Never before has it mattered more what the story of your life looks like, right down to preset details and perfectly arranged mochas on cafe tables.  Instagram is officially dictating behavior, intention, social currency, trends and for a lot of us, how we monetize anything we are doing.

Unsplash: Nathan Dumlao

Unsplash: Nathan Dumlao

Lately it's hard to avoid a conversation that has to do with engagement, Follows, Likes, algorithm and updates.  The collective "insiders" conversation, based solely on speculation, makes claims about what we should and shouldn't be doing in order to avoid shadow banning, increase our engagement, get more Followers and Likes, etc. and much of what I read is cynical, fear-based or part of a detailed program that you have to invest in in order to gain access and wisdom.

Frankly, if all that I read mattered it would be hard to know what to do and it's no surprise that many of my students are asking me for advice.  "Should we put the hashtags in the caption or comments section now?"  "But some hashtags are now banned by Instagram, right?"  "How do we know which hashtags to use and which ones are banned?"  "I just read that Instagram doesn't like comment PODs and accounts participating in them could be shadow banned." "Should I be commenting more than a few words on posts I like, I've heard just a few words or an emoji does't count and Instagram thinks it's bot behavior." And the list goes on, and on, and on...and with each update we jump through more and more hoops, all based on speculation.

Unsplash: Jason Rosewell

Unsplash: Jason Rosewell

The truth is we have limited information from the source.  The truth is the platform is free and we have no control over it. The truth is Instagram has access to our behavior on the platform.  

And the truth is you have control over you, and the content you share, and with whom you engage, and how you feel about the platform, and what vibration you attach to it, and what intentions for using it you use.  And the truth is, if you focus on the things you do have control over the space becomes much more pleasant and the other issues start to fade away.

New York Times Columnist, Carl Richards "Behavior Gap"

New York Times Columnist, Carl Richards "Behavior Gap"

Here is my current advice for helping to make your daily Instagram experience more pleasant:

1.  Focus on the Followers you already have, and not on the Followers you wish you had.

2.  Every day choose 5 faithful Followers who constantly show you love and send love back to them.  Or, look through your Followers list and pick 10 Followers to engage with in a meaningful way.  Or, choose one Follower a week to email or call, just to say hello. (Imagine, real connection!) 

3.  Once a week choose a handful of accounts that you love and share these with your community in your Story telling why you are inspired by the account.

4.  Post "Hell Yes" content every single day.  Be so proud of your posts that every Like and Comment is icing on the cake.

5.  Limit your Gram time daily, and be intentional about what you do with it.  Most branded work can be done in 30-60 minutes.  Notice how much time you are spending and exactly what you are doing on the platform.

6.  Be mindful of Instagram's demographic (18-24 year olds, mostly outside of the US...) and find ways to create your own Universe within it.  Let this personal Universe be everything to you when you are on the platform.

7.  Diversify.  I worry about anyone who has everything riding on their Instagram account, that goes for what you are monetizing and/or creating and how the platform makes you feel daily.

8.  Have a No Gram Day once a week.

9.  Follow Instagram and engage with their content.  I especially like the #WHP (Weekend Hashtag Project) every weekend, it's a great way to spread your wings and be reminded of the original intention of the "moment sharing" platform.

10.  Rethink any investment you are making in anything or anyone that is hired to do these 9 things for you.

I ask myself one question every day, if today is the day that Instagram no longer existed how would my life change? Maybe ask yourself this question to gauge where you are with the platform, and where your brand, time, energy,

If you have a question about anything I've written above please leave it in the Comments below and I'll reply with an answer.  If you are interested in learning more about The Hell Yes Academy and the work that I do with students please take a look at the Academy Page.  If you know someone who might like this article or find the advice and wisdom to be helpful please share it with them.

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