Back on the 'stack
Instagram can go to hell (just don't tell them I said it).
Warning: there are NO pictures in this post. None. None. NONE.
With social media, I vacillate a lot. Some days it feels like the stars are aligned and other days I feel like I’m on a different planet. Is it supposed to feel this way?
I’ve obviously seen the most growth on Instagram over the years, and y’all know I’ve had my issues with the platform. And y’all know how frustrating it’s been for me and my business. But Instagram… Instagram is just too fickle of a platform to fully rely on. Two months ago, my IG account reached more than 1.5 million users. Last month? 27k users. Huh?
Sons of Black Maria and I planned a couple of posts of the Air Max 1 Ugly Ducks…the sons created these *incredible* images and I wrote some stupid little captions. One of the posts reached 30,000+ accounts and the second one reached 3,000+ accounts. Pretty much the SAME EXACT content, one hitting nearly 10x the range as the other. Is that how this stuff is supposed to work? This stuff all feels like a crapshoot.
Does anyone really know? From what I heard, IG deprioritized something they had previously prioritized. Sweet. But…is that the case with my account? I wasn’t knocking it out of the park with reels. But why the dramatic variances? Can anyone tell?
All of this clearly matters. It matters for growth and it matters for money and it matters for exposure and sales and blah blah blah. But…in my case…should it matter?
Have you ever stopped to wonder…What am I really doing this for? What am I really on social media talking about sneakers for? Am I doing it for attention? For money? For myself?
I initially started on Instagram as a friend suggested I needed it if I were to build a Sneaker Grading business, which I started around 2014…I was against the idea. I was actually kind of over social media by that point, having run my course through Friendster, MySpace, and then Facebook. Instagram just seemed like it was too much for me. What would I need another social media account for? Couldn’t I just showcase the product through eBay? Against my better wishes, my friend started it up for me…he got the ball rolling and coached me through the first few months of posts. I was getting more traction on IG than I was eBay.
At first, it seemed like a load of nonsense. I was posting a bunch of boring content related to the business, and although I saw some growth, I didn’t really feel like it was interesting. That all changed when I started sharing more personal stories and began to phase out the posturing…
What was once an account about the technical aspects of sneaker grading soon became more of a ‘sneaker stream of consciousness’ account…more like a blog than anything. And that’s where I really started to see growth.
It was weird, mostly because the goal (of building a business and brand) hadn’t really changed, but my methods of delivering information did. And…it got to a point…where it seemed like the branding didn’t match my persona. And it still doesn’t. My branding is judicious and serious…but I’m kind of a smart-ass and spend a bit of time crafting my opinions…they don’t really mix.
But all of that aside…I guess the question I’m face with is…why am I doing this? Why am I still posting on IG? What exactly is the goal?
There’s this super-annoying thing that appears to be going on with my IG explore page right now… I’m noticing two types of videos that seem to be popping into my feed more and more: (1) these staged 'smack a stranger on the ass' videos and (2) these entirely ludicrous 'growth hack' accounts that exist for the primary purpose of showing us how to get more followers on IG. The first type of post makes me cringe, but the second - it appears that the only accounts (besides celebrity accounts) experiencing the most growth on IG are the ones posting content about how to achieve more growth. And that’s ALL they’re posting: tips on how to get more followers. These people could be serial killers for all we know, and everyone is just clicking that 'follow' button because they think they’re gonna learn how to get a few more followers. Is that what IG is about? Cyclical much?
So the other day, my homie tells me that someone was giving him 'advice' on growing his following, and he says, 'in order to see growth, you’ve gotta post at least 4 times per day…'
I immediately responded with…”What?”
My first question to my dude was, 'wouldn’t the guy posting 5 times a day do better than the guy posting 4 times a day? And then the guy posting 7 times a day would certainly drown out the guy posting 4 times a day, right? And at what point do we reach the law of diminishing returns?'
And so, yeah, call me Nostradamus. Because not even a month later, I saw one of those 'growth hack' account reels saying you should be posting '5-7 times per day.' WTF. How does one find time for actual life and living when you’re posting every 2 hours? Don’t y’all have anything better to do?
And that brings up another good question… what exactly is 'good' sneaker content? Is it news? Is it screenshots of stuff pulled off other social media accounts? Is it unboxing? Is it leaks or news or info about release dates? Is it videos that you have trouble turning away from? Is it AI-generated stories and images? Is it personal stories? Jokes? Memes? History?
For whatever reason, a lot of the content coming out of the majors is actually pretty mesmerizing. I mean, not the crap about 'upcoming releases' or 'guy cuts off a zip tie', but the stuff that you don’t even realize you’ve been hooked into watching. I don’t know if it’s actually any good, but it makes you stop for a second. And that pause… I often find myself transfixed when I recognize that quarter of a second. It ropes me in. Simply scrolling without even looking at who posted it - I’m immediately invested in the outcome of the video, and I cannot, for the life of me, understand how or why. But it never fails. It’s not causing me to want to buy anything… as far as I know… but it is consuming my attention, of which I have only a small amount to spare. They’ve figured it out.
There is a point where all of this becomes entirely useless and completely untenable. And… for what…? What are we even trying to do? What is the point of 'sneaker content'? Are we just here to keep the machine running? Are we here to keep giving our time, our energy, and our money to these companies that aren’t paying us? Are we really THAT addicted?
But it seems like… good and memorable content should have a goal or a mission other than to just consume your attention. Even if the goal or the mission is half-baked or not fully thought out. I was also thinking of this when I was walking around sneakercon a couple of months ago - I saw ALL of these big time sneaker content folks walking around searching for content opportunities. It was weird… but it was also like… 'oh, this is what these people do DO.'
Over the years, I’ve had like 987 different goals or missions with my content. And maybe that’s why I struggle with it. I wouldn’t say I’m easily swayed; however, I can be easily influenced… or… easily inspired. Ideas come to me, and I explore them, and sometimes they fly, and sometimes they fall flat.
The other day, someone I really respect said that I was 'reporting' on something, and I thought… 'is that how people look at me and my content? As if I’m some kind of news journalist?'
I’m not a journalist. I don’t get paid to do this. But… it’s interesting that some of y’all look at me like that.
I feel like it’s more of an online diary than anything. Just a record of my thoughts throughout the years. And it can be fascinating to look back on. I started journaling when I was 14 years old while living in the UK and I journaled a few years later when I went on my solo trip through Europe. I journaled a few years after that when I first moved to New York. I journaled a few years later when I traveled all throughout Asia and Europe and Africa. I find it therapeutic to just brain vomit from time to time, especially when coming up against new situations. And now… it appears that that’s what I’m doing on IG… I’m journaling. And with that comes the realization that I’m really just doing this for myself… and if I’m doing this for myself… why in … why in the hell am I doing this on IG??
Fact is, good content isn’t always good. Sometimes it’s terrible. And doing it all on your own, with limited attention, it can get difficult. But the goal is still debatable. At this point… I think it’s more to clear my mind than it is for external validation. So, I’ve decided to take my talents back to the most creator-friendly platform. Substack.
I’m back on the stack. Hit that like and subscribe and follow button and share it with your homies. Let’s get this one here poppin’.