You Don't Want to Go Viral

woman in green shirt on brick wall discussing viral reels on Instagram

Wait, are you sure?

For those of you who use social media actively and follow some of the so called "experts", you might be thinking, "Dorie, you have lost your mind."  But hear me out.

About 6 weeks ago I had a little reel about GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome - not the other kind of gas) gain significant traction on my Instagram Page.  This was, in my mind, a dumb little video that I recorded in my kitchen one day that I never even intended to release.  Well, I got desperate for some content one day, so I reluctantly put that video out thinking that it would fade off into social media archives and would probably only be seen by a hundred people.  

But I was so wrong. . . 

Immediately after I posted that reel, nothing happened.  It got a few likes and plays so I figured "oh well, another reel that tanked, no big deal.  It wasn't my best and I will create something better later this week."   

Then a few days later, I started getting quite a few notifications on my phone saying people were liking this reel.  It was odd because I always felt that if something was going to go viral it would happen right away.  But that wasn't the case. I didn't think too much of it until I opened Instagram after sitting in church and I had hundreds of notifications from this particular reel.  And they just kept coming in, for days.  And when then died down, a few weeks later they picked up again.  

As of writing this email to you that reel has been played over 261 thousand times, received over 7,146 likes, 261 comments, over 1,000 new followers, and countless personal messages.

Sounds great, right?  

But here is the thing.  My Instagram account is for my photography coaching business.  My goal is to attract English speaking photographers who want to grow their businesses. NOT for selling my gear or for my photographer studio.  And definitely NOT for young men in Africa who "want to get to know me better" OR have me send them one of my cameras for free. My reel, for the most part has attracted a large following of people who are not my ideal client.  

Yes, it has been great for the vanity metrics of my small account, but it didn't provide an avenue for me to gain anymore clients to my coaching business.  

 A vanity metric or "engagement metric" is a measurement that makes you look and feel good but doesn't contribute to the goal of the company financially or strategically.  That is exactly what happened with this reel.  It was fun to watch and exciting to see it at work but it contributed nothing to the ultimate goal of my coaching business.

When you are approaching your social media, do you have a strategy in mind?  Do you know who you want to talk to?  Do you create content with that person in mind?  Do you only follow trends without providing real substance to help your prospective client?  Are you copying others templates, captions, and formulas without creating something that is truly unique to you? 

Social Media is a powerful thing and we should be using it to our best advantage.  It is hard not to get caught up in the dances, trends, and vanity of it all.   But once you figure out how it can be best used to your advantage, it can also bring you a ton of business.  I forgot all about that when I poste that reel.  That video has no place on my account.  It was about camera gear.  I don't talk about gear.  It attracted all the wrong kind of attention and took me off my path.  (Except for the fact that I have this experience that I can talk to you about now.)

Viral Reels, do not bring in a ton of business.  Having a lot of photographers follow you, will not bring an a ton of business.  Participating in only trends will not bring you a ton of business.  What will?

Real authentic content that draws people to you because of what you offer and how you offer it.  It is all about your content.  

That is the trend you need to follow in 2023.  Not the trending songs, not the dances, not the pointing, etc. . . UNLESS you find a way to incorporate those things AND provide your ideal client with something that will help them.  That is the winning combination.

So how is your Social Media Strategy shaping up for the new year?  Do you have a plan?  A way to attract the people you want and need to attract without getting desperate and just throwing anything up because you need to post something?  


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