Top row: Mushroom stroganoff; thumbnail for my YouTube video #BlogCon LDN 2018 Vlog 4 – Putting a Price on Your Content; my milestone post to celebrate 1,000 Instagram Posts. Middle row: My letter lightbox to greet November 2018; my polar bear hot water bottle cover; creamy chicken and rice. Bottom row: Photo for my July, August and September 2018 Part 2 blog post; my thumbnail for my third York vlog; my Spice Girls exhibition London Instacollage.
Besides Facebook and Twitter, Instagram is one of my favourite social media platforms. While I especially like it as a unique way to share photos and the way people engage with my content on it overall, I have also experienced some downsides with it that I will discuss in more depth later on in this post.
I joined Instagram in 2014 because I wanted to post photos and share them with my followers in a similar manner to how I did this on Facebook. Some of the first people I started following on Instagram were also my friends and relatives on Facebook, so I could easily connect with those I already knew. Over time I started following other people such as celebrities, bloggers and YouTubers. I also started to follow brands and charities that I like.
Top row: Me with Sam from the YouTube channel Sam4G0d; me with the YouTuber and blogger Brogan Tate; me on the train to Bournemouth. Middle row: Me wearing my Ariel Minnie Mouse ears; my Ariel Minnie Mouse ears; steak and caramelised onion sandwich. Bottom row: Spaghetti carbonara with chicken, peas and cheese; egg, pancetta and chicken salad; handmade salt dough sunflower bowl I made for my mum.
When I first signed up to Instagram I started experimenting with filters on my photos to enhance their colours, especially photos of food. Nowadays I only use them sparingly because I think most photos I take nowadays don’t require a filter, particularly selfies of me or photos of me with other people.
Left picture: A selection of my loom band creations. Right picture: Thumbnails for my last Leicester and Alcon 2017 vlog, my personalised Minnie Mouse ears video review and my YouTuber Confessions Tag video.
Since joining Instagram, I went through different phases on there such as posting my pictures of loom band creations from 2014 to 2015 and my YouTube thumbnails from 2017 onwards. While loom band creations were trendy when I shared and followed them, some YouTubers I follow have posted thumbnails for their latest videos for as long as I can remember, therefore I see that as something that is still going strong.
In 2016, the Instagram stories feature was introduced. Upon its launch people I followed online gave it mixed opinions. While one person I used to follow thought it was basically like Snapchat, therefore she only ever made a few stories and continued with using Snapchat stories; another person I still follow experimented with Instagram stories briefly and went back to Snapchat stories, but eventually she ended up using Instagram stories more regularly because she felt that she could talk for longer on Instagram stories as opposed to Snapchat stories. I didn’t start using Instagram stories until a year after they were introduced and that was only briefly to begin with, but more recently I decided to utilise it more by using it to promote my latest YouTube videos and blog posts.
Besides Instagram stories, other new features I liked were the ability to add up to 10 photos in a post (users can swipe to see all the photos) and following hashtags. I especially liked using the former for posting a visual story where I explained my autism to another customer in a shop (see above), rhino sculptures from the Tusk Rhino Trail at various angles and my batch of baby gender reveal cupcakes plus a photo of the inside of one of the cakes to reveal the gender of my cousin and his fiancée’s first child together; and the latter for discovering new photos on my home feed that are based on hashtags I follow. Another new feature that was introduced on Instagram was the ability to mute certain accounts, which to me is like a way of blocking someone without them knowing (off-topic, but I feel as if certain people have muted me on Twitter because whenever I Tweet them or comment on their Tweets, I get no immediate likes on or retweets of my Tweets where I mention them or my replies to their Tweets), but so far I have not muted anyone on Instagram because I prefer to block or unfollow their accounts if the accounts are spam, any of their posts offend me or the people behind the accounts leave negative comments on my posts.
In June 2018, IGTV was launched and I had divided opinions of it to begin with. While I liked its concept of watching exclusive videos in portrait mode that I cannot find on YouTube and Vimeo, I have only found myself watching a few videos on IGTV due to preferring to watch them in landscape mode on YouTube. I normally prefer to upload my own videos onto YouTube rather than IGTV because I add subtitles to my videos in the editing software and I didn’t know how to change the dimensions of the screen to turn it into portrait mode; however when I filmed some vertical/portrait video clips of a game called Our Survey Says that my dad and I played on our Christmas 2018 break at Warner Leisure Hotels Holme Lacy House Hotel (for more information on this break, please read this blog post) for my Instagram stories and I messed up with adding them to my stories, I learnt how to make vertical/portrait videos in Adobe Premiere simply by creating a new sequence, importing a vertical/portrait video, dragging it to the timeline and changing the sequence settings when prompted. I originally put the full length Our Survey Says video on YouTube, but I decided to split it in two parts (as a smaller Instagrammer, I can only upload videos between 15 seconds and 10 minutes long onto IGTV) in order to upload them onto IGTV.
Another feature I liked on Instagram was watching live streams much like those on YouTube, YouNow and Periscope, particularly from some of my favourite YouTubers. I usually found them rather pleasant ways to spend an hour or two depending on how engaging I thought the streams were and I liked the idea of asking YouTubers questions in the comments during their live streams, but by the middle of 2018 I realised that I had lost interest in participating in them partly because one YouTuber said she didn’t really enjoy doing them so much anymore probably due to her followers asking her questions that seemed very personal or sensitive to her while another had the tendency to live stream for more than a hour and quite often late at night, thus making me think I no longer had the time or the attention span to take part in the live steams. In January 2019, one of these favourite YouTubers of mine did her first Instagram live stream in nearly a year, so I decided to participate in in it. About a month after the YouTuber did her live stream, she uploaded a Q and A video and somebody asked the YouTuber if she would ever do a live stream. The YouTuber revealed that she did live streams in the past; however she stopped doing them for a while because she thought that people would take advantage of her and put her, “on the spot,” by asking her questions that were considered inappropriate, personal or sensitive. During the live stream in January 2019, people did not appear to ask the YouTuber any questions of that nature and in her Q and A video, she said her followers were lovely for the duration of the stream, therefore I was happy to be able to take part again.
At the time of the original publication of this post, I had over 400 followers on my Instagram, but I have over 600 as of March 2019, thus making this my largest social media follower count. I have also posted over 1,000 photos and sets of photos over the course of my four years on Instagram, but I have deleted and archived some photos and I will explain why in a bit.
Unfortunately like with my content on other social platforms, my blog and my YouTube, some people have left negative comments on my Instagram posts, which led me to block those who made them as well as delete or archive my posts. Someone even told me to consider alternatives to what was in one of those now-archived photos, but I blocked that person because I thought they were trying to make me be like them when in reality I wanted to be myself on Instagram. It’s no surprise that the person had no followers either!
I have also had to put up with accounts that encouraged me to get more accounts to follow me, so I reported those accounts and Instagram took them down. I thought those accounts were spam and they made me feel like an easy target as a small Instagrammer.
Once when I was browsing my Instagram, I saw a photo that I completely disagreed with and found offensive towards a certain demographic of people, so I reported it to Instagram. I was completely dissatisfied with the outcome of the report I made because Instagram thought that it did not violate their community guidelines. Despite that person posting the distasteful Instagram post, most of what they post is more positive on the whole.
There were times when I wasn’t sure if certain accounts that followed me were legitimate or not, especially those that seemed to represent a particular charity or a celebrity. Luckily a lot of accounts I follow on Instagram are verified, so I know that the charity or celebrity behind that account is definitely the real deal. I have even had celebrities such as Lisa Scott-Lee from the pop band Steps (one of my favourites in my youth and I still love them today – their song ‘Stomp’ is partly where I got my blog name and Instagram username from) and the former child actress and current voice actress Liliana Mumy (voice of Leni Loud in ‘The Loud House’) like my comments on their posts or any posts in relation to them, which made me feel starstruck in a good way and assured that they were the actual Lisa and Liliana thanks to their blue ticks.
All in all despite the negativities of receiving difficult comments on my photos and spam accounts following me, I have had a mostly positive experience with my four years on Instagram so far. I have especially found that people have been engaging with my content on Instagram more in comparison to that on other social media platforms.
What are your thoughts on Instagram? Please let me know in the comments below.
If you want to follow me on Instagram, my username is stompgal87.