Instagram Experiments (and a mini rant)

I wanted to write a little about what I’ve been up to over on Instagram for the past few months and share my findings.

I’ve actually been MIA lately because it turns out trying to write another book whilst homeschooling, the mental load of all that is happening in the world, and doing all the other stuff I normally do is just too much. Something had to give and that thing was Insta. But I digress.

I had a “Normal” looking grid for months, years even- and I enjoyed it. I like taking photographs but I found I had succumbed to the pressure of The Curated Instagram Feed. Each shots placement would be planned to balance out the grid as a whole. This could be with regard to content, colour, texture or whatever, something that my artist’s eye was satisfied with. This all became very tiresome.

I wanted to have less head-space taken up with Instagram and a more dynamic feed. I didn’t want it to look like everyone else’s, and I was probably a bit bored. I started to research jigsaw, or puzzle feeds. Where all the images are linked with one another to create a whole composite piece of work, as opposed to having each individual square a piece in itself.

I was sold on the idea that I could literally plan my next 12, 16, 21 images – basically multiples of three. I could plan the whole thing out and have months of content ready to go at my fingertips. This would depend on how often I wanted to post, of course.

There are so many tutorials for this, but I used Canva to create mine making sure I had the right pixel dimensions so I could then use another app to slice my large image into 9, 12, 16 or whatever smaller ones.

So, what did I learn?

Well, I’m going to be honest. I had SO MANY compliments about how great my grid was looking. But my engagement went down, other than when I posted quotes. Sometimes the individual image was so abstract that viewers just couldn’t understand it and would scroll by.

I think in essence, it took my personality out of the equation. Yes, I spent less time thinking about Instagram, less time on it too. But the problem is with these apps is that they reward you for spending time on them. They reward you for posting the same type of content- even the same image that your audience loved last time. It becomes an echo chamber of the same stuff.

In the end, it is a tool, one that I want to still use but in a more mindful way; political, inspirational, vocational and educational. A place where my readers can find me and engage with me if they like. But we must remember it is an app in our phone, there’s a whole life built around the outside of that phone and the idea of conforming to the taste-makers and algorithms that control Instagram leaves a sour taste.

I need to wash my mouth out and get on with doing the creative work, because “if it’s not on Instagram, did it really happen?” is more like, for me anyway- There is so much happening OFF Instagram that needs my attention, if I want to achieve my hopes and dreams.

Always remember, you only see a slither of someone’s life on there. NOT their whole world.

This has turned into quite the Insta Rant! Thanks for reading. Catch up soon, creativity is calling and it doesn’t look like Instagram.

Further Reading – Balancing Writing & Instagram

2 responses to “Instagram Experiments (and a mini rant)”

  1. Christopher Witty Avatar
    Christopher Witty

    Hi Susan.

    Yep, Instagram can take up a lot of time best spent on other things.

    I try not to turn my phone on now until I’ve done at least an hour’s worth of writing in the morning. That, and home-schooling, are the day’s priorities.

    I use Instagram for business, as a means to sell books. However, the posts sometimes come with a short review or, outside of book-selling, a post urging people to read something I’ve enjoyed. These now include a focus on black writers or black-related writing since reading your recent blog. What I have found is that when I do post, I can’t stop checking my phone to see who’s liked or commented on it! Which is pretty futile when you think about it. The one thing I can say for Insta is that it’s a good way of sharing a mutual appreciation for literature. Since moving away from the bookshop, it’s acted as a kind of lifeline for me.

    So, well done for using your website and Insta pages to engage in more important matters. It’s done it’s job so far by inspiring me as mentioned above. Though, personally, and right or wrong, I’m pretty apolitical, so I don’t engage in discussions online. I also avoid Facebook. Too many voices saying very little.

    I’ll look forward to checking out your Insta page and blog again.

    All the best


    1. Hi Chris- Thanks for your comments. It is such a two sided coin isnt it. I agree about it being a lifeline, I’ve met many people on there whom I consider pals. And I miss that connection when it is not there. It’s such a fine balance to get it right and I feel like the goalposts, my own and insta’s, are constantly moving. It is so easy to fall into the check cycle once you’ve posted something. I hope you and the family are okay! x


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