– Or How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Become An Instagrammer!
A blog post by Greg
The year was 2003, probably May, definitely a weekday, and at around eleven in the morning (I know this, because it would have been morning break), in ‘F Block’, outside the ‘Design Technology’ classroom, when my head of Sixth Form was discussing the fact that I would soon be leaving Sixth Form, the same school I had attended since I had been eleven. For seven years of my life I had trod the corridors, wandered the playgrounds and fields, performed on the stage, studied in the library, and visited those strange boxes known as ‘classrooms’.
I was talking to the Head of Sixth Form, Mr Berry, and my long suffering ex-GCSE electronics teacher Mr Gooding about the approaching exams and leaving the school, when Mr Berry posed a very interesting question.
“Are you going to miss the school?”
“Oh, yeah, I’ll miss this place,” I replied quick as a flash, my voice dripping with sarcasm.
“Are you being sarcastic?” he asked.
There was a long pause. I thought about the question, weighing up everything, considering my answer carefully.
“Only half sarcastic,” I told him.
This caused much laughter between the two teachers, before Mr Berry told me that if I were to write an autobiography one day I would have to call it ‘Only Half Sarcastic’.
I often think of that conversation, and of the chain of thought that led up to it, because I think it was one of the most (potentially only) truly profound things that I said as a teenager. I knew what I was going to miss about the school, I was going to miss having the time to focus on learning.
Not, I will be honest, in the classrooms (with the exception of seven years of Drama and Theatre Studies lessons with Mrs Burford, who is one of the six people that I generally credit for me being the performer I am today). This is not the fault of the teachers, it is just that I am not very good at being ‘taught’. I have always preferred to seek out information and learn myself. I read the course books, but never did my homework. I mostly chatted with my friends in class, or tried to find in the textbooks what the teachers were talking about, but rarely actually listened to the teachers. Lunchtimes would usually find me in the drama studio rehearsing or in the library poring over books while chatting with friends. The whole day could be spent learning, interrupted only by people telling me to stop reading the book because they were trying to teach me!
I really enjoy learning, and it is how I approach most things in the business side of my life. When I started out as an actor I studied everything I could find about acting, from Stanislavski’s ‘An Actor Prepares’ to Michael Caine’s ‘Acting On Camera’. When I started to learn magic it was by reading as many magic books as I could, and my real association began when I was allowed to borrow books from my director’s magic library in Italy.
When I started on filmmaking, and to this day, I read books on the subject (I have just started re-reading a book about field sound recording to help improve our next videos), and this was also when YouTube tutorial videos started becoming a useful guide on every topic, even though it may take time to work through many videos to find the points of interest you need (which is why books will always be my first choice).
When Felicity and I started to make our documentaries I started studying independent film marketing and distribution, and this really did require a lot of YouTube videos as the situation is constantly changing in both of these areas, and so I still watch several videos a week looking for new techniques and ideas as we continue to learn the best ways to get our films seen by large numbers of people.
The reason that all this is on my mind today is that I have recently started learning something new, and something I hadn’t expected to be learning. I am now spending a lot of my time learning how to become an Instagram ‘Influencer’, much as I had no desire to be known by that term! I am a traveller, an entertainer, a magician and a filmmaker. At 37 years old can I really be an Instagrammer? Why would I?
The why is quite simple. To help us with our other projects. Some of the people we are trying to work with to make our travel and nature based documentaries want to know how big a reach we have, how useful we will be to them from a promotional standpoint, beyond our interest in how many people watch our documentaries. The metric which has been brought up a few times now is the number of followers we have on Instagram, and our ‘engagement rate’ on there – we haven’t actually had any other social media platforms mentioned to us – which means that we need an Instagram following!
For those of you who don’t really know what Instagram is (my hand would have been up a month ago) it is a social media platform built around images – mainly photos but short videos and graphics as well. Yes, there is writing there in the form of ‘captions’ for each photograph, but on the whole it is image based – a bonus for us as with the travel and nature documentaries what we do is also heavily image based, although more with videos than photographs, but we have an abundance of behind the scenes photographs and can always pull stills from the documentaries!
Instagram currently has 1,130,000,000 users (according to a quick google search), of which we need tens of thousands to follow us in order to be considered at the ‘influencer’ level for the type of places which we want to work with. 91% of users (approximately – these are all the best numbers I can find in a quick google search) have fewer than 10,000 followers, and more than half have fewer than 1,000 followers (including us at the time of writing this blog, although we’re closing in on that first 1,000!) This means that we have to get ourselves into the 9% of users (in fact, it is more like the top 5% to get the numbers we are looking at!). Plus we have to make sure we keep the followers engaged – it is no good getting 10,000 followers who aren’t interested in our posts!
How can we possibly go from nowhere to being in the top 5% of users on the platform? It feels almost like standing at the bottom of a sheer and ridiculously high mountain and needing to climb to the top!
Well, to push the analogy a little, if I were at the bottom of that mountain the first thing I would do would be to find somebody who knew a lot about mountain climbing and ask them for advice about where to start. I would also go to my friends and see if there was anyone who could point me in the right direction.
So that is what I am doing now. I am seeking out videos and articles about Instagram, trying to find out who seems to know what they are talking about, and who can provide the tips we need. I am making notes of good ideas and trying them out, I am seeing what advice is suggested by multiple people.
I also went to our friends and asked them for help, which gave us our first few hundred followers (by the way, if you have an Instagram account, now would be the perfect time to follow us at www.instagram.com/gregandfelicity).
Of course, the majority of people on Instagram are using it for fun, to connect with people and subjects that interest them, and to follow businesses that they like. It is also a joy to engage with other people on Instagram, to see photographs from fellow travellers, and to be able to read and share thoughts on different places. I must say, having always heard how negative social media is, and having seen some of it over the past year on Twitter and Facebook, it is refreshing to go onto Instagram and (because of what we do), see a feed filled with far off places, incredible creatures and, because they seem popular, beautiful sunsets.
Learning how to become an ‘influencer’ was never something I had any interest in, it was never a goal. It still isn’t a goal as such, it is a subset of our main goal of seeing the world and sharing our adventures through videos, this blog, and now through photographs on Instagram as well.
To me though, it feels so nice to be starting to learn something new. Of course there is crossover with what we have learned about YouTube, but the rules are all different! So each day I am reading, watching, learning and hopefully that will keep us moving steadily in the right direction.
Now I’m off to find out what I should be doing with a ‘reel’ or what I’m doing wrong with my ‘stories’, or some other little hint that will help us grow, and help me to learn!
Happy adventuring, and please, take unbelievably good care of yourselves, and of each other!
If you enjoyed this blog post, please leave a comment and say ‘hello’!
For information on all of our projects, visit: www.gregandfelicityadventures.com
Follow us on Instagram at: https://www.instagram.com/gregandfelicity
Like us on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/GregandFelicityAdventures
There are various places you can watch our documentaries and series!
Seeking Cetaceans In Scotland: A two-part documentary about the work of the Cetacean Research and Rescue Unit as they work to help whales, dolphins and porpoises in the Moray Firth in Scotland:
Buy it to watch now on Amazon’s Prime Video at:
(Greg and Felicity are donating half of our income from the Amazon sales on this documentary to support the CRRU).
Available to buy on DVD (with £5 from each donated to the charity): https://ko-fi.com/s/73e469d114
ROMANIA: SEEKING DRACULA’S CASTLE: Our travel documentary looking into the history, legend and castles connected to Vlad Dracula III, sometimes known as Vlad the Impaler, and a journey around Romania:
Free Worldwide on Plex: https://watch.plex.tv/movie/romania-seeking-draculas-castle
Free (USA) on Tubi: https://tubitv.com/movies/579192/romania-seeking-dracula-s-castle
Prime Video (From £1.99, no Ads) (UK): https://www.amazon.co.uk//dp/B08RDPZP14
Prime Video (From $1.99, no Ads) (USA): https://www.amazon.com/dp/B08RDJR4F2
TURKEY: FAIRY CHIMNEYS AND UNDERGROUND CITIES: A travel documentary across Turkey, from the Fairy Chimneys and Underground Cities of Cappadocia to the ancient Greek ruins of Ephesus and Hierapolis:
Prime Video UK (From £2.49, no Ads): https://www.amazon.co.uk/Turkey-Fairy-Chimneys-Underground-Cities/dp/B09KKSZLRW
Prime Video USA (From $1.99, no Ads): https://www.amazon.com/Turkey-Fairy-Chimneys-Underground-Cities/dp/B09KK6VDJB
Free Worldwide on Plex: https://watch.plex.tv/movie/turkey-fairy-chimneys-and-underground-cities
Free (USA) on Tubi: https://tubitv.com/movies/579225/turkey-fairy-chimneys-and-underground-cities
Greg Chapman’s Magic Show: An eight-part series of magic and entertainment with Greg:
Free worldwide on Plex: https://watch.plex.tv/show/greg-chapmans-magic-show/season/1
Available to buy on DVD: https://ko-fi.com/s/7c1bc10a08
Mexico: Mayan Mystery and Marine Majesty: Filmed on our honeymoon in Mexico in 2019, our first travel documentary took us through the ancient sites of Teotihuacan, Uxmal, El Tajin, Palenque, Chichen Itza and Calakmul, and then on to see the whales of Magdalena Bay, whale sharks of La Paz, and more.
Watch free on YouTube: https://youtu.be/yfMpD868MHU
The Isle of Man: Railways, Castles and Seals: Our second travel documentary took us to the Isle of Man!
Watch free on YouTube: https://youtu.be/uCpUa6XEkbg