Earlier this week, I saw a post on Instagram from an author and creator I follow where she said:
“Last summer I decided if I was going to stay on this app, I was going to have fun on this app. I ignored all the “rules” and started posting way more. It’s been THE MOST FUN.”
I’ve interviewed Elise Blaha Cripe twice before (here and here), and have followed her work years prior and since on her Instagram account. I do remember her talking about this last summer, and have watched her change how she uses Instagram since then. What I have seen can be described in one word: joy. Elise is sharing her joy every week on Instagram.
So what does “fun” look like for Elise? Well, I suppose if someone had to describe her in one word, it might be that she is a maker. She does these incredible projects, one after another, sometimes on top of one another! Want an example? A few weeks back, she decided to learn how to reupholster a chair on her own, from scratch. In the 70 posts she has shared since then on this project, she has shown every step of the process via photos and videos:
Now, maybe you think reupholstering is fun, maybe you don’t. But what I have found on the internet is that so many people (me included) feel a sense of curiosity and satisfaction in watching people take on big projects, and working toward their completion. Elise started out blogging in 2005, you can still see her first posts here. In that time, she has developed and honed her communication skills through writing, photos, and videos. Plus, she published a book along the way!
But since last summer when she made that decision to have fun, I’ve seen her show up more on Instagram, not less. She has been fully showing up in embracing her projects and sharing the details of them. I haven’t tracked her “follower growth” or “audience engagement,” but I’ve seen her express personal fulfillment over these months, which she was reflecting on this week as well. The other day, she sat in her car and talked in amazement about how the tools she has today have made it so easy — and so fun — for her to share. Tools she didn’t have years ago:
“I can’t stop thinking about this, how much easier it is to create content in 2023, than in 2005. I couldn’t even begin to share the way that I share now, back then. It would have taken days to create these little videos. The editing, the music. Not to mention that my [back then] camera was so bad. I just want to acknowledge how much more fun it is to make content now… I’m grateful to have this excitement about making stuff, and sharing it on the internet.”
I mean, look how happy she is! This is something I have been considering for myself. On a whim, I decided to create one Instagram Reel every day for 30 days. Now, I’ve done plenty of Reels before, which are one-minute videos, but I never fully embraced them. I was curious what I would learn if I did one a day for awhile. In truth: I’m learning a lot!
At first, it felt difficult to teach a concept within 60 seconds. But after a week or so, I find that has become dramatically easier. Day by day, I’ve honed a style that works for me, which means my process from ideation, to recording, to posting has gotten way quicker in the last week or two. I’m also making small improvements here or there, adding a cover slide with a clear title, and knowing exactly where to position that title so that it shows up well in my feed. Day by day, I’ve gone from questioning: “Is it really worth my time to do Reels?” to instead feeling: “This is fun!”
But of course, the best part is the comments from writers who are finding them helpful. That is my mission, and it’s nice to embrace a new way to live that mission through these daily one-minute videos.
If you are hoping to make social media more fun for yourself, here are some tips:
- Stop worrying about the algorithm. Why create an adversary over something you can’t see, you can’t have a relationship with, and promises that it will change unexpectedly at any moment. Don’t try to game the system, or find “maximum ROI (return on investment)”, or spend hours discovering “best practices.” Focus instead on what you love doing and who you love connecting with.
- Forget about trends. Just focus on what gives you joy. To me, this is one of the big positive lessons of the social media age. Some of my favorite people to follow have these very niche interests, but they believe in them passionately. It’s a real joy to follow them.
- Share frequently. Show up in the lives of your readers. People feel a connection to those who show up in their lives often. This happens in the workplace, and in the communities we live. It happens online too. Oh, and this may ask challenging questions about how we show up for our craft. For instance: if I want to be known as a writer, it the concept of sharing frequently begs the question: how often do I write? How often do I work on my craft? Once I answer that, I can consider easy and fun ways to share that.
- Be focused on one topic, or a small range of topics. Double down on what you are truly passionate about and do all the time.
- Set boundaries: you don’t have to share everything! You don’t have to share your outfits or your kids or your home or your meals. Share what you want to share.
- Be helpful. Or be fun. Or be inspiring. Consider the feeling you want people to have when they see what you share, and how what you share would truly make someone’s day, or be a small respite within it.
- Find small moments of engagement or connection with real people. Don’t worry about the numbers.