This isn’t a new topic. The conversation started when Instagram first became a popular platform for fashion bloggers (circa 2012?), and as it continues to gain popularity as a social network, the chatter continues…
As an aspiring style blogger, I thought it was time to add my two cents.
First, let me just say that Instagram is my jam. I don’t spend nearly as much time on Facebook anymore, and my interest in learning photography has increased significantly (especially after becoming a mom.) I absolutely love this platform and will use it as long as it’s available to me. I’m obsessed with mom bloggers, fashion pages, and people who take great photos, and am always adding eye-candy to my feed.
But, when push comes to shove, the good ol’ fashioned blog is still my first love.
For hobbyist fashionistas, Instagram may be perfectly suitable as a blogging platform. But for serious fashion bloggers and people who are looking to build a business that hinges on continual content creation, there are several reasons why I think you should never rely solely on social media.
Reason #1: Social media platforms could disappear at any moment. Remember Myspace? Probably not if you were born after 1998 . . . but if you’re as old as I am, you may have a bout of nostalgia at the mere mention of the world’s first major social network. We all thought Myspace would be around forever. Well, it’s still around—rebranded, in fact—but it lost its popularity long ago. And whether we want to believe it or not, the same thing could easily happen with Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat or any of the other “greats,” at any moment.
In an instant, you could lose all of your photos, your entire following, and the income stream that you’ve built up on social media. Having a blog that you own ensures that if something happens to your social media content, you still have a backup.
Reason #2: Instagram limits the type of content you can post. Captioned photos and 15-second videos are all you get. And since they shortened the number of characters that are shown below a photo without you having to tap to read more, it’s much harder to engage in meaningful conversation that increases engagement and boosts your following.
On the other hand, blogs help you build bigger conversations and allow for different forms and lengths of media to contribute to them. You can mix things up. On Monday, you might post a text-heavy rant about what your favorite celebrity wore on the red carpet. On Wednesday, you might do an image-heavy personal style post to show off what you wore to an event or celebration. And then on Friday, you might do a video makeup tutorial or a #followfriday roundup where you curate content from some of your other favorite fashion bloggers.
The point is, there’s a lot more room for variety with a blog than there is with a social network like Instagram. And if you’re looking to work with brands, variety is key. Brands prefer to work with publishers who can reach a wide audience with many different content types.
If your blog is mainly a personal style blog, then Instagram is probably enough. But to build a really successful fashion blogging business, it’s important to engage in meaningful conversation related to your blog’s niche topics. And to do so often requires more than posting pictures of what you wore to your cousin’s wedding.
Reason #3: It’s harder to gauge the sincerity of a social media following. When people take the time to comment on your blog, it communicates to readers that you have an engaged audience. Commenting on a social media post or photo doesn’t take as much effort—in fact, many comments are auto-generated through various third-party apps in an effort to boost followings and are often generic as a result.
With social media platforms, there’s no way to know if the 100K followers a fashion blogger has are truly engaging with that person’s content or if they were paid for. Brands prefer to work with publishers who have a genuinely engaged following—even if that following is small.
Reason #4: It’s easier to build up visibility and traffic fast with a blog. This is arguable, and you may not agree. But in my opinion, SEO still makes a difference, and blogs provide a more robust platform for optimizing your content than social networks. Sure, Facebook pages and Youtube videos may show up in Google’s organic search results, but having a blog gives you an additional piece of real estate that has a chance of being picked up by the big G’s algorithm. Also, Instagram won’t let you post links, but you can post as many as you want to on your blog and promote your content through multiple social channels, which further widens the door of opportunity.
Reason #5: It’s harder to fully tell your story through a social media platform. Your story is at the center of your brand, so it’s important to provide clarity when telling it. While Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter can help get your brand in front of a lot of people, and can even play a part in communicating to the public who you are, a blog enables you to tell your story in a way that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to. For starters, your about page is not limited to 140 characters. Also, social media platforms have a reputation for housing a lot of fake content. Most of us only post our good side on Instagram or Facebook, but we’re willing to dig a little deeper—to show the good, the bad, and the ugly—on our blogs, because we know it helps us to connect more intimately with our readers. At the end of the day, people will be more likely to want to follow you if they can relate to you, and being real helps ensure that.
In the words of Jennine Jacob, who contributed to this conversation back in 2012 on IFB:
“Instagram hasn’t created the death of fashion blogs, but the platform has caused a rethinking of what is exactly post-worthy. Perhaps it just means it’s time to create deeper content than just a quick statement about what I’m wearing at the moment.”
As a fashion blogger, I challenge you to go forth and start creating more meaningful content!