A Mus­ing

INSTA-GEN Wel­come to a world of pix­els and colours that’s be­come about the dol­lars and cents

Harper's Bazaar (Singapore) - - CONTENTS - KEN­NETH GOH Editor-in-Chief Send me your com­ments on In­sta­gram:@kennieboy

This is the one is­sue in the year when I re­ally have to en­gage with my mil­len­nial team. Their faces are con­stantly glued to their iPhone screens and be­cause it’s our Dig­i­tal is­sue, I feel I have ev­ery right to ask them: What are they mak­ing goo­gly eyes at 24/7? Last year’s wildly pop­u­lar Snapchat is this year’s run­away suc­cess called In­sta­gram Sto­ries. Users in Asia love the fil­ters but they don’t use this so­cial me­dia plat­form to in­ter­act with their fol­low­ers as much. In­stead, they play with Snapchat’s fa­cial fil­ters and down­load the mini videos to be up­loaded on IG sto­ries. IG Sto­ries have be­come the go-to, pro­vid­ing a be­hind-the-scenes visual diary of an in­flu­encer’s life.And be­cause it’s only live for a day, it’s be­come truly a 24-hour ex­pe­ri­ence that ev­ery­one can share. It’s still cu­rated, just without the need to have the same edit as their per­ma­nent feed.The great thing about IG Sto­ries is that only you get to see the com­ments—you can tag, add hash­tags and even add a swipe to go di­rect to a web­site, so it’s be­come a lot more user-friendly and, ul­ti­mately, click­able and shop­pable.

It’s the last com­po­nent that makes me ques­tion the con­tin­u­ing ap­peal of In­sta­gram—when so much is a paid ex­pe­ri­ence, is there any­thing real or au­then­tic left in a post? Be­cause In­sta­gram has over 500 mil­lion users who post over 95 mil­lion pho­tos and videos each day, what do you have to do nowa­days to be no­ticed? Take the lat­est in­stance of bad vi­ral mar­ket­ing: Mod­els like Bella Ha­did, Hai­ley Bald­win,Alessan­dra Am­bro­sio and Emily Rata­jkowski were “paid”to pro­mote the dis­as­trous Fyre Fes­ti­val on their so­cial me­dia ac­counts. Now in­fa­mously known as the mil­len­nial Lord of the Flies meets The Hunger Games, guests who paid up to US$12,000 for tick­ets to the mu­sic fes­ti­val in the Ba­hamas were shocked and dis­gusted by how this “vi­ral” event was can­celled at the last minute and “lux­ury tent ac­com­mo­da­tion” turned out to be left­over dis­as­ter re­lief shel­ters. In­stead of caviar and Cham­pagne, soggy cheese sand­wiches and bot­tled wa­ter were served. Ha­did and friends were quick to delete the posts from their feeds and is­sue apolo­gies to their fans, but was it a case of too lit­tle, too late?

When peo­ple buy into num­bers and sup­posed Insta-fame, you re­ally start to won­der if the app is just built on fan­tasies. Check out So­cial Blade, a web­site that gives all users ac­cess to their pub­lic data­base to pro­vide you with global an­a­lyt­ics for any con­tent cre­ator, live streamer, or brand. This web­site is ad­dic­tive—it’s the fastest way to learn whether the so­cial ac­count you have been faith­fully fol­low­ing has bought its fol­low­ers or not.You can see ex­actly how an ac­count has grown their fol­low­ers, whether they’re or­ganic or bought; or if they have tem­pered with bots and apps that al­low you to buy ev­ery­thing from fol­low­ers and likes to in­ter­ac­tions.

I do long for the days when In­sta­gram was a real au­then­tic ex­pe­ri­ence and not one where you have to work out what’s paid and not. But truth be told, so­cial me­dia should be taken with a huge pinch of salt be­cause what is shown, said and posted could be the fur­thest thing from the truth. That’s why true ex­pe­ri­ences are best done in real time.And you don’t need Bella to tell you that.

From top: The mil­len­nial model squad in an In­sta­gram post pro­mot­ing Fyre Fes­ti­val. Ari­ana Grande, Hai­ley Bald­win and Zen­daya hav­ing fun with Snapchat fil­ters

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