Remember when sharing a photo on Instagram was just choosing a filter? Good lighting was always a bonus, but chucking Valencia over the top of it was enough to make it to the Gram?
As I’m sure you’re well aware, this doesn’t quite cut the mustard for today’s ‘grammers’. Just to paint a picture, Instagram has 9 million active users in Australia, out of a population of 24 million. That means that roughly every Australian aged 15-64 is an active Instagram user.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m all for Instagram. It’s a platform for individuals to share highlights of their lives through photos with friends, or for businesses in an entrepreneurial sense. Yet, in recent times we’ve seen what was once merely a photo editing app, become a lifestyle and a career. So sometimes I can’t help but wonder, are we living life through a lens?
Let’s look at businesses.
Instagram has become a key marketing tool for businesses across an array of fields. From fashion, beauty, fitness and everything in between, you’re either online or you’re out of here. The way a brand is portrayed on social media, says a lot about the image it wants to present to the public and the connotations it wishes consumers to attach to it. Planning social media content for any brand is now a massive part of their business model to drive sales and build rapports online. Sharing and posting products online is the new norm in order to cash in on that coin. Some retailers are even exclusively online, it really shows the power of being on the line.
News flash, we live in a digital world and people don’t just go shopping to buy new clothes. By following companies on Instagram, you’re constantly seeing their stock, their new arrivals and often subconsciously interacting with them from your feed. Let’s take bikinis for example. There are thousands of bikini brands on Instagram, frequently posting content and immersing you in their brand’s culture. Seeing established models or famous figures interacting with brand pages, is another way we are living through a lens, even if we don’t know it. In this day and age, social media sells.
Famous instagrammers have completely blown up on social media and made it their career. That’s right, quite literally getting PAID to frequently post and be the culture that Instagram promotes. I’m sure we are familiar with names such as, Shani Grimmond, Tammy Hembrow and Steph Claire-Smith. Everyday people-just like us, who have made their own empires from social media – Darth Vader is shook.
It’s phenomenal to think that the number of followers these modern day celebrities have accumulated are what fund their lifestyles. From generously paid sponsorships per post, to free international trips, as someone in their 5th year… slogging out a 6 year degree, I get pretty damn jealous of their #goals lifestyle.
Social media has afforded these people a platform to grow in the industry. Tammy Hembrow has launched an international clothing brand, ‘Saski Collection’ along with a fitness app, and Steph Claire-Smith, with her business partner Laura Henshaw has ‘Keep it Cleaner’, an international fitness and healthy lifestyle program in addition to a her own bikini line, ‘The Midnight Co’, and sunglasses line, ‘Soda Shades.’
In no way am I discrediting the success of these individuals, as both have clearly worked extremely hard to achieve a following, in the seemingly short time Instagram has been so prevalent. However, there are hundreds of Vloggers who really do seem to just get paid to post with certain protein powder and Princess Polly clothes… What is University even doing for me?
Now that leaves us with last but not least: the people.
The real people, you and me (unless you’re a secret social media #influencer that is). We probably have between 300-2000 followers and post anywhere from once a week to once every couple of months. However, with the recent addition of Instagram stories to the mix, things become a bit more extreme.
I must confess. On one hand, I don’t really care about what I post (I’m not getting paid for any of it), but on the other hand, I still will take 50 selfies before choosing the perfect one. And even then I’m going to edit it to the best of my ability to make sure I don’t look like a complete thumb.
If you don’t agree with that, then I applaud you. However, having any kind of public profile, or platform you’re sharing with, involves an element of caring. Even with Instagram stories, you’re not going to post a photo when you get caught in the rain, or you’ve had a bad day, or your car breaks down. You’re going to post that Sunday morning brunch, or that picturesque beach shot with blue skies and white sand with a caption making sure you let everyone know it’s above 27 degrees. I’m not saying this because it’s a bad thing, it’s perfectly natural to share the highlights. We just need to keep in mind that that’s exactly what Instagram is, the highlights.
These days, people as young as 13 have Instagram, and everything seems to be online, which has both positives and negatives. It’s pretty cool that I can VSCO my pic and go from a 2 to a 7 and share it with everyone after a great day. Although, if we don’t catch up it is easier to get left behind. The industry is moving so fast that we need to keep up with it and bear in mind, that this isn’t reality. So take what you see with a grain of salt because the we don’t live aesthetically pleasing, picture perfect lives all the time.