How @ASAPROCKY Kills the Insta Game

We often spend 20+ minutes making the perfect Instagram post. First comes the crop, then the filter, then some witty caption that usually involves a pun. Sometime we even try to find the right hashtag that could get the post to blow up and launch us to Insta fame! (Wishful thinking.) Then, for the following hours after posting, we anxiously check our profiles every few minutes to see if we’ve racked up a “sufficient” amount of likes. But what if instead of focusing on the individual post, we viewed our Instagram as a holistic piece? As an art gallery?

For @ASAPROCKY, his Insta is just that. His profile is a caption-less, visual experience that builds hype and makes announcements without ever having to say anything in words.

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His profile differs from most artists in that he’s not directly pushing merchandise, album sales, or concert tickets via social media. He allows his content to engage with and entice fans organically, making them to feel like they’re a part of his art. And that’s just what his Instagram is — art.

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ASAP announced his takeover of Instagram’s @music handle by posting the above collage of a watercolored envelope from him to Instagram @music. Not only this is a unique way of making the announcement, but it fits his brand. The watercolor motif matches his Instagram theme (see photo below) and serves as an identifier.

The subtle nuance of the “Equality” sticker represents ASAP’s mission as an artist. Also by portraying his takeover as a letter, ASAP creates the notion that this takeover isn’t just gaining access to the @music account for a day — it’s his chance to speak to the @music followers personally and intimately.

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The art and collages are also not unlike a homemade gift. In the above screenshot, there’s a certain strategic elementary-school-art-project feel that allows his feed to not feel like an overly-done expensive marketing scheme that makes it feel that more personal. ASAP then juxtaposes that with a more mature and visually complex installation (below) that somehow screams in-your-face/king/dynamic, all at the same time.

Each installation is treated as a different aspect of and introduction to ASAP’s persona.

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However, the uploading process of these collages as an installation are nothing short of a feed overload. While our feeds are now oversaturated with content from our friends, celebrities, and news outlets; it’s impossible to miss a post by ASAP because the uploading process will literally take over your stream. This comes at a cost though — ASAP reportedly lost 100K followers during the change in creative direction.

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Regardless of how people feel about his upload overload, ASAP has proven himself as an artist of many mediums. His profile has transcended social media to a materialized representation of his work, life, and creative vision. It builds excitement and intrigue from fans without begging for it. It doesn’t ask for “likes” on a single post, but rather an appreciation of the finished piece as a whole. Keep doing you, ASAP.

What are your favorite creative Instagram accounts? Comment below.

6 comments

  1. I’ve been using Instagram since its first launch and I have witnessed the platform grow and transform, watching it evolving from trend-setter to adapter of the mass’s needs. If I recall correctly, Instagram is the first app that popularized the 1:1 ratio of pictures before people started to appreciate the composition aesthetics of a square pic. Along the way, I’ve met rebels here and there who didn’t play by the rules – one of my earliest Instagram friends started doing his feed collage style (exactly like the examples you give here) and I quickly followed his steps and experimented the same on my feed. Back in 2011, I had to manually crop my pic into the right ratios in photoshop, export them to drop box (that was before Airdrop was enabled for iPhones), download them with my phone and then upload them one by one separately. Later, special apps were developed to make that process easy and multiple apps also were available for users to hack the 1:1 ratio by posting vertical /horizontal photos the way they are, or posting a photo collage that includes several photos. For me, it’s been very interesting to observe how this platform has grown so big overtime that it created a mini side industry that feeds on its popularity. It’s also interesting to observe Instagram’s effort to strike a balance between holding on to their aesthetic principles and the users’ needs – in one of its latest updates Instagram finally officially allowed users to upload vertical/ horizontal photos the way they are, while in the account overview page pictures still show up as a grid of squares. Personally I’ve been satisfied with my Instagram user experience, and I hope it gets to keep this balance as the business continues to grow.

  2. This is really interesting, Angela! As we saw in @nicolecasperbc ‘s post last week, social media success for brands is really about finding ways to stand out and cut through the noise. It seems that @ASAPROCKY has done just that by identifying a social media platform that allows him to convey his message in a way that is consistent with his brand image. I find it most interesting that he doesn’t even use captions. Instead, he uses Instagram’s core competency: visual content.

  3. I really respect the change in direction for ASAP Rocky. I think by taking the risk to build a Instagram based around his art, he will build a strong following that is interested in the content. Even though he lost 100k followers, new fans will begin to follow him as they see his new direction. I really appreciate celebrities that are authentic on social media, and I am turned off by accounts that purely promote products for monetary compensation. ASAP Rocky does a great job of using Instagram to promote his artistic style, and his posts help his persona. I would be interested to see other artists use a similar styles to create more organic Instagram feeds.

  4. It think ASAP Rocky’s creative approach to Instagram will be respected and followed by those who truly appreciate his art. Losing 100K followers is obviously devastating, but it think it weeds out the peripheral fans and leaves behind his core biggest fans. These followers are the ones he should be continually cultivating a relationship with anyway. Those that truly appreciate him will love his artistic take and stick with him far longer than any fad fan might. In the long run I think it is okay that he lost those followers on Instagram. I also highly doubt that just because he lost 100K followers doesn’t necessarily mean he lost 100K fans buying his music. I hope ASAP rocky continues to utilize Instagram in an “outside of the box” way because I think he will inspire other people, artists, and brands to do the same thing.

  5. Nice post. I confess I’m not a heavy Instagram user, because I’m old.

  6. I love what ASAP Rocky is doing with his Instagram! Looking at his art in a holistic way makes me feel like I know more about his personality and interest. So what if he lost followers. I unfollow celebs all the time who post too much about products they sponsor. It is nice seeing an artist using their social media account for something other than advertising. Now a days I feel like most celebs on social media sponsor products. I’m on Instagram to look at cool pictures, not for window shopping.

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