Chasing numbers and social media burnout had been on my mind for a few days and it’s not the first time either.
Years ago I had a creative blog for 3 years which I stopped writing. Originally it was called ‘Not Just a Mummy’ when I first started college and changed it to ‘Canvas and Thread’ when I started to establish myself as an artist. Then someone decided to use that as their website name without clearly doing any research. I didn’t have the time or energy for it anymore when I was in my last year at university and I felt it had run its course. I was so caught up in tracking the views and promoting and then my dissertation zapped all my time.
I’ve have had so many different art accounts to promote my work I struggled to keep track of where I was and which I had updated. It was always about the numbers game, it wasn’t all that enjoyable when it started to become about the numbers and less about the engagement so I just cut my losses and deleted the blog which I do not regret doing. Although I am obviously blogging again now sometimes posts will be read when the subject matter is relevant to the right person at the right time and therefore I don’t beat myself up about the numbers at the end of the month.
I now mostly use Instagram; it’s a brilliant way to share visual snapshots of my work and studio. I also like to be able to see what other artists are up to and what galleries are showing.
Why the Burnout?
I was following nearly 1500 people on Instagram but seeing the same 10 -15 accounts all the time. The algorithms were only showing the same few accounts based on my usual clicks, likes or views whether that was in my feed or the stories across the top so it was a bit like a vicious circle; I am only seeing the people who I interact with the most but who has time to view every single account so you don’t miss anything? I became fed up, it was the same on my personal account too and I stopped using it so much.
This week I have cleaned up my Instagram social media and it is now working much better for me and I do not feel guilty for what I have done!
Where had I gone wrong?
· I had started to follow lots of hashtags so these were showing regularly in my feed; I didn’t need to see them all the time so I unfollowed, I can always use the search option.
· At some point I started to think of my art as more of a business to promote and started to follow a lot of accounts based on marketing and branding but I never really clicked with them as they were not right for me.
· There were a lot of accounts based on lots of varied personal interests that I was already following on my private personal account and I didn’t need to like and follow them twice.
· There were a few accounts that had become spam accounts or my Instagram had followed them on my behalf somehow because I wouldn’t have opted to follow them.
· I had a think again about what I wanted from my feed; to see artists, galleries, projects and other accounts I know who are local or that are relevant to me.
· Once I unfollowed everything that wasn’t right for me I instantly started to see accounts I hadn’t seen for a long time
· It reminded me that as a creative person I didn’t need to be posting more than once a day or even everyday like other marketing people were saying to do, I need time to create and have breaks so that I had something to show
· Having a regular ‘cleanse’ meant I discovered and got rid of spam looking accounts
· I have more time by not having so much to scroll through
Why do I not feel guilty?
· It worked, my feed had become so congested I was missing what I really wanted
· I looked at every account before I unfollowed and I found that those who were promoting something usually had more followers than they were following. They had a lot of people who liked their product but clearly didn’t do follow for follow.
· I have never done the follow for follow, thanks if you like my art and want to stick around but I find a lot of promotional accounts (businesses and bands) unfollow if you don’t follow them back and you are not obliged to follow them because they like you. I noticed my numbers drop a small amount when I was sorting my account but then that’s where you have follow for follow people.
· My circle feels smaller but more positive; the constant marketing posts made me feel like a failure and not enjoying the creative process so much if I continuously thought of the end product
What about other social media?
I use Pinterest A LOT! As a visual person it just works for me, I have my boards of inspiration all sorted according to categories I want and I have my own work on there too. Anything not art related I keep private. I don’t see it as a social thing so much as I don’t look at the follower feed often or chat with anyone. However what I did find helpful was to follow individual boards over whole accounts unless you like every topic someone has created a board for, I found myself spending a lot of time unfollowing every board I that wasn’t my niche. Many people follow the odd 1 or 2 boards of mine rather than all of them and that is absolutley fine and Pinterest now promote ‘boards like yours’ which is helpful. Again it comes down to organising what you want to see.
On Facebook I have an art page that has just over 500 fans, I share my blog posts there and a few images and promoting of exhibitions I’m in. I don’t rate Facebook very well as the statistics tell me that my reach can vary from 0 to less than 100 and they continuously try and get me to pay to reach more people. I can only assume they are purposefully not showing my posts so I pay which I refuse to do. Another artist I know did this and they found the unpaid reach was getting worse and got into a habit of having to pay every time when sharing. I am debating whether its worth keeping this account.
I used to have a Twitter account with the first blog, I followed everything creative that was local to me but the feed moved so fast I missed a lot and my posts were missed by others.
Different accounts work for different people and there may be platforms out there that are great and I haven’t discovered yet, maybe what works now won’t work in the future. Regularly reviewing what we want from them seems to be the way to go before we burn out trying to keep up with them all.