Instagram. I love it, and yet sometimes I despair of it. I owe it so much (an audience, opportunities for work, connections, friendships, inspiration…) and yet over
This week, prompted by some questions from my Little Stories of My Life E-course students, I’ve been reflecting a little on what it means to be a storyteller on Instagram, and on how we can stay positive and maintain creative balance whilst using the platform to connect with others and share our stories. Here are ten things that I’ve learned in eight years on the ‘gram…
Your story is worth telling. You are completely and gloriously unique, and so is your story. Your voice deserves to be heard and your tales are ready to be told, however simple they may be. (You can read more about why I believe in the power of small stories here.)
Only connect.* Be generous with your likes and comments, and not only will you brighten people’s days, but they’ll reciprocate and engage with you and your images in return. In her invaluable book about Instagram- Hashtag Authentic – my friend Sara Tasker advises you to ‘spend more time on other people’s pages than you do on your own.’ Reach out and connect.
YOU choose what to share. You don’t owe anyone your whole story. Personally, I live in a messy house with three lively boys. On my Instagram feed, I don’t showcase the chaos – I share moments of beauty and serenity. I’m not living a lie, and my vulnerability often surfaces in the captions to my images, but I choose to share moments that brings me peace and creative
Don’t fall into the comparison trap. With so much incredible photography showcased daily on
Choose to step into different worlds. Use Instagram to connect with people whose backgrounds and experiences differ from your own, not just those whose lives mirror yours. Make a conscious effort to diversify your feed and discover fresh stories. As blogger and writer Huma Qureshi put it: ‘when we make the effort to speak to people with different voices and different backgrounds, something special happens…These are the stories that add to the richness of the world, that help us
It’s okay to walk away. It’s easy to get sucked into mindless scrolling and sometimes Instagram is a stressful place to be. If you find that you’re experiencing comparison, envy or dissatisfaction, it’s probably time to take a break from the app. You can mute or unfollow accounts that don’t make you happy – your feed should be a positive place for you.
Popular isn’t the same as perfect. Instagram is governed by an algorithm- a set of rules followed by a computer. The algorithm is NOT an arbiter of talent or taste. Don’t judge your (or anyone else’s) images purely by the engagement that they receive- you know more about what constitutes good work than the algorithm does. If an image that you love and feel proud of doesn’t receive as many likes as you hoped for, your taste or talent is not in question. You don’t have to let a computer tell you what to create.
Use recurring motifs. There’s no need to always produce content that’s fresh, new and different. If an idea has worked for you, consider repeating and developing it – using the same setting in different seasons, for example. Returning to themes and motifs can actually help you to grow your audience because they will come to know what to expect from you, and if they have liked it once, they will probably like it again. Our lives- and therefore our stories- are filled with endless small repetitions. Why shouldn’t our Instagram feeds reflect that?
Nobody’s life is flawless. What you see on screen is always only part of the story. We all share our highlights (and that’s okay!) but even people with the most amazing-looking lives, homes and families have struggles going on behind the scenes. Outside of the frame, life is messy and complicated – we are all vulnerable. Be kind.
I’d love to know your thoughts about Instagram- you’ll find me there as @circleofpines, so feel free to send me a message, or leave a comment below.
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*’Only connect’ – E.M. Forster (from Howard’s End)