Through the Lens: @alwayssssleep
May 17, 2017
Welcome to our newest series “Through The Lens,” conversations with the creatives behind the most impressive brands’ Instagram feeds.
If you’ve been anywhere on Instagram, you’ve undoubtedly run into the dreamy hotel and bedroom wonderland that is @alwayssssleep by happening upon the feed itself or via someone else’s regram.
The latter is precisely how we fell down this sleepy rabbit hole, and while we’re not at liberty to share our sources, it might’ve been a certain powerhouse female entrepreneur who founded a beauty site that spawned a beauty brand who re-posted the feed a few years back.
We’ve been—legitimately no pun intended—dreaming vicariously through Thayer Joyce since then. @alwayssssleep is her nights-and-weekends project, and it’s flamboyantly dedicated to the indulgence of truly great rest. Considering most of us do it daily, sleep’s not a particularly novel subject. But it can, apparently, be the entire focus of an Instagram feed.
Thayer’s in marketing, and each of her posts telegraphs her deftness for putting a consistent stamp on something universal. In Thayer’s world, sleep isn’t merely the limbic brain’s attempt to gear us up or another day. It’s an Ambien-fueled, messy, sexy, lived-in, sybaritic tangle of sheets.
Maybe doctors would caution you against the blue-light emittance, but scrollling @alwayssssleep feels like the alternative to counting sheep.
Most of the photos are hers. Some are not. But in total, Thayer’s feed demands you deep-dive. So we did just that, and went one step further: asking her what choices she makes to define and express a brand through Instagram. And, of course, how to sleep better.
We brought up ten aspects of what a marketer might call a social strategy. Here, in Thayer’s words…
True Interests Will Sustain a Project.
What was happening in life when you decided to launch @alwayssssleep?
Thayer: I’ve always been obsessed with beds – I had the most comfortable bed growing up – and sleeping is really one of the only things that every person does every day. I like being in bed, I like looking at beds, so I decided to create a platform where I could share that. I continue to be excited about the project because I get to discover new products, travel to fun places and review hotel beds, and meet interesting people who are sleepy like me.
Personal Taste on Top of Planning.
When the brand launched, did you articulate a specific strategy for Instagram—an editorial plan—or did it evolve naturally?
Thayer: I work in marketing, and have a background in digital and social content, so there was definitely a strategy I developed based on my experience doing it for other brands. I had the guardrails in place around posting time, frequency, so on, and the rest is just based on my personal taste.
Stop Trying So Hard.
The captions and even the biography line have a pretty irreverent attitude. The surprise and tension between these peaceful, restful images paired with talk of sass and sex and death—how did you hit on the voice?
Thayer: The voice is kind of just the way that I talk. I’m also a writer, so I’ve zeroed in on this voice that reflects a particular side of my personality. I post the things I want to look at or places I’ve been; I write the things I’m thinking. Most people use social media to create a fictionalized, jazzed-up version of themselves…but unfortunately for everyone, this is how I really am.
Treat Your Platforms Differently.
Do you publish the same images on different platforms (like Instagram and Tumblr) concurrently, or do you view them as totally different audiences?
Thayer: They’re different audiences to some extent, but the great thing about Tumblr and the community there is that it doesn’t much matter when you post: the bulk of engagement on Tumblr can happen maybe a month or more after the post is published. With Instagram, you’re going to see your engagement spike right after posting and then a steady decline thereafter – a month-old post on Instagram is basically dead to your audience. Tumblr is all about going down the rabbit hole; Instagram is about engaging with what’s right on top.
Stick to A Visual Recipe.
What’s the Thayer and @alwayssssleep litmus test for a great photo?
Thayer: Light and dimension are super-important. Not that it has to be a bright image, but the way the light is cast is usually the most critical thing to me. That’s the consistent thread across all the images I shoot or post. There was actually a photo recently that a friend told me was off-brand, and if you look at it, it’s because the lighting is very flat. And details are very important. Usually, if there’s a piece of art or an accessory that I find even slightly unappealing, I’ll have to walk away from the whole image.
Remind People What You Do.
What’s the value of continuity? Why is it important to define a visual style that becomes familiar?
Thayer: It’s not about posting the same thing all the time, but it’s important to let your audience know what to expect from you.
Hotels! Art! Travel!
What’s next for @alwayssssleep?
Thayer: I have a bunch of fun travel projects coming up, and I’m working on a book! I definitely want to grow @alwayssssleep and continue to make it a destination for sleep, design, and hotel-related content.
Be an Authority On Your Subject, Not Just Your Brand.
What’s surprised you about using Instagram?
Thayer: I love connecting with people from all over the world that I wouldn’t have met otherwise. I’ve become close friends with several people I’ve met on Instagram, and I’ve gotten to work with some amazing brands and hotels. Sometimes a brand will reach out but they’re not even looking for me to speak to my audience about their product, they’re just looking for my feedback. That part is pretty cool. And when a hotel wants me to come and review their beds, I’m always game.
Ads Exist So What.
What’s your take on paid advertisements?
Thayer: It’s like anything: when done well, they’re great. When they’re bad, they’re bad. I don’t find them terribly disruptive. [editor’s note: the photo above is not an advertisement.]
Dork Out About Your Favorite Details.
What’s the best bed you’ve ever slept in, and did you post a photo of it?
Thayer: I rented this amazing @AirBnB in Palm Springs recently—that’s it in the photo. The mattress was incredible. I took all the sheets off the bed so I could check the mattress. It was an Aireloom, which I had never heard of. I always check the mattress wherever I sleep.
Amangiri in Utah has incredible beds and pillows, but unfortunately I went there before I started @alwayssssleep. I think I have one or two decent photos of the room, but all the good bed photos are on an old iPhone that’s probably in a landfill in New Jersey by now.
Know Your Opposite. Identify What You Aren’t.
What Instagram tropes are you sick of right now—the things it seems like everyone’s doing? How about: shoes on beds, taken from angles you know are never natural. And hyper-polished, plated, “flat flay” food spreads.
Thayer: Packing shots. Super sick of smoothies and smoothie bowls. Bloggers have turned themselves into brands now, and I’m not a huge fan of staged outfit shots and selfies that are pretending to not be selfies, you know? I don’t love images that look too polished and over-edited. Pictures of feet. So many things! I sound like such a hater but I swear I’m not. So nice and normal. Tell all your friends!
Thayer’s Sound Sleep Advice
Q: What’s just one thing people can do to make their beds feel like a hotel bed?
A: Iron your sheets! It’s a free way to make you feel like you’re sleeping in a hotel. Also, do yourself a favor and please just invest in good pillows and a nice duvet. So that’s two things, and you’re welcome!
Q: What is the one thing you’ll never do in bed?
Q: Uh, nothing. I do everything in bed. I work in bed, I read in bed, I draw in bed…most people think this is disgusting, but I’ll even eat in bed sometimes. I don’t care. You want a different answer, ask a different girl.
Q: People say you shouldn’t do anything in bed but sleep, because that helps your brain associate your bed with sleep, nothing else. Thoughts?
A: I mean, those people probably aren’t having much fun. I feel like I’m the grandparents in Charlie and the Chocolate factory, just all four of them, in bed all day doing all my activities.
Q: What do you do when you can’t sleep? Podcasts, TV, glass of warm milk, lay there and count sheep?
A: Lie there waiting for the anxiety to overwork my brain to the point of exhaustion. My friend Kerry turned me onto this white noise/fan app recently that’s pretty great. It’s called SleepFan. She uses it to get her baby to sleep. I’m like a baby, so it works.
A deeply comfy foam mattress, from the quirky and creative sleep gurus at Casper (now dressing up beds for the masses via a partnership with Target.)