by Jenna Kutcher
Tune In: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Stitcher
It can feel awkward and narcissistic and exhausting to try and show up on Instagram in the middle of a crisis and it can leave us second guessing every post… You might’ve found yourself wondering these same things over the past month or so: am I being insensitive? Am I invoking fear or panic? Am I an expert in this subject? Am I adding something truly helpful to the noise of social media right now?
All of these thoughts can make us shrink away or just frankly make us want to log off and call it a day. I know because I’ve battled the same internal dilemma myself. I’ve wondered if I should or shouldn’t post about the small joys I’m finding every day. I’ve wondered if certain things might come across as tone deaf or privileged. But the thing that I keep coming back to is this: in the middle of unknown, humans crave normalcy.
We want to have real conversations about what’s happening, AND what we’re doing to get through it without going nuts. We want to see and hear how others are coping — yes, the good things that are happening and also the challenges they’re navigating. And sometimes we just want to flat out forget about the chaos and unknowns and escape for a hot minute.
Just because the world is paused around us doesn’t mean we don’t yearn for the same connection, joy, interactions, and realness that “normal” life brings about. In fact, it’s my belief that we need to share these little intricate normalcies NOW more than ever. To show that life does continue on. To show that the only way out is through, and that doesn’t mean going radio silent and holing yourself up. It means showing up, with your raw emotions and your honest opinions and your crazy ideas and your hopeful stories, your offers, literally just hitting publish can be a game and a mood changer.
I can promise you that if you’re able to do that, to show up, it won’t be awkward or narcissistic or anything else that little voice trying to hold you down keeps whispering in your ear. It’ll actually create more light in your corner of the internet, and light is what we all need right now.
So if you’ve been finding yourself tiptoeing around social media these days, not sure where to start or what to say, and how to say it, this is for you. Let’s chat about the 5 ways you can show up well for your people in this season.
The number one place to start might sound impossibly simple, but we tend to overcomplicate things when life and the world get a bit nutty. So start by being honest. That’s it. Be honest about all the mixed feelings you’re having. If you’re rocking your social distancing and feel super grateful to be able to continue life semi-normally right now, share that! If you’re experiencing fear and anxiety and grief, then share that. What have your days looked like? What are you working on or working through?
And then… ask your audience what they’d like to see from you. If you’re feeling analysis paralysis about what to talk about, and how to address it all in the “right” way, that’s totally normal with all the chaos and unknown happening. But instead of staying frozen, talk about it and open up room for dialogue and feedback.
Simply addressing what many are feeling is freeing and allows for you to expand out of the current situation we’re facing. A lot of people feel alone right now and are extra-aware of their emotions. When the world is isolated, we as business owners have the opportunity to share from the heart and connect with an audience that’s feeling out of sorts. Addressing what’s happening, and how you’re walking through it, good and bad, will resonate with the RIGHT people.
On this same topic, if you need to sell right now, just know that is totally acceptable and understandable. Small businesses all around the world are working to continue making ends meet and to approach their offers in a way that’s sensitive and timely. You can sell with compassion by making sure your marketing and messaging suits the climate!
How does your offer help or serve others in all this craziness? Why is it worth their hard earned money in this unknown time? Get really CLEAR on the importance of your offer and make sure you are serving 3x more than you are selling. For every piece of sales content you push out, you should have at least 3 service based, helpful, or encouraging pieces of content that serves your people at no cost or that simply adds joy to their lives.
The next way to show up for your people on Instagram right now is another super simple one. Dig into your archives or your camera roll and post content from there. There’s no better time than right now to scroll through your camera roll and find moments that spark joy, moments that never made it to the ‘gram and share them now. You don’t have to pay for a fresh photoshoot, you don’t have to worry about changing out of your sweats, you don’t have to put really ANY effort into it, find the oldies but goodies.
Think about it, maybe about 1% of your photos ever get shared on Instagram, so dig deep and share the story behind an old photo. It will be a little escape from the present day stresses, a good creative challenge for you. Plus everyone loves a little step back into different times that maybe all your current followers haven’t all seen or heard about before. This is ALSO a great challenge for business owners to share photos of your work or to recycle posts you’ve shared in the past and bring your work front of mind.
We live in such a world that we begin to believe that lie that if we don’t share something it didn’t happen which forces us to thrust our memories out onto the world wide web without having enough disconnection from the actual moment to ask ourselves: why does this matter? What is the story behind this? Who could this post or story serve? Since everyone’s real time moments are probably all looking the same right now: at home, in your pjs, trying to stay productive, use this opportunity to be a better storyteller and share moments that never made the cut.
If you’re struggling with what to say or writing captions right now, use other people’s words! Challenge yourself to share testimonials and good words from clients or straight up customer reviews. It doesn’t always feel natural to cheer for ourselves or market ourselves in this way but sharing the positive feedback is a great way to spread the word about your business as well as infuse some more goodness into your feed so it’s not all quarantine this and coronavirus that.
Serve and Educate
The third way to show up well right now is by serving your audience and educating them on something interesting or new. In what ways can you teach, encourage, give helpful advice, lead, set an example, shed insight, or serve your followers?
To put it simply, since I know you’re thinking: I’m not an educator. What do you know that would benefit someone else to know too? Share that. Seriously, it doesn’t have to be produced or perfect. Jump on Instagram Stories, jump on Facebook, take photos, share the process or the steps or the shortcut or the advice.
There has never been a better time for you to simply focus on serving your audience. What questions do they have? What have they been wondering? What keeps them up at night? Now is a great time to hone in on your skill of educating, teaching, enlightening, and serving your people.
More people are on their phones, scrolling endlessly for new, fresh and interesting content now than ever before. Jump on IGTV to do a mini-class or series of workshops to teach your followers something new, do an Instagram LIVE to share more off the cuff and casual service-related content, or even do a few Stories a day to share how you’re coping, what you’re learning, or interesting tips and takeaways that you think your followers would find useful.
Number four is to just entertain for the sake of joy! Just because the world is going through a collectively traumatic experience doesn’t mean we don’t want to see humor, lightness, or fun. In fact, we all likely need those things now more than ever! It’s a way to escape reality and to remember that there’s still good in a world that’s hurting.
I literally googled, “Funny Memes” the other night just to get a good laugh in. People are out there hunting joy down and joining TikTok or binging Netflix series in order to experience content that are more lighthearted, so maybe you can be another beaming light source for them when it comes to joy.
Whether it’s a funny meme, an empowering quote, a silly gif, a joke, a photo of your cute baby, a story that made you laugh out loud, like that real, soul filling gut laughter… you can light the path for joy in this season and add a smile to someone else’s day so easily by sharing what you find joy in.
My final tip for being present online these days is to simply show your real life, the behind the scenes, unglamorous, real-deal nitty gritty, not filter added shots of your day to day living.
I’m noticing a trend right now that people want to see other people IN it. They want the real life, the messy, the imperfect moments unfolding while we’re all stuck inside. You don’t have to wait for a day where you put on makeup to hop on Instagram stories, and the cleanliness of your house shouldn’t dictate what you choose to show.
I’d challenge you that the makeup-free, messy-home kinds of days are the ones the majority of your audience relate to in this current season, and they’re way more captivating than the prim and proper. I just feel like we’re hungry for REAL and to know that others are in this with us, we’re not alone.
I actually think this bit will get you the most engagement, because we’re all looking for “whew, me too” moments where we feel less alone and more a part of something bigger than ourselves. I connect so, so much more with those who share what’s going on, the good and bad and ugly, regardless of how things appear.
It’s why I think we’re getting away from so much of a pristine feed and more into IG stories that share real moments, no matter how messy they are. Have you noticed this transition too? So it might not feel totally normal or natural, but I think it’s needed in this climate to show up just as you are and it’s a good challenge for all of us.
Your audience will likely feel a little more okay that they aren’t the only ones without instagram-perfect homes and lives these days — or any day, if we’re being honest.
The Big Picture
Be honest, pull from the archives, focus on service, add joy, and keep it real. I hope you take from this that you don’t have to have everything figured out to be able to show up for your followers on social media in this time of uncertainty. We’re all just doing the best we can and so pull back the curtains on YOUR moments, mishaps, and learning curves. That’s what will positively impact your people and position you as someone who’s real and reliable and relatable, even though none of us have all the next steps from this situation quite yet.
Present is better than perfect — and WAY better than complete silence. Show your unkempt behind the scenes, teach what you yourself are learning. Give bits of encouragement that are lifting YOU up, dig into old images and tell stories, and just be there as a source of light and realness in this funky season.
As wild and scary as these times are, find comfort in knowing your voice and presence is important. It’s powerful and it’s needed, and it doesn’t need to be pristine to be so entirely valuable and helpful. Until next time, keep on digging your biggest goals.