With everything that’s been going on socially and culturally over the past few years, I’ve heard so many online business owners saying things like, “I want to speak up, but I’m afraid of saying the wrong thing,” or “How do I know when to talk about something, or when to take more time to process?” That’s why I wanted to have Natasha Samuel on the show. Natasha is an Instagram Strategist, but she doesn’t just talk about how to shine online. She doesn’t shy away from taking a stance on social topics that she’s passionate about, and she’s been intentional about cultivating a brand that welcomes all people. In this episode, Natasha shares how knowing and owning your personal and brand values can help you be a more inclusive leader. We’ll also chat about life lessons that have impacted her, and Instagram strategy (of course!).
Natasha is the host of The Shine Online Podcast and an Instagram Strategist that helps small businesses shine online. Through intensive strategy days, digital resources, and education, Natasha helps you build your brand on the ‘Gram with a video strategy that is fulfilling and fun without the overwhelm.
As a college student, Natasha had the opportunity to intern for a woman who had her own business. This introduced her to the possibility of building her own dream. Natasha was studying Public Relations in school, so she was getting a lot of experience in things like digital marketing and social media. While she thought her long-term internship would be her route to a full-time job after graduation, she ended up being let go. This led her to deciding to start her business Sol Studio, which is now Shine with Natasha.
In the summer of 2020, the Black Lives Matter movement spiked in the United States. “It was really brought to the online space in a way that it had never been discussed before,” Natasha remembers. As a Black-owned Business that her audience already loved, her account got shared. She was one of the voices online that many people turned to, and she went “mini-viral.”
The growth was a blessing that propelled her business forward, but it also came with challenges. Natasha had the opportunity to do things she dreamed of, like speaking at LaterCon and Create & Cultivate. But behind the scenes, there were growing pains. Natasha admits that almost 2 years later, her team has just reached a point where things feel more stable. Having systems and processes in place has helped them to grow with the business.
“For a long time, I was just overwhelmed…I think that’s what led me to burnout of social media management…I don’t think it was because I didn’t love social media management. ” Natasha explained. Juggling a now blossoming personal brand and client accounts, she decided to stop offering social media management services. Natasha remembers this being a pivotal point in her journey.
I asked Natasha how she goes about deciding if and when she will speak publicly on what’s happening in the world.
“Coming from a PR background and being in social media, naturally, my reaction – and what I’ve been trained to do – is to respond in a really eloquent way to make everyone feel comfortable. And I think during that whole year , I had to rethink what that looked like for my brand specifically, but for my clients as well because those cookie cutter responses weren’t cutting it. And for a lot of people, like myself, it didn’t feel good, either.” Natasha began.
Her best advice is to start by understanding the difference between your personal and business values. There will be some overlap, but not always. When there is overlap, it’s probably a topic that’s important for you to speak up on as a business owner.
If you’re afraid of what people might think when you stand up for your values, remember that it’s okay to repel people. “If people want to unfollow me because of [something that I value], great, because we probably wouldn’t have been a great fit anyways.”
As far as taking time to process things goes, Natasha believes that it’s okay to pause when there’s a lot going on. Give yourself grace to process it all as a person before reacting as a business.
“By showing up, and by hiring other People of Color, and investing in other People of Color, and sharing their content and supporting them in the most authentic way possible, that’s how we create a space where we see more people where we see…’I can look up to them, I can relate to them.'”
Natasha offered the reminder that social media should be enjoyable, and you should feel good about showing up for your community. If you don’t, let’s find a way to make it feel better.
Asking yourself these questions can help you figure out your plan:
Natasha says that the cycles of burnout and inconsistency (posting for 2 weeks, then not posting for a month) happen because there’s no plan to reference. That’s why the questions above are so important!
Some of the Instagram tips that Natasha mentioned above are things that I associate with her (like considering social media boundaries in your strategy. So, I asked how she went about differentiating herself within the social media education space! Here’s what she shared:
“It took time, it took experimenting, it took failing. And it took really figuring out what ‘my thing’ was, what my methodology was, what I believed in, what I saw the best results in.” Natasha explained, sharing that this took about 2 years. Even though she loves collaborating, Natasha mentioned that consuming a lot less from competitors helped with this as well.
Just like with choosing what to speak up on, understanding and owning your values can help you differentiate your brand, too!
If you loved what Natasha had to share today, be sure to follow her on Instagram @shinewithnatasha. (I follow her, and am constantly saving her posts as reminders!). On her website, shinewithnatasha.com, you’ll find a free Instagram video guide. And Natasha is a fellow podcaster, too! Be sure to tune in and subscribe to The Shine Online Podcast.
Natasha’s website also has more information on the Instagram Confidence Accelerator program that she mentioned in the episode.