Why a Social Media Hiatus was Necessary for an Influencer

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Brenda The Ankara Queen

Social media gives us inspiration and ideas Hashtags open us up to a world of similar minds, kindred spirits and our ideal world. How many people do you know who planned part of their wedding via Pinterest?

How about prom gowns? Every millennial seems to walk into a store with a screenshot of an image reflecting their dream dress. How many “Instagram chefs” and “Insta trainers” have inspired your next meal or pumped you up for your summer bod?

We love to get inspired via our various social feeds but what happens to those of us who reap the disadvantages of these tools that used to once inspire us so much? Social media nourished my feelings of insufficiency, jealousy and envy and I, a blogger and influencer who used to “inspire” others, found myself unable to inspire myself.

In 2017, I returned from an extended trip to Cameroon. I had gone to produce several items to launch my website which I knew was going to be revolutionary. I believed my marketing strategy was solid, the pieces were the next best thing and hey, I had a pretty strong following and presence that “liked” my photos so all was set right?

Boy did life show me the hard way that likes do not necessarily translate to purchases. After a month of selling, I noticed a large dip in sales and traffic to my website. How could this be? Why weren’t my items flying off my racks? Why was my apartment still filled with beautiful prints? One month turned into 3, and eventually 4 months of lackluster sales.

I knew in my heart that this was not going to be the walk in the park I thought it would be, and I would need to get a job to be able to afford rent. From the outside, I seemed to be doing well – I was still posting frequently on social media, but on the inside, I was broke, unsure where next month’s rent would be coming from, and getting mad. Mad at who you ask? At my followers!

Now you know you have an issue when you are getting frustrated at people you have never met and who robotically double tap on your photo while going about  their day and looking for The Rock’s latest post. “How dare they pump me up and then not come through for me?” “This photo had 1,000 likes. How come no one has bought the outfit?” These were examples of the thoughts that kept running through my mind. My ego was bruised. In addition to that, my following had stopped growing.

I would go to other bloggers’ pages – ones who I had started out with around the same time, and would notice some were at 50, 000 followers and others 100,000 followers and here I was, 4 years later and still at 21,200. Oh wait, it dropped to 20,800. So I actually lost some followers. That was it.

I was done trying so hard. I was done planning a photoshoot 2 weeks in advance only for the weather to fail me.  I was done moving around with a suitcase full of clothing to change in public restrooms in between takes. I was done with photographers who couldn’t accommodate my low budget for imagery I was used to obtaining at half the price.

I quietly and shamefully backed out of social media. I did not need the sympathy likes, the “but you know social media is people’s best foot forward” pep-talks or even the “girl, you know some people buy likes” encouragement. I just wanted to quietly disappear. I needed to stop doing stuff “for the gram.”

Some people noticed my extended absence. I would occasionally get a message here and there asking if I was okay. I would always eventually respond, even if it was days later. I would open my feed up here and there but would rarely double tap. I felt like a social media zombie until I just stopped opening it altogether.

December 2017 was when I quietly poked my head out from wherever I was hiding. It had taken me about 3 months of normal living and lots of reflection to come to terms with the fact that I had developed an unhealthy relationship with social media. I had forgotten the original reason I had started blogging. I was no longer having fun! I was trying to keep up. I thought I had it under control, but, clearly, I did not.

After December’s post, I went quiet again for some weeks to really make sure I was mentally prepared to re-emerge in 2018. I had to make sure I would be adding value to both my life and my audiences’ and also be comfortable taking a step back, if I saw myself getting sucked in once more.

Now, I post what I like, and I don’t delete it even if it got 64 likes versus the 2,000 likes the other image amassed. I share what I want to share whether it is taboo or not. I’ve been able to let go a little and just enjoy taking photos and getting dressed once more. I can’t say that I won’t be gone again in the future. But at least now I know that it’s okay to not feel okay, to do something about it, and to come back when I’m back to me. ☺

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