This little blog is celebrating its 9th birthday this month. Nine years! It sounds like a long time but actually it has gone by in a blink. From creating the blog when I hesitated for a week before hitting the publish button, to the first comment left by a reader and then to the surprising doors that have opened because of the blog, it has been quite a ride. And a large part of this has been via social media.
I started the blog as an experiment, and as a lot of you know, a way to reinvent myself as the prospect of an empty nest loomed large. Using Blogger for the first few years as I learnt how to use a computer (!) and how to create a blog, how to leave comments and so on. I followed the ‘good blogger guides’ and of course I was lucky to find some very generous fellow bloggers who started to put me on their blog reading list and gave me a shoutout.
Everyone told me I had to be on Facebook, and then Pinterest and then Instagram. Today those platforms are so much a part of our daily lives it is hard to realise that most of us have only been active on social media for a few years.
It has become a vital piece of my blog and business, as a way to connect with readers and clients. Though I must say, that Social media and its importance in our real living can easily get out of proportion. Who hasn’t rolled their eyes at the sight of a family sitting down to a meal, with each person staring at a screen instead of talking to each other?! We all know it’s more important to talk to real people than a screen! So, I try to keep a balance, turning the notifications off on my phone, and only checking in a few times a day. But the fact is that Instagram has become the quickest way to find out more about a brand, a person or even your neighbour! But what are the right lines to tread?
I don’t consider myself to be an expert on social media, but I am often asked about running an Instagram page, or building up a following on Instagram or Facebook. For many it’s a way of sharing with friends and nothing more. For brands it is a vital showroom window and for a blogger and business owner like me it’s important and it’s also fun.
So here, in honour of my blogging birthday, and because I hope you’ll let me know how you like to use your social media, are a few rules that I try to follow:
- The blog. The blog has been my doorway to my books, my tours, the box and now the magazine. I love the blog, and love that I have such long term and generous readers who often share with me. The blog remains my main identity despite the other stuff that happens here.
- On Instagram I try to post good photos, normally a direct reflection of what I am doing that day. I often stop my car to take a shot, and I always have a camera or my phone with me, just in case. Instagram is such a fantastic platform for sharing visuals, it is so quick and easy to look at and like pictures. Of course there is a lot of talk about algorithms, and rules to follow, but personally I don’t have the patience to keep up with the ever moving goalposts. I simply post one picture a day, and I try to make it a good one!
- For Pinterest – there are different ways of using Pinterest. As a scrapbook and incredible resource for ideas when we have a room to decorate, or a garden design to work on; Pinterest is the best for inspiration! For drawing new visitors to a website it is also a great tool. If your photos on your website are good then they’ll be pinned; other people will see them and click to find out where they came from, and hopefully if they like what they find when they land on your page then they’ll stick around.
- Facebook is a different animal, and we can use it in many ways. There is the purely social and family aspect of keeping people informed about what is going on in your life. The practical aspect of rallying support and interest to a particular event, and the business aspect of giving your brand added credibility. I’ve been very fortunate on Facebook, in finding a large audience who like my pictures. I only post my own material, and more often I just add a picture without any text. We also share our blogposts on Facebook, and it’s a great way to give a second showing to older blogposts that readers have never seen, or are happy to see again.
There you have it! I think my overall rules are : use my own photos; be consistent and always be positive. I never use my social media for anything personal, but that’s just because I like to keep my private life separate. We each do what we are comfortable with.
So now I’ve told you how I juggle in this brave new world, how about you? Is social media an important part of your life today? And if so, is that a surprise to you? Do tell me please, I’d love to know.