A word on Instagram, the pursuit of perfection & ignoring the algorithm

Tomorrow I’ll be publishing the first in a series of posts entitled ‘A Blogger’s Instagram Process’. The series is a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into photos I post on my Instagram; from shooting to editing through to finally posting them.

But before they go live, I wanted to preface the posts with a few words of warning about Instagram and false perceptions.

I’ve always celebrated the pristine-ness of Instagram as a symbol of dedication to creativity, a place where everyday people like you and me showcase editorial-worthy images taken in our bedrooms on smartphones.

I still believe that the work that goes in behind the scenes is an art – spotting the beautiful in everyday objects, places and people – much like what goes into a magazine photoshoot.

This is not going to be one of those ‘social media is the death of all of us’ rants – far from it. Because I honestly believe that its positives outweigh its negatives.

But I’d be lying if I didn’t say a part of me often feels exhausted by this endless pursuit of perfection.

The pursuit of perfection

A quick scroll through your Instagram feed, and at a glance it would seem everyone leads these immaculate lives; where everything is colour coordinated and perfectly aligned. Perhaps some people do – but for the majority of people, it’s all orchestrated.

As I said earlier, I don’t see anything inherently wrong with the orchestration itself – it’s a form of creative expression. We just need to remind ourselves that the premeditation does happen behind the scenes.

No one’s bag contents artfully spill onto a marble backdrop. They arranged it to look that way.

Not everyone even has a marble top table. It’s usually  a DIY with marble print contact paper.

And I most certainly don’t sit around at home in a full face of makeup. I just put some on to take a photo.

We’re all guilty of it, and I don’t think it’s a crime – there’s a kind of resourcefulness and imagination that has to be celebrated here. But I do think endless exposure to this pursuit of perfection can warp our perception of reality.

So next time you’re scrolling through your Instagram feed, appreciate the beauty; but appreciate it for the work that went in behind it just as much as its face value.

And then there’s the algorithm…

This wouldn’t be an opinion post on Instagram without mentioning the algorithm. Since their acquisition by Facebook, Instagram introduced an algorithm that’s killed engagement and organic growth (it reduced my own follower growth by about 80%). As a result, the algorithm has sparked a whole load of unfair, sneaky tricks from bots to pods as bloggers try to get around it (this is a great post explaining these tactics).

As a blogger, brand or anyone trying to grow a following on Instagram, it’s extremely frustrating to be putting so much effort into carefully creating your photos, only to see disappointing results.

Measuring success by followers is always a dangerous game, but with Instagram’s recent changes you’re fighting a losing battle.

So the best way to deal with algorithim chaos? Ignore it. Stop trying to beat it, and nurture what you already have. Interact with your followers, support accounts you admire and keep putting out content that represents you.

TL;DR

  • Use Instagram to express your creativity – but remind yourself that others are doing the same, it’s all orchestrated.
  • Follower count is not a true reflection of the quality of your content anymore.
  • The stakes have become ridiculously high when it comes to Instagram, but using it to showcase your creativity is what really matters.

Do you ever feel pressured by the endless perfection on Instagram? How do you cope with it?

If you’ve read this far, thank you for listening to my rant and look out for Part 1 of my Instagram Process series tomorrow!

Sinéad xo

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