WHY YOUR BLOG AND WEBSITE PRESENCE IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVER

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Sometimes I really, really wish the things I predict don’t come true. But unfortunately, it seems my social media crystal ball was right when back in September last year I wrote a blog post sharing my concerns about the future of Instagram, including my hunch Instagram would implement an algorithm similar to that on Facebook, why you shouldn’t put all your eggs into one basket and why your blog and website presence is more important than ever. Well I was right. Not sure what this means? Put simply, Instagram (which is owned by Facebook btw) are kissing chronological content goodbye in favour for content that they think is best for you. This means you will no longer see the most recent content, as they will start putting up old content first and kick off content they don’t think is best for you.

I’ve already got a few thoughts on how to get around this, but what is really worrying is how does Instagram defines my and your “best content”? Insert: algorithm. I am not an expert but I know they will soon want us bidding financially for “best content” space through advertising. Um, no thanks. How do they really know what I like and what I don’t like on Instagram? Just because I don’t click the little love heart on every photo I browse past, doesn’t mean I don’t think it’s the best content. I have a huge issue with this!

In fact, you may have realised in one of the more recent updates on Instagram that the time of a photo being posted is now located underneath your last comment. And it’s a hell of a lot smaller. Well played Instagram. So in the spirit of Instagram, below are six reasons why your blog and website presence is more important than ever plus a couple of tips for the future!

WE RENT SOCIAL MEDIA We don’t own any social media platform and that means we effectively rent it, for the most part for free, so a little bit of me feels like we shouldn’t complain too much. However, why not? We’re the ones who make these social media platforms famous. But because we don’t own these platforms, the likes of Mark Zuckerberg are able to make any changes they want in order to make money, of course. My best advice is not to put all of your eggs into one platform, such as Instagram (or Twitter, or Facebook, or Instagram, or YouTube, or Pinterest). I’ve been saying this to all my students who attend my workshops for months – you must have a blog or a website that you own, and which you can send people to from platforms like Instagram. And for those Insta-fame kids who have found success on Instagram alone, don’t stress. The time is ripe for you to start your own blog or website which you own and have full control over.

YOU OWN YOUR BLOG AND WEBSITE Your blog or website is your own little piece of the internet – you own it and you can decide what happens to it. You have control of your content, your readers and their experience. You don’t have to battle it out with tough, uncontrollable algorithms, or brands with huge ad spends. However, I think it’s still important to use social media to your advantage. Not every channel is going to suit you – in fact, last year I deleted Twitter because I wasn’t getting a lot from it and I also deleted my Facebook Page, which incidentally had over 16k people in the community but no one was engaging with the content because I wasn’t paying to play. I then discovered the power of Facebook Groups, as I am a member for a few myself. What I love most about them is that they’re private and heavily run by the community, which I love. However, I am sure Facebook will do something to change this too in the future…GRRRR. But for now, I’ve created a Facebook Group community of 790 people in a couple of months who are more engaged that my Page of over 16k people – go figure.

CREATE UNIQUE CONTENT Searchable content has value long after a piece of content, such as a blog post, is posted on a website. In fact, some of my most visited content are for blogs I posted two years ago! It’s also even more important now to create evergreen content, which isn’t timely so it’s always relevant for your readers at any time of the year. However, there is a catch, blogs and websites are also at the mercy of Google but it’s a hell of a lot better than these tough social media algorithms. Additionally, Google actually loves content rich blog posts – aka the more words, the better SEO. And if you have a blog but can’t afford to pay someone to look after your SEO or you don’t have the budget to invest in Ad Words (I don’t!) use the Yoast widget, it’s fantastic for putting a little bit of SEO behind each blog post. Whilst we’re on topic, it’s important to understand that social media does not have a lot of value long after it has been posted on it’s platform – so if you don’t have a blog or a website, get one quick because we all know the secret to getting ahead is getting started.

START CREATING VIDEO CONTENT Personally, I love watching videos. There is just something so engaging and fun about them; but they are a lot of work. In the past I made a few videos chronicling my travels to Peru and Japan, and I think it’s time for me to start creating a few more, wouldn’t you say?

STRENGTHEN YOUR MAIL LIST Along with your blog and website that you own, you also own your mail list. So start strengthening this today. If you don’t have a subscribe button on your blog or website, get one! There are many widgets you can use for free that capture your mail list data, even if you aren’t ready to send a newsletter just yet. I use Mailchimp and usually send an email every two month because I find those newsletters which update you on every single post a little spammy! But I am now going to start making a conscience effort to send a newsletter every fortnight because the people who have spent the time to sign up, actively want to know what content I am producing for Mister Weekender – and that in itself is amazing!

REALITY CHECK I hope you have enjoyed my tips above and that they have helped you in some way! I also think it’s important to have a little pep talk about Instagram. Don’t get caught in the hunker down, or you will miss what’s happening around you! Simply enjoy Instagram for what it is; it’s a great platform to share your photography and your story, and to meet people all around the world.

Before I head off, here are my two quick tips for the future. My gut feeling tells me to like every single photo on Instagram to ensure I am seeing all the content I like. It might be a little time consuming and I admit, I probably won’t have time to do this every day, but I am going to give it a shot. Also, there are numerous petitions circulating the interwebs petitioning against the changes on Instagram. Power of the people! You can sign a petition here.