The Art of Instagram

We have come to an age where online appearance and aesthetics are everything. They say it only takes 7 seconds to make a first impression.  Social media revolves around stalking and whether we like to admit it or not, we’ve all done it.  You open up Instagram or Facebook and type in a name and there you go…

We all know stalking exists. We all know at some point in time someone might look us up or some cute girl from that party the other weekend might add you and in 7 seconds she’s going to have some sort of opinion of you.  So, this brings us to a reasoning of why people actually care about what they post.  No matter how avid of a social media user you might be there is at least some sort of a mental process when it comes to posting.

What’s my caption? Should I put a filter on this? So, what really is the difference between, let’s say, the average Instagram user and Kim Kardashian? You might completely disagree with me but to get on the level of Kim Kardashian it takes commitment. Actually, it takes so much commitment that most celebrities like Kim Kardashian and actual professionals hire someone to post for them.  Instagram marketing has become an actual profession. I never thought a blue check mark would have so much meaning.

What makes a feed a great feed?

Do you ever scroll through a celebrity’s Instagram and just get a rush of satisfaction because their feed looks so good as a whole?…maybe I’m just weird…but look at this picture:

IMG_7660.jpegCompared to this:IMG_7662.jpeg

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now apparently, having the perfect post isn’t enough.  Having the perfect “profile” as a whole is what people strive for.  Kim Kardashian’s entire profile looks like they all belong.  The color scheme and transition of each photo makes sense.  Carrie Underwood, on the other hand, has a pretty random feed posting whatever she wants whenever she wants.  Is it really that hard to mimic a profile like Kim’s?  By searching “Instagram theme” on Pinterest, people have ready to go cheat filters that one could use on every picture (more are listed here):

Screen Shot 2018-02-04 at 10.11.14 AM.png

I thought to myself, oh this really shouldn’t be THAT complicated…I really should’ve known it’s not that simple.  As just a random person with no background in photography what so ever, I tried filtering all my pictures the same way and seeing what they would look like as a whole.  It most definitely did not look like the examples.  As you can see, on Kim’s profile and the Pinterest examples, the same main defined colors are in each photo.  

It was hard to find a celebrity example that had a “bad” Instagram aesthetic, but Carrie Underwood obviously posts what she wants rather than hiring someone else to do it for her.  In this case, Instagram is probably being used in two different ways for these two celebrities.  Kim uses Instagram to promote her products and generate a brand image, while Carrie is more genuine about social media and wants to share her real life with her fans.

Now, no matter how much one could hate on the Kardashians, they are extremely smart when it comes to marketing.  When Kris found out that 3 of her daughters were pregnant at the same time, she knew right then and there that they were about to make a lot of money.  They know exactly what they’re doing by hiding Kylie’s pregnancy.  I’m getting off point here but when it comes to Instagram marketing, the Kardashians all have a huge presence on social media and could literally get people to buy paper.  No offense @MichaelScott.

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The reality is, not a lot of people are on the same level as Kim. Granted, a lot of people could really care less about how their posts really look, but I bet everyone has some level of reason when they post.  Influencers are called influencers for a reason.  No matter who you are on Instagram, you probably follow someone that has the same interests as you except that they have at least 10,000 more followers.  I bet, no matter how old you are, if you scroll through Instagram right at this very moment you’re going to bump into one of these:

  • The basic *final word up for interpretation…* (gets 500 likes on a picture of a palm tree)
  • The healthy living/fitness guru (promotes protein)
  • The parent (mostly posts their children’s cute moments and accomplishments and how great their family is)
  • The college guy (probably a washed up high school varsity athlete and most definitely follows barstool)
  • The one that found fame through reality TV (the Bachelor franchise)
  • The celebrity
  • The pro athlete
  • The meme account
  • The animal account
  • The couple that everyone wants to be

I’m not here trying to offend anyone of these “categories”, but my point is everyone has some kind of presence on social media.  I will be the first one to say that I pretty much encompass the first category listed.  There is a reason why these categories exist and it should not be something to be offended by.  I swear if these four profiles didn’t have different Instagram handles, I would not be able to tell, from a skim, that they were different people…

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Throw in a mirror selfie, a workout video, one personal picture, healthy food, and a motivational quote and you’ve got yourself a fitness Instagram. How about these four:
IMG_7669IMG_7671

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All of these profiles revolve around the same types of pictures under some sort of category.  Some may be more prevalent than others, but I could most definitely pick four profiles for every single one of these categories to prove my point.  The art of having a “good” Instagram doesn’t have to consist of artsy pictures and thousands of likes.  There is meaning behind what people post and what they want to share with their followers.  Obviously, those categories came up in my head as a 20 year old college student, but in reality, people post to express some kind of meaning in their life, which really make up the art of Instagram.  

9 comments

  1. Hey Katie! I really liked your post because I have never thought about Instagram as an ‘art’ because feel like most of us use Instagram like Carrie Underwood does. We care about posting pictures about moments that are meaningful and make us proud to share with people we know. Some people post things to share important milestones (such as a graduation, a birthday or a wedding) without really thinking about the homogeneity of their feed. However, it is different for celebrities and important figures because their audience is much larger and these followers have certain expectations about what these prominent people post. Nowadays, a lot of businesses use Instagram to promote their brand because it is a very powerful tool that can reach followers that have very specific interests.

  2. Hi Katie, this was a pretty entertaining post to read. As someone who doesn’t have a Instagram account, your post is very educational and opens my eyes to the level of thought that goes into someone’s Instagram. While some accounts like Kim Kardashian’s are essentially like a curated gallery, I suspect that this is not so for the vast majority of users. Part of me thinks that the fitness guru accounts and the new parent accounts are genuinely obsessed with fitness/their baby and that is simply all they can think of to post. I worry that users may form one-dimensional first impressions.

    Like you say, first impressions are very important and they are often made quickly when viewing someone’s Instagram account fo the first time. No one wants to make a bad impression so it makes sense for people to think hard about what they post. For me though, this just makes me more apprehensive of making an Instagram account, less opportunity for me to screw up the first impression.

  3. Hi Katie! I agree with the others, you took a very interesting angle for this post. As someone who is a pretty frequent user of Instagram, I’ve definitely noticed the difference in profiles of celebrities and influencers versus the regular user (for lack of a better work). I think your comment that Kim Kardashian’s profile is more promotional while Carrie Underwood’s feed is more authentic really hits the nail on the head. In my opinion, Instagram should be more about the latter — I follow some celebrities because I’m genuinely interested in learning more about their lives as regular people… not to scroll through constant product advertisements.

  4. Great post, Katie! The screenshots of the examples really highlighted your argument. I also really agree with your take on Instagram as an art. I think your list of categories is very comprehensive but I do think that although most people fall in those categories, it can also be seen as a spectrum, where some people might fall in between categories and be their own unique mix. As someone who has been actively using Instagram for some time now, I do believe you can tell a lot about a person from their Instagram and it’s really great to see how people present what is relevant to them. I also have to note that even I have noticed how my posts have changed as I developed my own unique mix of what I want to present. I think my posts are now limited to presenting only what has meaning to me rather than a mix of random posts. At the end of the day, first impressions are important and its okay to want to present a mix of accurate and genuine posts.

  5. Nice post. It definitely is interesting to see how people pursue these platforms as an opportunity to develop a “personal brand.” Personally, I would find that exhausting, but more power to them!

  6. Hey Katie, interesting take on Instagram. I love how you seemed to take what I learned in brand management regarding personal brand persona, and really project it on a microscopic/personal level. Personally I believe that so many people attempt to fit into your “categories” of instagrammers because of whom they follow, and as they follow more and more for instance fitness brands, the more they assume fitness is what Instagram is used for. This helps them feel a sense of belonging and normality – something we all seek – which is just a little bizarre because we’re seeing it online for the first time!
    Just my two cents. Loved the post!

  7. Hi Katie — I really enjoyed your post. Compared with my friends, and particularly my younger sisters, I use Instagram in a much more casual way. That being said, I wouldn’t say that I have a “bad feed” or am out of the loop for how people use Instagram in the grand scheme of things. However, when you brought up the fact that there are online templates for Instagram themes, I was SHOCKED!!! I can’t believe that people do that. In my opinion, I think this adds to the inauthenticity of Instagram. Then again, it’s how so many people are using the platform these days.

  8. I loved this post, probably because I’m already an avid Instagram follower and have heavily researched topics like Instagram themes, etc. (also loved the S/O to Kylie’s baby). I definitely laughed when you described the different categories of Instagram users, because that was TOO real and perfectly described my feed at the moment. I also really enjoyed how you talked about experimenting with your own Insta theme and realized it’s more than following a filter pattern, because I think some major celebrity influencers might get a bad rep, but hey we all wish we could make posts like them! So gotta give some credit where credit is due.

  9. Hi Katie,
    Really good topic about first impressions and the stress of making it perfect to others. I think if you focus on authentic personal posts OR if it is for business make it exactly that. There is a concept called the “power of one” and basically you want someone to feel one thing, one emotion, and have it be one concept.

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