A little reflection on Instagram…
So I am in the middle of editing this blog post & I take a little break for a media hit – a quick perusal of my Twitter stream in search for a little content buzz. And what catches my eye but this story of how one man landed the job he wanted all down to Instagram. That’s right. No cover letter or CV sent. Just a matter of “have hashtag & filters – “will work” kinda attitude.
Success stories like that really puts Instagram into perspective, demonstrating how traditional communication is drastically shifting thanks to social media.
Over 3 years, Instagram has transformed itself from a quirky & cozy photo-sharing platform to a full-fledged (& I’d argue, still cozy!) social community of plebs & celebs, ‘gramming everything from food to fashion, malls to movie sets, and yes – worktime as much as playtime.
My first Instagram
Flashback: It’s October 27, 2010 & I just took my first Instagram, 21 days after the platform launched (media artifact #1). I took it with a new (now old) handle I was messing around with, the quesclamation mark – a username I briefly toyed with in honor of the hybrid question and exclamation point. I was wavering between offering the web the full transparency of @melissadewitte or have a semi secret alias. Hashtag 2010 problems?! See media artifact #2, this New York Times article about how to live in a world where the web forgets nothing).
(& in case you wondered, I since switched to @melissadewitte)
At the time Instagram felt like a better way to share pictures over social media than with apps like TwitPic. And somehow manipulating images felt easier & more natural than any of its digital photo predecessors available (like Hipstamatic). Plus I fell in love with how the Nashville frame & the Early Bird filter transformed my cell phone photos from drab to fab.
After playing with it for a few months, I focused my efforts into growing the company I was working for, Accessorize’s US account, over building my personal profile. I launched it at one of the many in-store blogger events I would organize (and side note, it breaks my heart that no one at the company has kept up with the account I created since I stepped away from handling the social media for company. 4000 lovely fans are waiting for you!).
Media Artifact 3, Accessorize USA’s first Instagram… Having fun with Wit & Whimsy, Sugar Laws and 1977 (guess which one is the filter name).
Fast-forward a year later. It’s October 2011 & it’s our Press Preview, an event for media & bloggers to catch a sneak peek on the upcoming collection. Two of the most awesome girls stop by – the duo behind Honestly WTF – and fell hard for one of our key pieces of the spring season: a double ringed snake. There & then, they ‘grammed it.
In an hour the shot jumped to almost 500 likes. For our relatively young brand in the US market, this was one of first times I saw such engagement from just one organic post on social media (remember folks, this is 2 years ago when 500 likes was considered a lot!)
You could literally & figuratively feel the buzz as my phone vibrated with requests, comments, questions as the web fluttered for this one piece. Hashtag Totally Awesome.
One of the things I loved was the release Instagram offered me. I no longer was under the clutches of the more formal & traditional creative process. Gone was the wait of images needing to be processed, edited, touched up & approved. I no longer needed art directors, location scouts, professional photographers or fashion stylists to create marketing collateral.
Instead it was down to me, who had to assume these different positions.
I honed skills in composing, lighting & framing shots (& yes, looking at some of my earlier ‘grams makes me cringe just a little. Did I really use the Kelvin filter?).
And this post from blogger designlovefest seems spot on – it can take (more than) a couple of tries to find the right pose to post, and yes hardly insta when you think of the staging efforts behind the scenes:
The Hawthorne Effect
Interestingly, I gradually found that Instagram started to add more texture to my marketing duties offline. When organizing events I found myself choosing foods, decorations & props based on whether they offered an “Instagram appeal.”
In sociology, researchers call my shift in behavior the Hawthorne Effect – when subjects modify how they act because they know they are being studied.
And so in true Hawthorne fashion, I searched for likability factors. My eye for details turned sharper, noticing minutiae I might have normally overlooked (maybe this blog post should be named “How Instagram Made Me Anal”)
Even in person meetings transformed into an Instagram photo shoot. A quick arrangement of coffees or cocktails, the careful positioning of a hand, the placement of bauble or two, a snap decision between Amarro or Valencia, & boom: upload.
(Mini side note: maybe there should also be a blog post about a shift from Hawthorne Effect to Hyperreality? Is life mimicking art & vice versa?)
Whether you are a foodie, traveler, blogger, fashionista, hobbyist, tech geek, runner and enthusiast – there’s a hashtag out there for everyone. And with each hashtag comes it’s own community of fans & friends (hey, did you read about how one couple met through Instagram?)
What are some of your memorable Instagram experiences? How has Instagram impacted your own life, personally or professionally? Comment below, let’s chat!