I’ve had something on my mind both as a blogger and someone who works at a creative agency and is engulfed in this schtuff all the time.
I don’t spend time curating my personal Instagram account with perfect pictures. And that’s okay. And it should be okay. As a blogger sharing her life with the entire internet, I’ve thought about this a lot. This post goes way against the grain of actual blogging “advice”, but hear me out.
I totally get why people do spend time curating their accounts’ content, and I fully understand the benefits of doing so, and even preach it to clients – both from a marketing/branding standpoint, and a “people are naturally more attracted to quality pictures” standpoint. But, this is not directed at businesses, creatives, food bloggers, or professionals who truly use Instagram as an extension of their brand or for their portfolio.
I get it, I do, and it’s something I should bite the bullet and be doing if I really want to grow my following immensely.
But, perfectly curated Instagram accounts usually turn me off quicker than “average” accounts, especially if I’m looking to follow the person and not so much their brand. If your brand is your bread and butter, then that’s one thing, but Instagram was originally created to share moments as they happen. Not after they’ve been taken with your DSLR camera, edited, and re-uploaded. At least that’s how I’ve done it – maybe I’m missing some cool app.
Instagram is really good at making people’s lives look way more glamorous than they actually are. The most curated accounts surely can’t be real life. Instagram posts are just a tiny, small snippet of life, so you should always take them with a grain of salt.
I’m 99% sure no real person has a desk or workspace that looks like it came out of a Kate Spade catalog. I’m also pretty sure it took way longer than you’d like to admit to take that photo of your favorite inanimate objects in that homemade lightbox. You also probably don’t spend your days sitting in a trendy coffee shop, sipping on a beautiful chai tea latte, next to your MacBook Pro and a tiny succulent, while you jot down your feelings in a leather bound journal. Or maybe you do.
I don’t tend to contemplate whether or not a photo I post to Instagram is going to jive with the rest of my account. I probably should, as a blogger I know I should, and if I was using it for aesthetic reasons to promote my brand, I definitely would. But this mama ain’t got time for that. This mama barely has time for real life.
I fell in love with Instagram for its original genuineness, its spontaneity, and its life-as-it-happens approach. But somewhere along the way, like all social media, it has grown and evolved and fallen away from its intended purpose.
Instagram is now a platform more for creatives than the every-day photo taker. It’s more about branding, sharing a pristine image, and one that “looks good” next to other pretty images so that the entire grid looks like it is one cohesive statement. Consistency is the name of the game these days. Each “insta” is perfectly framed, perfectly laid out so that it will perfectly compliment the other five images a user sees when they visit an account. Each “insta” has a certain mood to it, a specific filter at the exact opacity, and the right shape to match all the others. Bonus points for using a third party app that adds white space around an image. (I know, I’ve done it!) It’s exhausting, really. The “science” that goes into a perfect Instagram account.
I think social media is definitely leaning more in the direction of promoting current, in-the-moment content, which is why Snapchat and Periscope are exploding. People are more interested in following people, not perfectly curated images, but lives they are interested in seeing, and being a part of. (Again, not talking about brands using Instragram as a mobile portfolio) We are nosey creatures by nature, and because we are a generation of instant gratification, we enjoy knowing what someone is doing RIGHT NOW. We enjoy feeling like we really know someone. And in the end, that’s why someone is going to follow you, or buy from you, or trust what you say. Because they feel like they are connected to you somehow. If you have to think for a second whether or not the picture you’re about to post is going to get enough likes, match your other pictures, or get the approval of some unknown Instagram rule-book, maybe you’re over-thinking it.
So, what will you see when you visit my Instagram account? Definitely not consistency. You’ll see my favorite and most special moments I couldn’t wait to share with friends and family near and far. Funny pictures of my dog that I knew my friends would enjoy laughing at. Sweet photos of my baby girl that I can’t help but brag on. Workouts I’m proud of and want to use to help encourage others. Random, delicious meals I want to remember to make again. Pictures I’ve shared on FB that I want my friends on Instagram to see as well. And the occasional sponsored post I am unashamedly sharing because diapers aren’t cheap, ya’ll. None of my Instagram images are perfect. They don’t “go together” and they aren’t edited the exact same way. But, they are real. And they are meaningful to me. I’m not stressed about it.
At the end of the day, everyone has a different agenda when it comes to social media. Don’t fall into the trap of playing the comparison game, because it is an ugly, ugly trap, and one that will steal all of your joy.
How do you use Instagram? What are your tricks? What is your favorite social media platform?