Choosing Facebook vs. Instagram to Build an Online Community

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Open our Instagram feed, and you might be surprised at what you discover. Wild Words has an account, but there are only nine photos, which is all you’ll see for the foreseeable future. Right now, I’m consciously choosing not to build a community on Instagram. This might be an unpopular choice, but I’m not interested in anyone else’s opinion. I’m interested in my sanity.


5 Reasons I’m Not Using Instagram to Grow My Following (Yet)


01 | I’m already using Facebook

The biggest reason I’m not using Instagram for Wild Words is because in 2016, I started a private Facebook group for writers. That’s where I spend most of my social media energy, and it’s where relationships have been cultivated ever since. I have something that works, so I’m sticking with it.

02 | I’m a one-woman show

I have a family, a full-time job, a dog, and when it comes to making space to write and move forward on my dreams, I’m comfortable admitting that I can’t do it all at once. For now, I’ll be staying the course with the community I’ve already started instead of trying to build a new one elsewhere.

03 | Instagram rewards speed

So long as this deep dive into Instagram’s algorithm remains accurate, the platform tends to reward you when followers quickly engage with your content, as well as the timeliness of your responses. My slow writing philosophy makes it difficult to keep up. Not that the Facebook algorithm is ideal (it’s not), but circle back the first two reasons above.

04 | Direct messages would overwhelm me

I’m trying to limit the use of my phone, and responding to direct messages would not help me achieve this goal. I know there are probably desktop apps that let you manage it all from the computer (which I’m much more interested in), but I’d rather not feel like I’m always behind when it comes to interacting with my community.

05 | It’s too visual

I know myself. I’m certain I could create beautiful graphics and find inspiring images and write engaging copy. But I couldn’t maintain a regular cadence, and tending to those details would take me away from other important work like book writing and blogging, and nurturing my existing community on another platform. Since I’m a writer, I naturally prefer writing to photography, and even though I’m capable, spiraling down a visual rabbit hole would simply remove me from my zone of genius and be a distraction.

So why the parenthetical caveat? Because I'm open to changing my mind. Right now, I’m focused on guarding my energy and using my time as wisely as possible. But if circumstances change and I'm able to hire an incredible community manager who shares my vision and can shoulder the tasks that drain me, I'll absolutely reconsider.

The thing is, part of me really wants to use Instagram. I know a Wild Words community would thrive there, and it would be a beautiful thing to watch unfold. When I see other brands nurturing their audiences so well, sharing vulnerability about experiences that have shaped them, and values that drive them. It reminds me of all the reasons I love social media, and all the good it can do in the world.

That’s also why I decided to create an account in the first place. I’m open to more when the time is right. And I want people who find us there to be directed to where we’re spending the most time time, as well as to the newsletter where they can get inspiration sent straight to their inbox.

Since I’m no longer in the business of spreading myself too thin, I have to build a firm boundary here. Does this mean I’ll be missing out on reaching an audience who’s hungry for what I have to share? Probably. Am I willing to wait until I can be more present in order to connect with them? Yes.

Why I'm Not Using Instagram to Build My Brand | Wild Words #Instagram #SocialMedia #GirlBoss #CommunityBuilding

How to Connect With the Wild Words Community

Just because we’re not on Instagram doesn’t mean you can’t join us online! Here are a few places where you can find me and fellow writers who are figuring things out as we go along.

Weekly Notes

I’m in your inbox every Wednesday with insights from my writing life, curated links, and updates about books, events, and opportunities to dive deeper with me.

The Wild Words Collective

This is our private Facebook group, almost 1,000 members strong. We have weekly prompts, share threads, and meaningful discussions about what it means to be writers while also tending to other important aspects of our lives. (You’ll get a link after signing up for the newsletter; see above!)

The Blog

I believe in blogging, and have been doing it since 2008. This medium aligns with my personal value of moving slowly and intentionally because the content doesn't disappear after twenty-four hours and people can read it at their own pace.

Pinterest

Pinterest isn’t a social media platform, it’s a search engine. Yes, it’s visual, but it has the potential to refer traffic to the blog, and I also don’t have to constantly manage interactions. Win-win. Also, it’s fun. (See the next section for more on this!)

A Simple Question to Help You Decide Which Social Media Platforms to Use

If you’re struggling to decide where to put your social media efforts, here’s the question I always start with:

Is it fun?

If the answer is no, move on. I confronted myself with this not long ago, just before I opened up Instagram stories on my personal account to record something. Stories usually feel like something I should be doing, not something I’m naturally inclined to do. That tells me almost everything I need to know. My Facebook group, on the other hand, feels more effortless (even with video). And blogging and creating courses and resources, of course, is my sweet spot. So that's where I stand.

(Side note: Alexandra Franzen built her entire writing business without using social media, so it can be done.)  


3 Pillars to Online Community Building

You can also think about your community building efforts as supported by the following pillars: trust, community, and service. This is the recipe for doing anything well online, I think. (And these pillars didn’t originate with me, although sadly I can’t remember where I first heard about them!)

01 | Trust

Trust is earned over time. It’s not guaranteed, and it’s certainly not established after a single email is sent. Being vulnerable and honest with your audience can help accelerate the relationship, though. And by accelerate, I mean months or years, not days.

02 | Community

This is where you can develop more meaningful relationships with people in your inner circle. They’re potential friends, readers, customers, and even teachers. This can take the form of an online home (like a Facebook group or Instagram account) and eventually, in-person meet-ups or events.

03 | Service

Whether the offerings are free (like a blog or podcast) or paid (like an online course or coaching session), being of service to the people in your community should always be top of mind.

When these three pillars are being built simultaneously, you’ll find yourself at the crossroads of being able to use your passions to help solve a problem, or offer something that the world needs. It’s a truly wonderful feeling.


Over to you: I’d love to keep the conversation going in the comments! What are your thoughts about using Instagram, or social media in general?