What’s your favorite social media platform? For the past five years I have been a big fan of Instagram due to my love of photography, travel and nature. It’s also been a wonderful place to make great friends from around the world, including my TSJ blogging partner, Libby McAvoy. When I started on IG it was fun and easy to gain followers and make friends. Since Instagram introduced their notorious "algorithm" a couple years ago that selects what photos appear in our feeds, however, it's become more competitive and, quite frankly, rather frustrating at times. Seeing some accounts grow while your own stays the same can be discouraging, considering that many of those fast growing accounts are using computer bots to follow and unfollow you. And then their is the risk of falling into the "comparison trap" when you see so many fantastically edited photos, exotic locations, fabulous lifestyles and heavily curated galleries.
To help you make the most of your experience on Instagram, I recently interviewed Melissa Teng of @witandfolly to give you a healthy perspective and advice on the ins and outs of this popular social media platform. After exploring her outstanding gallery, it's easy to see why Melissa has quickly become a successful travel influencer with over 46 thousand followers. It's no wonder considering the beauty of her photos and the amazing places that she visits around the world. In addition, Melissa has been sharing her editing techniques with "before and after" shots, and she also facilitates thought provoking conversations about the positive and the negative aspects of Instagram in her IG stories and in her photo captions.
An Interview With Melissa Teng
Paul: What do you love about Instagram?
Melissa: As a natural introvert, I love that IG allows me to go outside of my comfort zone by sharing bits and pieces of my life and thoughts to quite frankly, a bunch of people I've never met in person. The amazing and powerful thing about IG is its ability to connect people from all around the world with each other, pretty much instantly. And the type of community we are each able to form on IG is truly incredible. Never in a million years would I have imagined that I would have this amazing support system online, and that at the end of the day, we are all here to support and encourage each other through the content we are so passionate in creating. IG started out as a creative outlet for me to share my travel photos, but it's really turned into something so much more. And of course, I love that you can take the friendships you've formed online and turn them into real life friendships as well!
Paul: What are the primary concerns and frustrations about Instagram/social media that you and your followers have?
Melissa: I think a big frustration to everyone I've talked with on IG/social media is the mysterious "IG algorithm" and not always being shown to your followers. Spending a ton of time creating content for your audience, only to learn that they never saw it due to something outside of your control, can be very frustrating. Another concern is how easy it can become to get too caught up in the numbers game: you start to feel like you're in a rat race to see who can gain the most number of followers and likes in the shortest amount of time. Some people go to great lengths to become "instafamous" or a big "influencer" by not so ethical practices, including buying followers, likes, comments etc. to the more gray area of participating in FB engagement pods, comment pods, telegram groups, etc. This becomes a concern when brands end up investing in and working with accounts that did not grow organically and are primarily made up of bot or fake accounts. This takes away from influencers who actually work hard to hone their craft and grow organically. Overall, I think there needs to be greater transparency and more honesty in the IG community if we want to keep it a positive and safe place.
Paul: What is your best advice to help people keep a healthy perspective and to have a good experience on Instagram?
Melissa: IG and social media can lead to anxiety and depression if not kept in check. The chemical, dopamine, that is released in your brain when you receive a "like" on your photo or a new follower is the same chemical that is released when you take drugs or when you gamble. It can become an actual addiction and extremely unhealthy if you find that you are compulsively checking IG, or always comparing yourself and your life to others on social media.
I think the best thing you can do for yourself to make sure you don't end up spiraling down this addictive pattern is to not depend on IG or social media to make you happy. Take breaks away from your phone and be aware when you feel like being on IG is wasting your time rather than providing something of value for you. I usually spend an hour after posting on IG engaging with others, but after that hour is up, I put my phone down and focus on other things. Same goes to when you're hanging out with your friends in real life or eating - put your phone somewhere where it's hard for you to check up on it easily. I think these breaks away from your phone and the online world are essential to ensure you don't come to depend on IG or any form of social media to keeping you happy.
Paul: Thanks so much for sharing your expertise with Total Soulful Journey, Melissa! We really appreciate your talent and all that you do for the IG community! Please checkout and follow Melissa’s beautiful gallery on Instagram at @witandfolly and have a great week!
P.S. - You can find me on Instagram at @thepaulgarrett, as well as Libby at @libbymcavoy. In addition, follow us at @totalsoufuljourney. Summer is just around the corner and so is the opportunity to prepare healthy meals with wonderful fresh veggies straight from your garden or local farmers market. Coming up on the blog, Libby is working on some farm to table recipes that are easy to fix for your family and oh so delicious. Sign up below for our free newsletter so that you don't miss out on our upcoming articles. Also be sure to click on the "Likes" button if you enjoyed this post.
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