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:wave: Hey hey, I'm Michael Lee and this is my site about being a developer, being a dad and making side projects.

How I let greed mess up my Instagram experience

Written on February 20, 2016

I really enjoy using Instagram. I remember when Instagram first appeared, I jumped on it quickly, because it felt like such a natural social media platform for mobile. The main purpose of my Instagram feed is simply to record life. I’ve got photos on my account of when I was dating my wife and would visit her in Germany, I’ve got photos of when I decided to go back to college for the third time, I’ve got photos of friends and places I’ve visited and lately my feed is consumed by my cute kids.

A couple of weeks ago, I started to share through different platforms about the book that I’m writing. Mainly through my site, Twitter and the awesome Jekyll community at the official forum. In the process of getting the word out about my book, I thought I’d give Instagram a shot. Being a visual platform, I thought putting up a picture of my book cover I thought it would be a no brainer.

The only problem was all my Instagram followers are friends who aren’t my target audience. The strategy that I decided to take was to hop on and hope that I could reach out to other like-minded folks via relevant hashtags. I did my research and found ten or so hashtags that I thought was relevant, wrote up a good description of my book, changed the link in my bio to the landing page of my book, uploaded a graphic of my book cover and hit submit.

Immediately after hitting submit I felt like something wasn’t right. At first I shrugged off the feeling and reassured myself that getting folks to sign up for my mailing list was the right thing to do…this was marketing and that it was just part of the game. Likes came in, folks left comments and I think I got a couple of sign ups as a result. Nothing I would consider viral or a great return on investment. But what also lingered was the feeling of I shouldn’t have used Instagram to market my book.

The thoughts that went through my head was first of my kids. My account for the most part has always been public. This is because I enjoy sharing life as it is. As a father I am most proud of my kids and hope the stories I share with these photos resonates with other fathers to do the same.

Not everyone that follows me are friends that I’ve actually met in person. Some are strangers but for the most part prior to sharing about the book on my account I was ok with that. But after I had shared my book, I honestly got a little paranoid. All of a sudden I was intentionally drawing the attention of strangers to my feed and that just didn’t feel right. This paranoia led to me blocking some accounts and changing my account to private.

What also bothered me was the fact that I wasn’t being consistent with the story which I was telling with my account. Take it I’m not really being that intentional with the story that I do tell on Instagram. But I think the overall theme that is consistent is that my feed is about my life and family. And folks who follow me have signed up for that. Compared to photos of my cute baby or son, the book post got maybe a handful of likes from my friends who have been following my account for some time.

I’m pretty sure the folks who have been following my feed for some time probably couldn’t care but I felt like that I had did something slimebally for the sake of marketing my book and getting likes. Sorry friends. On the flip side, I think I was also doing a disservice to the folks who did find my post about the book and came to my profile and started following me. Not really knowing what might’ve been the trigger in prompting them to follow me but I’m sure they decided to follow because they saw I was a programmer and was writing about a particular piece of software.

They might’ve started following because they thought I’d post up more things about programming or my book. But after the one post about my book, it was back to the regular scheduled programming…photos of my family life. So I’m pretty sure they got a dose of what the heck? His kids are cute and all but I kind of want to hear more about his book or programming.

After mulling over this for a few weeks. I decided to be more intentional with my Instagram account. In that I want to put sharing my life back as the theme of my account and not use it as a way to straight up garner more likes or funnel folks into some email sign up. I think photos of progress of screenshots or coding will be ok from time to time since that is part of my life. But for the most part, the story I’d like to tell is of this work-from-home dad, with two awesome kids and a super awesome wife that he gets to do life with.

Prior to writing this post, I changed up my profile description to, “Work from home dad, that loves to eat pizza” because I feel like that is more consistent to what I’d like to share on my account. So if you’re following me on Instagram, it’s back to pictures of my kids and probably more photos of me eating pizza. I’ve also deleted the post of my book. I’ve realized that it just doesn’t fit into the theme of my story on Instagram and have made my account public again.

This ordeal has definitely taught me a lesson that I don’t have to follow some marketing trend to market my book. I just need to find ways that are unique to me and aligns with what I feel comfortable about marketing.

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