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February 10, 2022 —

Valentine’s Challenge: Fall Back in Love with Instagram in a Week!

Fall back in love with Instagram this Valentine's Day, in collaboration with Century General Store. Find out how.
Notebook, pen and cup of tea
Nadia Karim
Indie business owner,
Century General Stores
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With Valentine’s Day just around the corner we are ready to get all loved up! And not with a special someone, but with Instagram. We’ve loved that little phone app for many years, although lately it’s felt a little… different. We decided to team up with the guys at Century General Store, fellow Instagram lovers, who agree it’s time to change things. Nadia Karim tells us why we should find our love for it again, before encouraging you to join in our five-day challenge where you may even win some fantastic prizes! 

Laptop with 91 Magazine Instagram on screen

We have a confession to make. We’ve fallen out of love with Instagram. That sense of connection, creativity, joy and solidarity that the little polaroid icon used to evoke… those feelings have gone and we want them back!

Instagram feels more and more like a code we can’t crack.

Recently, we shared some beautiful new shots by a phenomenal photographer. We felt the images captured the heart and soul of our business and we were excited to share them with our 13K followers. 29 people engaged with the post. Clearly, we have work to do.

And we know it’s not just us. For many small business owners, Instagram has felt like an increasingly frustrating, overwhelming, unpredictable, unrewarding and relentless place to share and connect. Hardly the feelings we want to engage with on a daily basis.

That’s why this challenge feels so pertinent.

So. A week to fall back in love with Instagram. The mission: to reconnect to the joy of sharing snippets of your creative world; to bolster those authentic connections with like-minded folk; to feel confident that your corner of this weird and wonderful platform is a beautiful / quiet / uplifting / soothing (delete as appropriate!) place for your followers to be.

There is a route to go down that’s all algorithm research and like counts and numbers and strategy. But this is about love. It has to be heart-driven. It’s about what lights you up, not what you should be doing.

Man with camera taking photos in a living room

Slow living is at the heart of what we do, and Instagram can often feel like the antithesis of mindfulness. We invite you to find a pace that feels slow enough to lean in and enjoy your time on Instagram. More joy, more connections, more whole-hearted, more authenticity, more play, more ease. Who’s with us?

So, what can we do to achieve this? And what does the challenge involve?! The challenge aims to introduce you to a new relationship with Instagram based on our shared passions: Aesthetics, Nostalgia & Authenticity, Sustainability, Creativity and Community.

For 5 days in February, from the 10th-14th, we at 91 Magazine and Century will be trying to fall back in love with this little app and we’d love you to join us. Complete a challenge a day and invite your friends to take the challenge with you, just get stuck in and see what magic unfolds!

Use the hashtag #bemyvalentineinstagram on any posts, so we can all come together and see what is being created. In addition, by using the hashtag, you will be in with a chance of winning some lovely prizes – more details at the end of the post.

DAY 1: AESTHETICS

The goal: to treat your IG account to the same sprucing up, love and attention you give to your home or your studio – make it a place that you and others want to spend time in, that feels uniquely yours.

Challenge: Spruce it up

– Focus on how you want your IG account to look and feel, e.g. inspiring, uplifting, comforting, adventurous. Why is it important to you that visitors experience those values? How does it tie into your bigger vision for your business?

– Give your profile some TLC. Is all the information relevant and current? Are your links working? What tweaks need to be made?

Share a picture, reel or video that encapsulates what your aesthetic is and explain it to your followers.

Close of iPhone with instagram on screen
DAY 2: NOSTALGIA & AUTHENTICITY

The goal: to rediscover those forgotten gems and reconnect authentically

Challenge: Revisit what worked in the past & reconnect with your authenticity

– Choose your three favourite ever posts on your own account – three posts that you felt ease around writing or sharing, and through which you felt an authentic connection with your community. What was it about each post that you loved? Write it down, keep it close, refer to it when you’re writing a caption or choosing an image or wondering whether to even bother posting

Create a new image, reel or video inspired by those previous posts, considering what feels authentic and true to you. Perhaps you could revisit a local spot you have photographed before and try creating a short video, reminiscing about why that place is important to you, for example.

Man reading a magazine on a sofa
DAY 3: SUSTAINABILITY

The goal: to avoid the cycle of burnout. To nurture a more healthy relationship with Instagram that you can sustain long term

Challenge: Schedule

­If you don’t already, create a weekly schedule or even just a rough daily template for your Instagram use. (this doesn’t necessarily mean posting every day) Block out time in the diary and keep it really focused on the specific tasks you want to accomplish within that time.

– When thinking about content, can you simplify and avoid overwhelm by creating five categories and creating content within those, assigning a schedule based on rotating those categories? Choose categories that feel natural to your business. For example, ours could be aesthetics, nostalgia & authenticity, sustainability, creativity, community but yours might be colour, shape, music, play, joy or home, studio, adventure, nature, wellbeing or movement, stillness, history, landscape, process. Whatever five things feel authentic to you and remove the option of infinite choice.

Create an image, reel or video the represents one of your chosen themes.

Man working at a desk on a laptop
DAY 4: CREATIVITY

The goal: to bring more flow, play and ease into your relationship with Instagram

Challenge: Do something that feels uncomfortable

– Try making a reel, write a vulnerable post, create a story sequence, try an Instagram Live. That aspect of Instagram that you’ve been resisting? Give it a go. Step out of your comfort zone and then, even better…

Share that uncomfortable or unfamiliar thing! So often, we stop ourselves from sharing something out of fear that it isn’t perfect, that we’ll expose our amateurishness for all to see. But we’re all creative businesses… we are learning every day! Authenticity (screw ups and all) is an absolute gift to our community and our peers because it lets us all show up as exactly ourselves. Let’s all lean into the messy creativity and embrace the realness and the imperfection.

Share an outtake from a video, share a photo or clip of the mess you made, share how much you did or didn’t enjoy creating that thing that made you uncomfortable.

Magazines and books in a wall rack

DAY 5: COMMUNITY

The goal: to strengthen your bonds with your community, your customers, your clients, your fellow small biz owners, so that Instagram feels as authentic, positive, and nourishing for your wellbeing as a real-life cuppa with someone you love

Challenge : Celebrate your community!

– Life is too short to play it cool. Tell your people why you love what they do, let them know that their work has changed your life, tell them how seen they make you feel, tell them that the world is a better place because of what they do! We are all just out there doing our best and the ripple effect of every small business is huge. Make time in your week to tag your favourite people. Invite them to this challenge. Share the love.

Find a creative way to celebrate those people – a round up in stories, a video where you talk about each person – just make sure you tag them in so they can feel the love! You never know, it might just be the boost they need that day.

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As a thank you for joining in we are offering one person the chance to win some wonderful goodies from 91 Magazine and Century General Store. All you have to do to be in with a chance of winning is tag @91magazine, @centurygeneralstore and use the hashtag #bemyvalentineinstagram.

We will select the winner at the end of the challenge.

– Prize: 1 x care package by Century Home Store and 1 x Quiet Moment gift box from 91 Magazine

A FINAL THOUGHT:

Try not to become fixated on numbers and stats and focus on what Instagram gives you in terms of creativity and connection. Consider turning off the like count on your posts (click the 3 dots at the top of the post and choose ‘hide like count’) If a post doesn’t get the engagement you’d hoped for, remember it’s just one tiny part of the bigger picture, and that if you enjoyed creating it, then that is enough. We hope that these mini challenges might help you to fall back in love with Instagram, we can’t wait to see your love stories!

Join our Valentine’s challenge and fall back in love with Instagram!

#bemyvalentineinstagram

Photography by Studio Gently and Caroline Rowland

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