Do You Need an Instagram Reality Check?

By: Susan Sohn

Instagram has become the home for visual storytelling for everyone from celebrities, newsrooms and brands, to teens, musicians and anyone with a creative passion.

Instagram. One of the world’s most popular social media sites. It’s hard to find someone today that doesn’t use it.

Founded in 2010, this image-sharing site allows its users to create a photographic portfolio that showcases our lives online. Bought by Facebook in 2012 for $1 because of the ability to make the connection of the masses one step further and closer at the same time. Facebook and Instagram allow users to share our thoughts and happy snaps with those who are ‘friends’ and post photographs of our lives for others to ‘like’. But these are online passive actions. Our offline reactions and relationships are typically something entirely different.

Since the birth of Instagram, it has grown from a simple digital photo album into a fully marketable space where digital influencers reign and markets thrive. Many people dream of mastering, the not-so-subtle-art of constructing the perfect post and indeed, many have. A communication tool that encourages users to commune with one another offering marketable influence through interactions between different participants in society. The interaction is purely superficial and yet the ‘influencers’ continue to drive us to purchases and actions that seemingly bridge the divide.

Time for a much-needed Instagram Reality Check Number One…

1. If you live your life through a lens of what you think other people want to see, you will never be satisfied

woman's lips with pink lipstick showing through hole in pink wallpaper

Could this be the silent poison of Instagram? We’ve all heard it said before and it rings true perhaps even more so than ever before — Comparison kills. The envy of what others have that you don’t. The more followers and better photography skills that you may desire. The images that flood our minds and screens are highly constructed, they are staged, edited, reshot and oh the fresh hell of thinking of an accurate and funny and relatable and genuinely fabulous caption.

It’s all exhausting and is slowly eroding society. It seems everything is becoming measured through the Instagram lens which is seriously blurred. Posts reflect wealth, power and give the illusion of effortless perfection. The story line is set, the consumer enamoured with likes, follows, comments and the list goes on. Yet, in reality we know that all of our lives are messy, that behind every perfect food post is a mountain of dirty dishes and soiled dishcloths, pushed aside from the perfect family shot is a basket of unwashed or unfolded laudry and buried beneath the magical destination shop are layers of filters giving the picture a sprinkle of stardust leaving the actual scene in reality disappointing.

Instagram is riddled with math and formula and those who have succeeded are benefiting in an extraordinary way. Instagram captures audiences and proves true that a picture tells 1000 words. Audiences become fascinated with the products, the images and the language and an effort is made to draw deeper connections whilst amassing a transactional relationship that all starts when we see images of what we want but we cannot have.

Instagram for businesses is a space that has a greater potential for connection with specific audiences that are reached to attract purchases outside the images and into the virtual shopping cart.

On the high end of the digital influencer spectrum is Kylie Jenner.

Identifying the Kardashians as a family and as a brand are nearly the same thing. The reality TV show that skyrocketed their fame is now a decade old and the youngest sister of the family has well and truly grown up in the spotlight of scrutiny and media attention. In Kylie’s case, her fame greatly assists her status as a social influencer. She has 99.1 million Instagram followers, (the eighth most followed in the world) and she is 20 years old.

Following the business model of her siblings, launching Kylie Cosmetics and her own TV show in 2017, Kylie is a brand and her mass followers are because of her inclusion in not only Keeping Up with the Kardashians (since she was 10) but her growing make-up brand and popularity with younger audiences. In the case of Kylie Jenner, her cosmetic line which is sold entirely online is creating new ways and platforms for purchases, but by partnering with brick-and-mortar retails, like Topshop these innovations generate greater hype and media frenzy. By interacting with fans on Instagram, and online – through constant brand promotion, Kylie utilises her influence to accentuate her brand.

Instagram Reality Check Number Two…

2. It’s silly to believe that everything Kylie posts is real

The images are highly constructed, and seem perfect but are only what she chooses for us to see. And everyone does this. But the way that she conducts her business model through Instagram is clever and successful and well attuned to the customers and audience bases particular needs.

To Kylie Jenner, and all those successfully navigating Instagram to support your business. We applaud you. Well done, it is an art and you have mastered it. A word of caution, don’t become enamoured with likes, follows and ‘so-called friends’. Not everything is as it seems.

To everyone who has not yet figured it out. Instagram is a great tool to promote your brand and grow – watch what others are doing and carefully set achievable goals. You can be inspired by the creatives that dominate Instagram, but do not let their bright light turn yours off.

Article supplied with thanks to Susan Sohn.

About the Author: Susan is a self confessed social media ‘maverick’ whose focus on others leads her to connect people to stories and one another.