So you wanna start a #t1d instagram...
Updated: Dec 9, 2020
I'm celebrating myself today because ONE YEAR ago I took a huge leap of faith and started talking about my journey with type one diabetes on Instagram!
I have had diabetes for more than two decades, but the majority of those years I spent hiding my diabetes or brushing it off as "no big deal". I swear, some of my friends still don't know I have it! But after taking control of my health and finally getting my a1c in range in 2019, I had a new-found confidence and finally felt proud of all the strength and perseverance that it takes to live with this disease. I was half-way through a group coaching program, where I had met so many incredible t1d ladies, and decided that I wanted to expand my community and also share how I went from not-so-great control to living my best life!
And so one morning while lying in bed, the idea for the name "beets and betes" popped into my head. I can't take full credit, it was actually my husband who gave me the idea. You see, he calls me "beet" like as a pet name (I have no idea where it comes from haha). And somehow when he said it that morning I made the connection: Beet (my name), beets (like the food), and betes (dia-BETES)! It felt so perfectly aligned I felt no choice to pursue it! So after many many revisions of my first ever post, I finally did it. And the rest is history! (you can see my first post below (cringe-- it's like listening to a recording of your own voice! haha) and the picture I chose because I had just spent two weeks in Colorado hiking. I thought it was a good representation of the "journey" or "path" that I was on :))
Honestly, that first post was the hardest. Even though I had zero followers, I still felt this immense pressure to get every single word right. And looking back, I think I did, because I still align with every word that I wrote.
I get a fair amount of questions on Instagram now about people wanting to start documenting their own t1d or health journies and I always tell them that it's the best decision that I ever made! I've learned a few things about Instagram and joining the #DOC (diabetic online community) over the past year, so I wanted to share my tips below!
(These are tips that I have found work well, by are no means "rules" for Instagram haha. Take what serves you and leave what doesn't'!)
Be yourself (duh). This one seems so obvious, but it's really easy on Instagram to get inspired to the point that you try to be someone else. Inspiration is not a bad thing, but it can get in the way of showing up as your authentic self if you're not careful. I usually write my posts when I have a clear mind, at the beginning of the day, before I start scrolling. That way I know they are authentically coming from my heart and not from a place of comparison. A great thing to do before starting your account is to set an intention. Why are you here? Write it down (or make it your bio!) to remind yourself (and let others know!). This could change over time, but it's a nice place to return to if you're feeling lost.
Look for friends, not followers. It's easier said than done, but paying too close attention to followers, likes, and comments can get overwhelming, obsessive, and overall suck the "connection" out of Instagram. When I find my intention on Instagram starting to waiver to a place of numbers, I take a big step back and remind myself that I'm here for the connection, to feel supported in my journey, and to inspire others to thrive with t1d. Anything beyond that isn't important. Of course, it can be more fun to be on Instagram when there is more connection, but I promise that comes naturally with time and showing up as your authentic self!
Connect genuinely. If someone is posting things that really resonate with you, let them know! While scrolling mindlessly can pass the time, Instagram becomes so much more special when you put your heart into it. Reach out to people who inspire you! You never know what could lead to an incredible conversation in DMs :)!
Be active. No, not like exercise. What I mean is the more you post, the more people you will connect with. And just like exercise, the more consistent you are, the more you will get out of it (although there is a limit, see next bullet). It doesn't have to be anything elaborate, and there is no special number for how much to post or respond, but if you want to get to know people, then you have to put in the effort!
But set yourself boundaries. Don't forget about real life. I like to set 15-20 minutes 1-2 times per day to scroll and engage with people. I literally set a timer. If I'm having a good conversation, I'll go over that, but I try to keep my time spent on social media intentional. Other ways to set boundaries: app usage timers (great for awareness), social media breaks, turn off notifications
The 1% rule. Even if you are being vulnerable and "real" on Instagram, it's still only showing about 1% of your day (that is, if you share 15 minutes of your day everyday... which is actually a lot of posting). And therefore that's all you will see of others as well. Don't judge yourself or others about what they chose to share/not share.
Use relevant hashtags. They're not necessary, but hashtags are a great way to connect with a broader audience, especially when you're first getting started. Only use hashtags that are relevant to your particular post so that you show up in relevant feeds.
Be respectful and stand up for what is right. There's a lot of hate on social media (sadly), but there is also a lot of love, courage, and social justice. Follow people who inspire you, and also those that may challenge your views. You never know what you may learn. Follow people of diverse races, backgrounds, ages, countries, etc. and use social media as a way to expand your understanding of the world and of t1d! But also, remember social media is not regulated in terms of information so take what you hear with a grain of salt, and do your own research to verify facts (ESPECIALLY when it comes to nutritional and medical advice. Always work with your endo/care team and don't trust everything you hear on social!)
Keep an open mind. People, especially when it comes to t1d, may have different approaches to their health and care. Don't give unsolicited advice or judge people, as you may not know their full story.
Have fun! If it's not fun, it's probably not worth doing!