There are always trends on Instagram. Magical realism has been an increasingly popular theme in recent years, with heavily photoshopped images blurring the boundaries between reality and fantasy. Model-like fashion bloggers wearing the latest designer clothes, and beautiful travel bloggers gazing out at the horizon from numerous vistas around the world are two other tropes that seem eternally popular. People like to use their Instagram feeds to escape reality.
However, in the latter half of this year, a trend seems to have emerged for the exact opposite. Could it be that Instagram users are starting to look for more genuine content?
Look at the popularity of Mrs Hinch. Sophie Hinchliffe shot to Instagram fame earlier this year as she amassed 1.4 million followers (and counting) who were attracted by her content focused around cleaning.
There’s no pretention or editing at all around Sophie’s Instagram; it’s all unapologetically real. She shares Stories full of personality, all filmed on her phone with no fancy filters. Her grid is full of photos of her white-and-grey decorated home, with no attempt to latch onto trends. Her personality shines through in her Stories and her followers love how genuine she is.
Then there’s David Cyril, an 86-year-old who is sharing his weight loss journey on Instagram. David has quickly amassed 111,000 followers simply by sharing photos of himself enjoying his daily meals, proving that you don’t have to be a whizz at Photoshop to grow your Instagram.
What do Sophie and David have in common?
They both have captured a very tight niche but they are both posting content without worrying about it being glossy enough for the ‘gram. As one follower commented (shown in David’s Stories): “You’re a breath of fresh air! True inspiration!” Could it be that the trend is shifting away from polished and professional-looking content in favour of a more natural, genuine approach?
Of course, the glossier Instagram accounts aren’t going anywhere. That element of escapism and inspiration is still there, but these Instagrammers are harder for most people to relate to. People like Mrs Hinch cleaning her home and David Cyril on his weight-loss journey offer parallels to most people’s own lives and personal experiences. You’re less likely to feel jealous or compare yourself to someone who appears to be living a life not too dissimilar from your own.
One way that Instagrammer’s who share more polished content on their feeds can connect with their followers on a more personal and genuine level is via their Stories. Many influencers are choosing to share their everyday lives on their Stories, shunning filters and fancy layouts in favour of quick smartphone snaps and impromptu video chats, usually with them talking to the camera. They often opt not to wear makeup and wear more casual clothes than their audiences are used to seeing.
This gives their followers a more genuine connection with the influencer that they are following. It makes the Instagrammer instantly more relatable as you see them laughing, joking or even feeling embarrassed. Without Photoshop and filters, you realise that there is a real person behind the feed.
Charlotte Jacklin (@bettymagazine) agrees, saying “My grid is quite curated while my Stories are me in no makeup, spots and all. I think it’s really important to show that side of me and my life. The response I get is overwhelming whenever I share anything that is real, truthful and honest, because it resonates and connects more with my audience that anything polished or staged.”
Remember, authentic engagement is more important than amassing large numbers of followers. If you are coming across naturally in your photos, captions and Stories, people are more likely to engage with you. There’s no point in having hundreds of thousands of followers if you aren’t forging relationships. By being yourself and being honest, you are opening yourself up for people to connect with you on a more personal level.
Words by Emma Lavelle
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