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My relationship with social media makes me feel as though I’ve failed as a millennial. On the best days, it’s like-hate. 

In 2019, it was all too much to keep up with, usually at the cost of time spent more productively or meaningfully. So, I took a hiatus as a New Year’s resolution in which I froze my personal and business accounts. 

After a year and some change, it was obvious I needed to return to Facebook and Instagram to properly run my new business, Apply U. As a tech startup aiming to help high school students, Apply U needs a strong social media presence that caters to a young target audience. Alas, my strategy for marketing via ESP had some limitations.

Now six months in, the return to social media has been inglorious. The vast majority of my Likes still come from loyal friends and family — not my target demographic.

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Despite coming of age during the internet boom, I’ve admittedly lacked the innate knowledge to produce a revenue stream through social media, or even to build a significant following. 

I found myself wondering, “What mistakes am I making?” “How do people do this?” and importantly, “Do I have to make overtly narcissistic posts to gain traction?”

In search of answers, I asked four Tulsans who have thrived on various social media platforms: two whose Instagram followings have reached the 20,000 mark, one with more than a million YouTube subscribers and one with 6.5 million monthly viewers on Pinterest. 

Some have embraced the identity of “influencer”; for others, the term is oil to their water. Still, with respect to social media marketing, all four are lightyears ahead of most business owners.

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Their motives, approaches and journeys differ wildly. 

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Amy Ann Arnold and her children pose for a photo. Arnold’s blog is about women’s fashion but she also talks about her struggles with infertility.

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For influencers, income generation can be active or passive, direct or indirect, or altogether nonexistent. 

Women’s fashion blogger Amy Ann Arnold makes money on social media. She does this in three ways: driving traffic to her blog with relevant posts, which generates income through pageviews and ads; making a commission on sales using a unique link generated through her affiliate network; and through direct brand collaborations. “I feel blessed in the truest sense of the word that I am able to do this for my job,” Arnold says. 

For Ryan Fitzgibbon, a creative consultant and entrepreneur who came to town via Tulsa Remote one year ago, “social media was just how I got the word out about my work, so I haven’t considered it as a driving revenue stream.” However, Instagram has been the source of many collaborations. “It’s nearly impossible to quantify the return on that,” Fitzgibbon says. 

Photographer Tony Li uses social media platforms for inspiration, networking and to experiment with directions to take his photography and creative work: “It’s helped me get a gauge of what niches to get into.” As with Fitzgibbon, Li has used Instagram to make connections that could lead to business opportunities. He advises businesses to target audiences by partnering with other accounts that have similar interests and demographics and to create engaging content that fits their brand and sparks conversation. 

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Author and podcaster Brett McKay is mainly focused on publishing content on his website, in which he and his team are prolific. “Social media is just for sharing that content,” McKay says. For businesses like his, social media is but one aspect of a robust business model. 

Nevertheless, some common themes about their use of social media should resonate for any business: 

Patience

Whereas I have been throwing spaghetti at the wall for a span of several months, feeling exasperated by the futile slog of it all, followings like theirs usually take several years. Terribly impatient business owners like me might ask, “Are there shortcuts?”

Save the occasional TikTok-fueled, Gen Z sensation, the short answer is: no. 

Arnold’s growth has been “slow and steady” since she began five years ago.  

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McKay’s website has been around since 2008. “Time, plus having a website that gets millions of page views a month, can allow you to grow large social media followings,” he says.

Fitzgibbon joined Instagram 10 years ago. His social media momentum has been building for nearly as long as the platform has been around.

Adaptability

The business account Fitzgibbon created as the founder of Hello Mr. magazine (@hellomr on Instagram) was featured on Instagram’s curated list in 2014, which led to an exponential increase in followers. “The residual effect rubbed off on my personal account, and the rest is history,” he says. A boon such as that would be much harder to recreate nowadays. 

Similarly, McKay’s large following comes from being around a lot longer and having less competition in the early days, he says, adding that his social media efforts started about a decade ago, as well. Relevant content is a must, too. 

“What worked for me 8-10 years ago probably won’t work for people just starting out,” McKay says. Besides an increase in competition, he points to the fact that platforms which boosted his numbers in the early days are now obsolete, and the ones still around have changed their algorithms. 

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Arnold’s blog has high referral traffic from Pinterest but hasn’t yet found a catch-all trick for Instagram. “I wish I had some secret or best practice that always worked, but the truth is I don’t,” Arnold says.  

Since there is no silver bullet, McKay advises businesses to keep adapting and not to become dependent on any one platform. “Experiment. Don’t be afraid to try new things or drop things if they no longer provide enough ROI (return on investment) for you,” he says. “And accept that ultimately, you don’t have much control over this stuff. Focus on what you do have control over.”

Consistency

One element McKay can control is the frequency of his posts. On Instagram, he posts about once a week. It’s about “brand awareness,” which he calls “a fuzzy metric” because it’s hard to determine the value brand awareness provides with concrete numbers.

Arnold says the foci for any new account should be consistency, authenticity and to have a theme.

I latched onto this, as the frequency of posts on my own business account resembles that of a pinball machine. “I’d aim to post a couple times a week at least so your posts are getting seen regularly enough to remind people why they want to check out your website (or whatever your goal is),” Arnold says. 

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As an influencer, Arnold posts much more often. “You are expected to have some type of content on your Instagram story each day.” 

Finding balance

Arnold is “on and off Instagram throughout the day posting stories and responding to DMs (direct messages).” Especially while also trying to parent a young child and a newborn during a pandemic, this can be a juggle. “I try pretty hard not to be constantly on my phone when I am with the girls, so I usually do this during naps/rest time,” she says.

McKay emphasized perspective. “My advice is to not sweat too much about social media,” he says. “Don’t ignore it. It’s a great marketing tool, but don’t let it consume you.”

Redefining ROI

Perhaps one way to strike an equilibrium is to see social media as an opportunity for multifaceted return on investment. Aside from revenue, there can be other perks. 

Li says he has made some incredible friendships with many people and businesses. Arnold has connected with a lot of like-minded women in her niche, which she says has been personally fulfilling and helpful for growth.

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Authenticity

Refreshingly, the themes of openness and authenticity shine throughout these social media accounts. 

Arnold describes the pain of her struggle with infertility. McKay puts forth his vision for redefining what it means to be a man in the modern world. Li talks about his darkest mental health challenges. Fitzgibbon has been increasingly activist-oriented, making posts about politics and social justice. 

It seems I don’t have to follow any one prescription to gain a following. The revelation is, I don’t have to hate social media. 

Fitzgibbon encourages business owners like me to jump in. “Give yourself permission to break your own mold and have more fun with it,” he says.  

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That, I can do.




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Amy Ann Arnold

Women’s fashion blogger who also shares about parenthood

Instagram: @straightastyle

42.4K followers | 2,315 posts

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Pinterest: 51.8K followers

10 million monthly views

Facebook: 3,029 Likes/followers

Twitter: 989 followers

straightastyleblog.com

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Ryan Fitzgibbon

Personal account of the creative consultant and entrepreneur, peppered with a little bit of everything 

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Instagram: @ryanfitzgibbon

22.6K followers | 379 posts



BrettMcKay_Photo Oct 03, 6 22 38 PM.jpg



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Brett McKay

Author, podcaster and publisher of men’s interest web magazine

Art of Manliness

Instagram: @artofmanliness

203K followers | 1,235 posts

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YouTube: 1.2 million subscribers

Facebook: a little over 1 million

Likes/followers

Twitter: 167.1K followers

artofmanliness.com

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Tony Li

Photographer specializing in the creative industries

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Instagram: @thetonyliproject

21.5K followers | 1,082 posts

Facebook: 894 Likes/followers

thetonyliproject.com

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LinkedIn Makes its 20 Most Popular LinkedIn Learning Courses Freely Available Throughout August

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Looking to up your skills for a job change or career advancement in the second half of the year?

This will help – today, LinkedIn has published its listing of the 20 most popular LinkedIn Learning courses over the first half of 2022. In addition to this, LinkedIn’s also making each of these courses free to access till the end of the month – so now may well be the best time to jump in and brush up on the latest, rising skills in your industry.

As per LinkedIn:

As the Great Reshuffle slows and the job market cools, professionals are getting more serious about skill building. The pandemic accelerated change across industries, and as a result, skills to do a job today have changed even compared to a few years ago. Professionals are responding by learning new skills to future-proof their careers and meet the moment.” 

LinkedIn says that over seven million people have undertaken these 20 courses this year, covering everything from improved communication, project management, coding, strategic thinking and more.

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Here are the top 20 LinkedIn Learning courses right now, which you can access via the relevant links:

  1. Goal Setting: Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) with Jessie Withers
  2. Excel Essential Training (Office 365/Microsoft 365) with Dennis Taylor
  3. Interpersonal Communication with Dorie Clark
  4. Cultivating a Growth Mindset with Gemma Leigh Roberts
  5. Project Management Foundations with Bonnie Biafore
  6. Using Questions to Foster Critical Thinking and Curiosity with Joshua Miller
  7. Essentials of Team Collaboration with Dana Brownlee
  8. Unconscious Bias with Stacey Gordon
  9. Learning Python with Joe Marini
  10. Communicating with Confidence with Jeff Ansell
  11.  Speaking Confidently and Effectively with Pete Mockaitis
  12. Learning the OWASP Top 10 with Caroline Wong
  13. Power BI Essential Training with Gini von Courter
  14. Strategic Thinking with Dorie Clark
  15. SQL Essential Training with Bill Weinman
  16. Developing Your Emotional Intelligence with Gemma Leigh Roberts
  17. Communication Foundations with Brenda Bailey-Hughes and Tatiana Kolovou
  18. Agile Foundations with Doug Rose
  19. Digital Marketing Foundations with Brad Batesole
  20. Critical Thinking with Mike Figliuolo
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If you’ve been thinking about upskilling, now may be the time – or maybe it’s just worth taking some of the programming courses, for example, so that you have a better understanding of how to communicate between departments on projects.

Or you could take an Agile course. If, you know, you don’t trust your own management ability.

The courses are available for free till August 31st via the above links.

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Instagram Is Rolling Out Reels Replies, And Will Be Testing A New Feature Which Informs …

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Instagram has added a few more social features to the platform, with Reels Replies being rolled out. Along with the Replies, anew feature is being tested that shows when two users are active together in the same chat.

Reels has been performing much better than perhaps even Instagram ever anticipated. The TikTok-inspired new video format (which officially claims to have absolutely no relation to the former) had some trouble really finding its footing initially. However, Reels has grown massively and while it may not be a source of the most direct competition to TikTok, it is indeed a worthy alternative.

Reels has grown to the point that it has a massive creator program attached to it, and the video format has even been migrated to Facebook with the goal of generating further user interest there. Naturally, with such a successful virtual goldmine on its hands, Instagram has been hard at work developing new features and interface updates for Reels, integrating it more and more seamlessly into the rest of the social media platform. Features such as Reels Replies are a major part of such attempts at integration.

Reels Visual Replies are essentially just what they sound like: A Reel that is being used to reply to someone. It’s a feature that’s been seen frequently across TikTok as well. Reel Replies essentially take a user’s comments, and reply to them in video format. The comment will then show up within the Reel itself as a text-box, taking up some amount of space, and showing both the user who issued said comment along with the text. The text-box is apparently adjustable, with users having the ability to move it around and change its size depending on where it obstructs one’s Reel the least.

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Overall, it’s a fun addition to the Reels format, even if the credit should be going to TikTok first. At any rate, it’s an example of Instagram really utilizing Reels’ social media capabilities, outside of just serving it up as a form of entertainment.

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Speaking of social media capabilities, a new feature might help alleviate one of the most common frustrations encountered across all such platforms. Isn’t it annoying when you see that a friend’s online, but isn’t replying to your chat? Sure, they’ve probably just put their phone down to run a quick errand, but there’s no way for you to know, right? Well, there sort of is now! Instagram is beta testing a new feature via which if both users are active within a chat, the platform will display that accordingly. It’s a work-around, sure, and one that’s currently being tested for usefulness, but it’s still a very nice, and even fresh, addition to the social media game.

Now, the active status will only appear when you are both active at the same time.#Instagram #instgramnewfeature@MattNavarra @instagram @alex193a pic.twitter.com/2chGZP9hr4

— Yash Joshi  (@MeYashjoshi) December 10, 2021

Read next: Instagram Plans On Allowing Users To Return To Its Old Chronologically Sorted News Feed

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5 apps for scheduling Instagram posts on iPhone and Android

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Alright, we get it. You’re an Instagram Nostradamus.

You know exactly what you want to post and when you’re gonna want to post it. Maybe there’s a meme or comment you want to make that you know will be totally relevant for a future moment or event. Or it could be that you’re an influencer and you want to make sure you keep a steady stream of content coming, so you want to schedule posts for times when you know you won’t be active (or won’t have internet access).

You’ll be happy to know there are apps that are specialized for just such situations. So listen up, InstaNostradamuses…Instagrostra…Instadam…Insta…uh…you guys (we’ll workshop it. No we won’t. We’ll probably just abandon that effort completely. You’re welcome) — these are the Instagram-post-scheduling apps for you.

While all of the iPhone apps below are free to download, they all have some in-app purchases.

1. Planoly

PLANOLY

We’ll start with “official partner” of Instagram, itself, Planoly — an Instaplanner that uses a grid to let you plan, schedule, and publish posts (as well as Reels) on Instagram. The app also lets you see post metrics and analytics so you can make sure your post didn’t flop.

Planoly is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

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2. Buffer

BufferCredit: buffer / app store

Buffer is another Instagram post scheduler that helps you plan your posts and analyze feedback once they’re published. Use a calendar view to drag and drop posts into days/time slots for easy scheduling.

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Buffer is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

3. Preview

PreviewCredit: preview / app store

Preview offers typical post-scheduling tools and analytics along with a few helpful extras. Get caption ideas, recommendations for hashtags, and more.

Preview is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

4. Content Office

Content OfficeCredit: content office / app store

An Instagram post scheduler with a visual boost, Content Office allows users to plan and schedule Instagram posts while learning “marketing and visual guides to grow your brand on Instagram.” Like aesthetics and using visuals to create cohesive themes? Maybe this is the Instaplanner for you.

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Content Office is available for iOS on the Apple App Store.

5. Plann

PlannCredit: plann / apple store

You’ll never guess what “Plann” lets you do…

Aside from scheduling posts, get content ideas and recommendations, as well as strategy tips to ensure you’re maximizing your Instagram engagement. Ever wonder when the best time to post something is? Plann can offer you some help with that.

Plann is available for iOS on the Apple App Store and the Google Play store for Android.

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