How To Make Instagram and Twitter Work Better For You

Thursday, November 05, 2015

If you are an artist, there are two things your clients need from you:

First, they need you to be a subject-matter expert. If you’re a florist, you should know everything about flowers and foliage. And, obviously, since no one can ever know everything, you should always be learning more. True experts know that they are never done learning: there is always more to explore, more to discover and always new ways of looking at and thinking about things.

Second, your clients need you to be well-rounded. They need you to not be a person who “eats, sleeps and breathes weddings.” Having hobbies outside the industry will sharpen your work and make it better.

Being well-rounded also means consuming information that isn’t directly related to your work. Every speaker at every conference talks about how important it is to look up and notice things in order to increase your creativity. Museums, botanical gardens, zoos, new restaurants are all great ways to do this. The fact of life though is that you probably have a schedule that doesn’t allow for a museum visit or a meal at a hip, new restaurant every single day.

Twitter and Instagram can fill a daily void in that regard, if you’re following people outside of your industry. No matter the platform, if you’re only following people in your field, your work and voice will start to look and sound like everyone else’s. Twitter is great (and far from dying) for following thought-leaders and provocative thinkers across a range of industries and interests. If you want to approach projects from a different point of view, a daily feed of people who cause you to actually think about things and re-consider common ideas or long-held beliefs is the quickest and easiest way to do that. Same goes for Instagram — if you want to be creatively inspired, following people who don’t do what you do and who see the world differently than you do, is a great way to do that. This doesn’t necessarily mean they have perfectly composed images, but that they are posting a perspective that empowers you to work or approach life from a different angle or in a better way.

Just like food, we can consume in a way that slows us down and makes us lethargic, or we can consume in a way that gives us more energy, helps us think more sharply, and makes us healthier. If you want to be better, change your daily habits.

PS: If you follow thousands of people on either Twitter or Instagram, the algorithms will filter out people you may want to see or hear from. On Twitter, this is an easy fix: follow who you're interested in hearing from every time you check in and create a list (private or public) of people you're interested in hearing from when you have time. You do not have to be following someone to have them on a list. (I have several private lists: wedding industry, journalists, tech industry, economists, news, etc). Instagram doesn't currently offer this feature, so if you're following a ton of people, the algorithms make it so that you're seeing a lot of the same types of images and not all of the updates from everyone you follow. 

Originally published August 2015

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