Instagram has evolved tremendously from where it first began. With over 1.2 billion users, Instagram is no longer about simply sharing photos with family and friends.
Now, the app is so much more. It’s used as a platform for businesses to share their product, for artists to promote their work, and for people to share their extensive knowledge of their so-called niche.
It has developed into a highly sophisticated platform that revolves around aesthetics and business, and it manages to tie the two together through a concept known as digital marketing.
THE TRUTH BEHIND DIGITAL MARKETING
Digital marketing is any marketing that involves an electronic device or the internet. Some would argue that digital marketing has become more powerful than traditional marketing because of its ability to spread information quickly, to specific audiences, and to large audiences.
It’s used on Instagram in many different ways, but I’ll be focusing on influencer marketing – a type of social media digital marketing.
Influencers are people with a large following – anyone with more than 5K followers can be considered an influencer – and are experts in their niche. There are actually considered to be tiers of influencer status based on following.
By utilizing them to promote products or services, marketers are directly targeting their desired audience. Most times, influencers are creatives that enjoy developing high-quality content for their audience. This is a part of what created the high standards Instagram has today.
MAKE INSTAGRAM CASUAL AGAIN
With the rise of digital marketing on Instagram, the platform became more about professionalism and aesthetics than connecting with family and friends. The prospect of becoming “famous” and making money as a creator became some users’ main purpose for using the app.
This turned the app into somewhat of a highlight reel for people’s lives. With each photo curated to portray a “my life is awesome” aesthetic, the app became damaging to many who couldn’t live up to the standard.
However, during the 2020 pandemic, some users began to reject this aesthetic, and the hashtag #makeinstagramcasualagain surfaced. Locked inside with nothing to do, glitz and glamour online became less attractive, and many wanted to see a more realistic lifestyle on social media.
The movement caused digital marketers to adjust the photos they were promoting and the influencers they partnered with. Now, the best feed to have is an effortless one – or at least one that appears that way.
PLANDID OR CANDID?
For many people, the concept of casual is tricky because they are so used to staging photos. This can lead to photos that aren’t casual, but look that way at first glance.
For others, a casual Instagram means posting the first photo you take, regardless of the quality.
Either way, the idea of a casual Instagram is meant to take the pressure off of the user. By taking photos without thinking of the quality or an aesthetic feed, Instagram users can share anything they want, whether it’s a moment in time, a good meal, or a nice outfit.
GEN Z TAKES THE LEAD
The ‘make Instagram casual again’ movement seems to be spearheaded by none other than Gen Z. It first appeared as a trend on TikTok, an app where over 60% of its users are Gen Zers. It began with people who already posted casually sharing screenshots of their Instagram feeds and urging others to do the same.
The trend showcases young people’s desire for originality whether it’s coming from them and their friends, or their favorite brand. With a casual Instagram, it’s easier to see what’s unique about a person or product because the image is often representative of their style and depicts something they found interesting enough to share.
One of Gen Z’s most high-profile creators, Emma Chamberlain, is a great example, although she’s not the only one. Chamberlain will often post a photo littered with tears after a mental breakdown followed by a quick shot of her half-eaten bagel.
However, she also posts promotional photos as an ambassador for Louis Vuitton, where she is seen wearing their luxury products.
CAN YOU DO BOTH?
The simple answer is: yes.
It is possible as a digital marketer to follow the casual Instagram trend and remain effective. The bottom line is if young people want authenticity, and that’s your target audience, the only option is to give them what they want.
Though a local roofing company wouldn’t likely post a duck-faced selfie with the sepia filter because it doesn’t apply to their brand, it would be okay for them to post group photos of their crew, for example, sitting on a branded truck enjoying their lunch. That represents the friendly, trustworthiness of their company, without hyper-focusing on aesthetics and professionalism.
Instagram users want to see real people in real scenarios. No more staged photos, no more white backgrounds, and no more strict aesthetics. In marketing, it’s normal to think perfect and unattainable means interesting, but the reality is that people are just as curious about the relatable.