoring scheme, a Lightroom tutorial or a photo styling course. They’re selling what they’re selling. It’s all a bit Emperor’s new clothes for me.
Blogging vs Instagram in 2019
If you’re just starting out blogging ask yourself what is the best way to use Instagram to increase your blog traffic? My answer? Use it less.
Of course there are some great bloggers out there for whom Instagram is the bread and butter of their readership. Many high profile fashion, beauty and adventure bloggers use Instagram very successfully. Some don’t even have a blog and use Instagram alone as a media outlet and revenue stream.
If, however, you started your blog fairly recently, like me, you’ll no doubt have much more success by concentrating first on SEO.
SEO isn’t sexy, but it pays. Since I scaled back my Instagram I’ve been researching Google keywords and I’ve been paying closer attention to my Yoast. I’ve been really been thinking about what my readers want to read. My traffic has increased and brands have come to me asking for sponsored posts. The Expater is still relatively small, and I have a long, long way to go, but it’s starting to pay off, no thanks to Instagram.
Instagram, when used smartly can contribute towards the SEO end goal. But for me at least, I find concentrating on Instagram at the expense of other outlets a risky business.
Follow the reader, not the brand
Of course some brands only care about Instagram followers, but I think they’re missing a trick. While some Instagram accounts have thousands of followers (including bots?), how many users will actually read the post, click the link and buy the product?
Since I’ve been focusing more on SEO, some great brands have collaborated with me on sponsored posts and it seems follower numbers are not their priority.
Is Instagram better than Facebook?
Is Instagram better than Facebook? Not for me. I find far more of my niche audience via Facebook and targeted SEO than through pretty pictures on Instagram. Personally, I get a much higher click conversion rate from Google and Facebook than from Instagram. I also find out about brands and do lots of useful research for my freelance writing on Twitter.
Of course, if your reader is an avid Instagram user and they’ll not only click through to your blog, but also the links within it, then that’s great. But my advice? Don’t concentrate too much on Instagram and risk ignoring other traffic streams.
Is Instagram worth it for your reader?
If you have an older demographic of customers, then it’s possible that Instagram isn’t for you. After all, how will they ever come across your Instagram posts if they’re not on there in the first place? How about if they use Instagram, but wouldn’t dream of clicking through to a link or checking up on stories?
My average reader is aged 27-45, but most are in their mid to late thirties, like me. My readers are typically expat women who are internet savvy and will research their new move abroad very well. They’re adept at using Google and Facebook for country research, but they might not be on Instagram. They’re concerned about data security, especially with their children in mind.
I’m not saying over 35s don’t use Instagram. I’m not saying they’ll never use it. But it’s important to identify who your reader is and what media they prefer.
What’s your goal?
Now, if your goal is not traffic or click throughs, but generally building your brand, then Instagram might still be useful for you. If however, like me, your focus is on building your brand, then I reckon you shouldn’t be using Instagram at the expense of other platforms.
Instagram is of course very image-heavy, with few links through to your site (apart from the link in your profile bio). Consequently, unless your name is Kim Kardashian, it’s unlikely to drive many visitors directly to your site. Other platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter, might be better.
Scheduling my time
It’s easy to aimlessly post and scroll on any social media platform. But I’m a busy mother of three and I no longer have so much time on my hands. Now I’m really trying to focus hard on what pays. Posting targeted SEO content on my blog is paying its way much more than Instagram ever has.
Is Instagram worth it for you?
I’m not giving up on Instagram just yet. It still drives traffic to my site and it’s useful, visual way for building my brand. I’m still exploring all it has to offer.
All I’m saying is, do it for your blog, do it for your business, do it for you… just don’t do it for Instagram.