31/07/2018

INSTAGRAM: THE FINE LINES AND DILEMMAS



'If I comment on their picture, it'll put my name 
out there and potentially grow my exposure and engagement.'

Good Idea.

'But I'm not sure if I actually like that image that much. 
I would have to force a comment and write something that's essentially meaningless.'

Bad Idea.

'But bloggers should support other bloggers. It's hard out here and I should be commenting for the sake of making their comment numbers look higher.'

Good Idea.

'But it's not all about numbers, is it? Surely forcing a comment for the numbers on a picture that doesn't really attract me is actually going against the idea of doing what I love and being my true, honest self.'

Bad Idea.

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There's a fine line on Instagram these days, specifically in the blogging community. 'Do I comment for my own exposure or do I comment out of my own genuine interest'. Of course, you'd tell me to write genuine comments that are based off my own opinions and honest interest and, believe me, I'd tell you the same, but what about when it comes to actually building your engagement. There are so many different ways out there to genuinely build your follower count; from liking images, shoutout-for-shoutout, joining pods, or commenting on people's posts and a lot of this helps gain exposure for your account and potentially results in your follower count going up and up which, whether you like it or not, is important if you're an influencer. It would make sense to use these techniques if you want to gain followers, exposure or engagement but then the fine line comes in. Is it right to force comments? When there's potentially a mutual benefit of these comments, is it okay to put on a fake smile once in a while?

Let's start by saying that it's common knowledge to not follow an account if you don't like their content, we all get that. However, we're all individuals with our unique tastes and preferences so we aren't expected to love every picture that an account posts. Here's my example: I'm not particularly an expert when it comes to makeup, especially false-lashes. I mean, you don't even want to see the results from the times I've tried to apply them. Anyway, if one of my favourite bloggers decides to post about her favourite false-lashes, do I comment on the picture? If I comment, I am supporting one of my favourite bloggers but if I don't comment, am I forfeiting my own exposure or dedication to the blogger? But, if I know nothing about lashes, then what do I comment? 


Some people in this situation would quite simply drop a little comment, something like: 'They look great [insert friendly emojis]'. Are those comments just classed as fake, forced, or not genuine? Are you just looking out for a fellow blogger? Are you gaining your own exposure? Well, we all know which one of those is more 'acceptable' and which we'd all like to answer with but, I'll even admit myself that I've done it a few times for exposure purposes. There's a fine line between authentic comments and somewhat mechanical comments. 

I sometimes see comments on my own images that are just completely off the subject - in fact, we've probably all experienced it once in a while. If I post a picture of my breakfast, it doesn't make sense for you to comment "Wow, this looks so fun" (and it especially doesn't make sense for you to add 'we'd love you to be featured on our feed, click our link....' Nah-ah sweetie). A lot of the time, the accounts that do this are robots and are definitely doing it for exposure purposes. So does writing ungenuine and meaningless comments make us robots? Well, it depends on the perspective. If a blogger wants comments on their post to make their numbers look higher - perhaps they've worked with a brand and are trying to maximise their engagement in order for the collaboration to appear successful - then the chances are, commenting a simple comment will be received with gratitude. In this case, it's great to support other bloggers. But, look, here comes that fine line again... is this comment going against honesty?

I'd hate to think that putting all of my hard work into an image and writing a caption of around 100+ words with questions and life updates ended with a comment: 'Cute pic". Wouldn't you? If I had my own way, I'd have everyone answer my question or leave a comment related to my life-update or talk about whatever is going on in the picture. But is that me being ungrateful? Like any other blogger, engagement is key so why would I deny the numbers? If I am watching the 'likes' grow with pride, then surely it should be the same for the comments. It's simply to do with the effort. It's important for us to take a step back when we look at Instagram and think of the way flat lays take a big bunch of props (sometimes expensive ones too) and a lot of preparation, as well as thinking of the money people will have paid for that photographer, or the boyfriend crouched down behind that camera. A lot of work goes into these images so there's nothing wrong with feeling as though you deserve a genuine comment or two but there's perhaps something a little bit more controversial about wanting genuine comments from a community that is based around numbers, speed and growth. It might be easier to ask for genuine comments if you don't want lots of followers. Sometimes it just means we have to choose between the two.


So, what about Instagram Pods? A lot of the time there are 'rules' in these pods and they're all based around the same common interest of supporting and 'bigging-up' all of the members. The 'rules' generally include: Follow each other. Like all of their pictures. Comment on all of their pictures. If you're not one to break the 'rules', you'll do it but does that mean that you have to fake comments? You have to fake likes? You have to put on a smile and follow an account that you don't love? The fine line in Pods is extremely long. Some would say, 'get out of the pod and stop lying' but many people would reply back about their own engagement. 

I'm in a Pod and the rules are very similar. The Pod was made by someone else and there are some accounts in there that, while I enjoy their content, don't always post pictures that I really like. And, believe me, we all have a complete array of content so I don't doubt that some people will feel the same about my content - but that's fine. Recently I decided to stop commenting for the sake of it, though. It might be 'breaking the rules' but, honestly, I just want to be myself. It might be jeopardising my own exposure but I want to remain honest to myself and others. 

But am I completely honest when it comes to Instagram? Admittedly, I'll arrange my images to look a little bit more aesthetically pleasing but, in the 21st Century, that's the new normal. But how about when I post an image from weeks ago, let's say of a pretty door, with a completely unrelated caption. Is that honest? Well, I do it because I don't always encounter Instagrammable situations every day and I often take a lot of images in one go that I want to share so I space them out in this way. I'll put it up so that I'm not absent from my followers for too long, so that they keep engaged, so I can keep my followers and grow more. But is it genuine?

I'd love to see you all carry on this discussion in the comments. But, don't worry,
 you don't always have to comment to support me, you can always DM me. 
Also, don't worry, if you want to comment for the sake 
of leaving your own blog link, that's fine too.

 It's hard out here in this blogging world and these fine lines 
and dilemmas are blurred more than ever, but will they ever clear up?
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2 comments

  1. It's such a tricky one. I went through a phase of commenting on loads of blogs and Instagram's just for the sake of it and in the hope that somebody would comment back. I've also been part of a pod where sadly most of the members, I didn't actually like their content. I had to wrack my brain for something to comment and even then only came up with a pathetic one liner which wasn't even worth it. I've given up now and gone back to reading for the joy of reading blogs and writing for the job of writing blogs. If I have something worthwhile to comment I will but if not, I'll appreciate the content for what it is and move on. Totally given up forcing it. Such a fine and hazy line though!!

    Steph x
    www.wanderlustpulse.com

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm really pleased that you agree - I completely agree with what you've just said about 'reading for the joy of reading and writing for the joy of writing', I guess engagement will fall into place if I just continue to be myself...

      Thank you for your comment and thoughts :)x

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