the new instagram rules for creatives
While for some Instagram is becoming staid, others are embracing imperfection and spontaneity to build new, tighter communities
Once a place to share snaps with friends instantly, Instagram has quickly become one of the biggest social media platforms in the world. Craft is a visual medium, which makes Instagram an obvious choice for sharing and promoting small businesses – leading to ‘key influencers’ (a term originated on Instagram) earning hefty incomes. As numbers have risen, so has the expectation that Instagram feeds should be carefully curated, seamlessly beautiful places to go for hits of photographic Prozac. But as the platform continues to grow, some ’Grammers have been falling out of love with the pic-sharing platform.
TIME FOR A REVOLUTION
Creative entrepreneur Allison Sadler of The People Shop ( www.allisonsadler.co.uk; www.thepeopleshop.co.uk) tapped into a growing discontentment when she posted about peonies, the all-too familiar photo subject that fills thousands of feeds in early summertime.
“The biggest thing I’ve been feeling lately is boredom. Every time I flicked through those little photographic squares, I found myself quickly backing away again. How many times can we look at another picture of peonies before we scream ‘Please, please no more!’.” Allison’s message hit a nerve. “I have never had so many responses to a story, ever! Hundreds and hundreds of followers sent me messages expressing the same thing,” she says. “This was something I’d been feeling for a long, long time, but I felt a bit nervous about sharing it for fear of o ending an army of diehard peony lovers. But sometimes you just need to be brave and say exactly what you’re feeling.”
With over 10,000 posts using Allison’s subsequent #freeupmyinsta hashtag, it looks as though she’s brought back much-needed spontaneity to Instagram.
But has Instagram really become so prescriptive? Some believe there’s still variety if you look for it. Blogger Sara Tasker of Me & Orla ( www.meandorla. co.uk) says, “What started out as a platform for people who simply loved sharing great photographs has evolved into something a bit more cynical and considered, as more and more people look to it for promotional purposes instead of just pleasure. That said, all that picture pleasure is still there for the taking for anyone who wants it – it just means being a little more intentional about how you use it.”
So, what’s her view on Allison’s #freeupmyinsta project? “It takes the pressure away from the idea of the perfect subject – the endless spiral of people posting the same repetitive types of photographs because they get the most likes. However, browse the feed and you’ll see everyone is still taking the best photographs they can of all that wonderful variety.”
But is there space in all this variety and promotion for the personal? Rachel Basinger of Oh No Rachio! ( www.ohnorachio.com) photographs her enamel pins, stationery and gifts alongside pictures of her cats and plants. “I don’t like the idea of a curated feed, per se,” she says. “I think it quickly becomes clichéd. My feed seems to naturally go through phases of colour palettes, depending on what I’m into at the time.”
KEEP IT REAL
Rachel also films a weekly vlog on YouTube and embraces the Instagram Stories function. “People shouldn’t be afraid to show their vulnerability online. More often than not, those things that aren’t so rosy are the ones that people connect with and empathise with the most. Keeping it real shows authenticity, which helps build better connections and a sense of community.” And that’s what Instagram is all about.
Sara agrees: “Stories are a great antidote to that overly-curated Instagram world. It’s temporary content lasting just 24 hours, so it makes no sense for anyone to pour hours of work into perfecting it. Instead it’s full of messy, real moments, and you can know people so much better from that. Perfect moments with flowers and teacups are lovely, but we connect over the messier stu . That’s where the real relationships are forged.”
With the growth of Stories, Instagram has become freer again, and has the scope to be whatever you make it – whether it’s for work or play, tidy or messy. The mix is up to you: make up your own rules, but just remember to have fun while you do it.