Don't get me wrong, my life changed once I discovered "my people" on Instagram. The outdoors community is one of the most welcoming and supportive communities on Insta. When I first started sharing more and more about my outdoors lifestyle, I had no idea what I was doing. I remember how excited I was when a photo of me shooting my bow was shared on page that had quite a few followers. I shared it with all of my friends on Facebook and was super proud that someone shared my photo. The more I got into Instagram, the more I discovered that there are literally hundreds of pages that re-post photos, to get those pages likes. Really though, what I have found is that it is a game. A sort of rat-race in the modern-day marketing world. It's not all bad, but you should be careful.
So, what do I mean when I say the "Outdoor Industry Insta Trap"? I call it a trap because most outdoorsmen and women LOVE what they do. They fall in love with the outdoors, gain some traction and exposure on social media, and then think, hey, this should be my career (GUILTY). The Insta-Trap is being an outdoorsman or woman trapped by technology, with the goals of making it in the outdoors industry. A catch-22 of sorts, being obsessed with your stats so much that you are more worried about likes, comments, and shares than what you are doing in real life (not so guilty). This trap is not just unique to the outdoors industry, it is real thing happening all over Instagram. Social media is a great tool, a wonderful outlet for some but, when you can't differentiate real life from your Insta life, you might have a problem.
Here's what I've learned:
1. Respect yourself
Being "HOT" will only get you so far in the outdoors industry. There are way too many so-called "outdoor influencers" that boost their page engagement by posting photos that, let's just say their grandma probably wouldn't approve of. I'm not trying to bash here, just trying to help point out the fact that legitimate companies looking to sell legitimate products may not take you seriously. You'll get likes, comments, shares. You'll build your following, you may even get a few companies interested in you - but, who are those companies marketing to? Think about it.
It's no secret that many people equate "Insta-fame" with company endorsements. It is the hottest way for companies to reach a mass audience, using real people, and in many cases, just paying them in product. It's genius, really. Some influencers do get paid. Paid per endorsement post, or affiliate marketing. It is their ACTUAL JOB. Cool. If that is your goal, or if you're goal is to be a model, you're on the right track. All the more power to you. But, if you goal is to truly be a part of the outdoors and hunting industry, you should probably re-evaluate and choose your partnerships wisely.
2. Remain Authentic
No matter what your goals are for your social media accounts, keep it REAL. People can spot a genuine person quicker than you may give them credit for. Although I know that social media is oftentimes used to share the "highlights", it is okay to show struggle, too. We are all human, meaning, we all fall short from time-to-time. Not to say that you have to put it all out there, but if you want to be an influencer that people can truly connect with and trust, you need to show that you are human.
3. Live your life
Again, if you can't do something without posting it on your insta-story, you may have a problem. BALANCE people. Balance. My friend Jess and I were texting about this the other day, and she said something many influencers probably need to hear.
"It's nice to have that community, but that's not what it is all about. It's about living your life and having social media as a place to share it, not the reason for doing things."
According to a recent article published in socialmediatoday.com, people are spending an average of 15 minutes on Instagram per day. For YouTube, it is an average of 40 minutes, Facebook 35 mins, Snapchat 25 mins, and Twitter 1 min per day. That's more time on social media than some people spend eating, drinking, or showering...think about it. In a lifetime, at that pace, that's 8 months spent on Instagram and even more time spent on the other social platforms.
Between YouTube, Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram, and Twitter, it is combined average of 5 years and 4 months spent on social media. SAY WHAT?!
So, I cannot stress this enough: Breathe deeply. Practice mindfulness. Put down your phone, turn off the TV, shut down your computer and GO OUTSIDE once in a while. After all, isn't your passion for the outdoors what brought you here in the first place? #empoweroutdoors