Deep Thoughts on Instagram & Taylor Swift.

Oct 13 2015

by Shayna Hobbs


Lesson 1: Growing a following on Instagram. It Starts with YOU.

crate styled with books
Photo by Shayna Hobbs at their Sons of Sawdust workshop.


So, Taylor Swift just hit 50 million followers on Instagram, and is now officially the most popular Instagram account. It definitely might help that she’s, uhh, FAMOUS, but I think there are some things we can learn from Tay Tay. She probably knows a bit about her fans and what they like, but I think her feed is more about who she is.

When running a business Instagram account, it’s so important to know your audience, your clients, and your followers. Social media makes it easy these days with instant feedback(or the sound of crickets) to gather statistics about what you’re posting. Using this information, a business can know all kinds of things about their followers, from what day of the week and what time they are most engaged in posts, to what type of post they are responding to. But there is one area in the world of social media that no analytics could ever help you discover, and no statistics will be able to make clearer to you, and that is the truth about who you are. Ultimately, your brand comes back to you, who you are as a person and what you are about. I joke about it sometimes, but I honestly think that it should be a prerequisite before you start a business, to go through therapy or counseling. Work out your past, people. Some sassy girl in high-top Reeboks, may have stolen your Doritos every day in 2nd grade, but that does not make you a weak and uncool person for life!( I eventually stood up to her.)

The core of your business starts with you. If you don’t know who you are, what you desire, where you need to grow, what you need to work on, what you dream of, what drives you, or what makes you laugh…..then you will not be able to promote your business. Well, you could still promote it, but I can tell you one thing it will lack for sure, and that’s authenticity. I believe people are seeking out and looking for authenticity these days. They want something real. I mean T. Swift, she’s keepin it real y’all. Crazy cat pictures and all. But truthfully, I believe she knows who she is, what she loves and what she wants to do with her life and her career, and that shows in her Instagram feed.

So, how do you get to the core of who you are? Maybe you’re not comfortable with that, or with the fact that you might have to be honest, real, or vulnerable? It can be a scary thing. Like Alfred Hitchcock “The Birds” kind-of-scary. You have to be willing to let people in, share some of your story, share some of your struggles. Notice, I said “some”, because you don’t need to fill people in on EVERY struggle, or every detail of your entire life. You should share enough to let people get to know you. Whether you have a business selling handmade pillows, or you’re a fashion consultant, or you own a used car lot, there is something in you, or something about your life that made you start out on this path. Know what that is. Get comfortable talking about it, and the bits and pieces of your story. Maybe in 8th grade the only recognition you ever received from anyone, was when you brought those made-from-scratch rice krispie treats to the fall bake sale. Oh, hey, you there, with the krispie treats business. Hey! Why have you not told that story?! Or maybe you were a little rebellious, and got kicked out of school, but now you’re running a successful magazine. Maybe share a little about the struggles that shaped you, woke you up, and brought you to this point in life?( or maybe talk about your Mama who threatened to tan your hide if you didn’t get your act together.) That’s what people want to hear, the real stuff. That’s what people connect with. Take a look at who you admire, who you follow, brands you connect with, businesses you support. I bet the reason you follow them has something to do with their story, and what they’re about? Maybe not. But maybe…..YES. Maybe yes. 

In our business Sons of Sawdust, it took me a little bit of time to figure out what our main pillars were. Now, after finding our path, we know exactly what we are about. We have gotten comfortable sharing stories of brokenness, and loss as well as stories of triumph and laughter on our Instagram feed. By weaving that together with what we’re making and doing in our business, on a daily basis, I believe this is what has drawn people in and helps them to connect with us.

Your homework for this week: get to know you. As the popular ballad from the 80’s said “I’ve been to paradise, but I’ve never been to me.” Go to you for a little bit. Do that. Focus on you, and your brand, and stop thinking about the customer, client, or follower for just a second. Of course they are super important but it starts with you. If you don’t know who you are and what you want to represent as a business or brand, then how can you effectively support or help a client? It’s kind of that  “you have to love yourself first” before you can love others well. Or that airplane thing, where you put the breathing mask on first, before you help your child. Or the test the dessert thing, where you take a bite of the brownies before anyone else does because you have to make sure they taste ok… right?

Take some time this week, maybe with a cup of coffee and a notebook at your desk, write out your answers to these questions. Or Option 2: Grab a beer/glass of wine/cocktail of your choice and in your oldest sweatpants from middle school, sit on the cozy couch, and write your thoughts on these things. Don’t be afraid to get deep. Things are about to get real up in here. You better brace yourself.

Questions to work on:

  1. What am I passionate about? What gets me excited?
  2. Why am I pursuing the business/career that I’m pursuing?
  3. What are some hard or difficult things in my story that would be worth sharing? What are some meaningful things in my story I need to share?
  4. How can I grow as a whole person and as a brand? What does it look like for me to move forward?
  5. What are my hopes and dreams for the future of this business/career?
  6. How can I showcase and highlight my strengths, talents, gifts, loves and unique personality through my posts ?


Now that you’re done, (I know where to find you. I have a special tool called the INTERNET and I will be able to see if you wrote all of this down. Joking.) You may have had the biggest epiphany of your life and realized you’re in the wrong career! OR you may have a renewed sense of purpose and excitement, OR… may have just had a major emotional breakdown and need another box of tissues because you’ve been crying your eyes out. Either way. Well done. Congrats! You did it. Tomorrow is a new day, and you’re on the right path to knowing yourself better, knowing your brand better, getting as many followers as Taylor Swift and being able to promote and market yourself through social media in a more authentic way. Cheers!

Now, go eat some donuts and binge watch on Netflix! Kidding. But really, you earned it. Or maybe just do some yoga instead, but no donuts… well, maybe a gluten free mini donut. I mean hey, they’re mini. Come on.


Shayna Hobbs View More Blog Posts from this Author

Shayna grew up in Nashville, Tennesssee but now calls Athens, Georgia home. She works alongside her husband Matt, running social media and marketing for their business Sons of Sawdust. She is also their creative director, photographer, and dance video creator-extraordinaire. Shayna teaches workshops on how to tell your story through social media. She's a musician, and artist who loves to be inspired by the music and art that her own two children make at home.

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One response on “Deep Thoughts on Instagram & Taylor Swift.

  1. Cheri Leavy

    great post Shayna! I recommend everyone go check out Sons of Sawdust on Instagram and find their dance videos. It will bring you instant joy!

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