instagram has been my favorite social media platform for a while now. i love sharing square shaped snapshots of my life and thoughts, documenting parts of my days. and i love seeing other people's images, peeks into their life and thoughts.
my IG Explore page 🔍
one of my favorite features of instagram is the little magnifying glass "Explore" icon. when i tap it, instagram shows me a collection of pictures and videos and other IG users that i "Might Like" based on my other likes and people i follow. instagram is usually spot on with it's recommendations. this morning, for instance, i clicked on the magnifying glass and the first video recommended is one of Ysabelle Capitule, dancer and choreographer. i watched it and she is AMAZING. i clicked on her profile and watched her other videos and spent way too much time looking through her images. YES, instagram! nailed it! i love perusing this part of IG and finding new accounts to follow.
my Posts You've Liked page
one click on my IG Explore or Posts You've Liked page and it is pretty obvs the kind of posts i like: fitness/workout insp, hip hop dancers, clean/healthy foods and recipes, scripture/encouraging words, high end casual/mom/sporty fashion, makeup tutorials, worship bands/Christian musicians, family/mom life, Madonna (hahahaha), and homeschooling.
i remember one time when the curated suggestions on my IG Explore page were waaaayyyy off. the suggestions were all cake pops, obstacle illusions, and silly memes. i like those things just fine, just not necessarily the types of IG posts i'm wanting all up in my feed. as it turned out, my daughter had been using instagram on my phone, searching for cake pop recipes, cool obstacle illusions, and funny dogs. instagram was curating posts and accounts based on her searches, messing with the algorithm of my suggested posts.
it just goes to show that instagram is paying attention. and if we're not careful with our likes and our follows, we'll end up with all kinds of nonsense in our feed and in our suggestions. liking every single image in my feed might win me the award for Nicest IG'er Ever, but it's not realistic. there just might be a hidden meaning behind my likes, like those listed in huffpost's tongue in cheek 12 Secret Reasons Why People Like Your Posts.
but if i'm completely honest with myself (and with you) i really don't like every single image in my feed. i've given myself the freedom to not hit the LIKE button willy-nilly. just because i like the person posting it, doesn't mean i have to like all of their posts. that said, just because i didn't click like doesn't always mean i didn't like the post. it could very well mean that i simply didn't see it yet.
i did a little self social research just for fun. why do i click the LIKE button on certain posts and not on others? and conversely, why do some of my posts get more LIKES than others? believe me, i don't care about the number of likes or clicks on my posts, IG, Facebook, blog, or otherwise. that's not why i instagram. this is not about how to get more likes. this is about understanding the WHY behind my likes. i looked at my IG Explore page, at my most liked posts, and at my IG Posts You've Liked page, and discovered why i like your post. (this list is IG specific but could probably pertain to FB as well...)
// it isn't overly staged. aside from marketing images, which are by design staged, i like images that are realistically captured. i like thinking about the seconds just before the photo was taken. i imagine a mom telling her kids "say cheese!" or "sit still real quick" or she's sneaking a quick picture of that sweet moment before it passes. if, when i look at the picture, it seems like it involved special lighting, took a handful of "takes," or required a "photo shoot" with reluctant subjects, i probably won't like it. if it looks like you said, "honey, take a picture of me and my new outfit/the kids being cute/me washing dishes/me napping with the baby/____" i probably won't like it. i want to see people, not models. i want to see real, not catalog.
// it's filtered but not fake. the filter should add to the image, not distract from. i don't necessarily care about the #nofilter hashtag. it doesn't matter to me if you used a filter or not, as long as the filter isn't making the picture crazy. i like your post if your skin doesn't look airbrushed, the sky is an actual sky color, and your eyes aren't suddenly an unnatural shade of blue.
// it has nice aesthetics. i like pretty pictures. curly calligraphy. a colorful bouquet of flowers. the sunrise over the horizon. snowy mountains. your decorated mantle. i like the use of the white space. i like unusual angles of ordinary subjects. i'm sorry, but i won't click the like button on a photo of a bruised stubbed toe, a plate with unidentifiable food scraps, or a pile of laundry. the only exception would be if the caption is super captivating, convicting, or convincing.
// it's helpful and generous. i like posts where i learn something about something or about someone. i like posts that share words of wisdom. i like posts that offer a practical resource or tip or advice, and i like posts that are thought-provoking and inspiring. i like posts that tag products and brands, i like posts that include the recipe or link to the blog post, and i like posts that credit the photographer or author.
// it points to Jesus. i like posts that give a shout-out to God. i like your picture of birds on a telephone wire with your caption about God's constant provision in your life. i like the picture of your morning devotional notes. i like the picture of your #ootd featuring #witnesswear. say what you will, John Crist, but as long as they aren't overly staged, i like Christian girl instagram posts.
// it isn't all about your selfie. i'm okay with selfies in moderation, selfies with a purpose, and well-taken selfies. is every other one of your posts a selfie? unless your account is makeup tutorials or fashion inspiration, i probably won't like it. is your selfie post all about how amazing you are? i might not like it. is your selfie over-filtered or do you constantly post snapchat selfies? no thanks. is the selfie taken way too up close, or from underneath the chin so that we're looking up nostrils or at lots of neck? one word: nope. (selfie taking tips. you're welcome)
// it's believable. this goes hand in hand with the un-staged images that i like. i like your post because i believe that you really did that thing, wore that outfit, ate that food, went to that place, had those thoughts, and captured that moment in real time. it wasn't posed and fake for the sake of an IG post. i trust that your post reflects your real life, so i click like. you are documenting and memorializing. you aren't trying to be insta-famous.
// it's neither braggy nor self-loathing. this is more about the caption, usually, than the image itself. i like your posts that tell me about your win, your success, your achievements. i think it's neat that you went to that party and hung out with those people. i'll click like! but if that's all you ever post, if you're always name dropping, it starts to come across braggy. on the other extreme, too many "humble" posts can come across as self-loathing. i like that you're honest about your bad day, your mom fail moment, your messy kitchen. but if your posts constantly come across as woe-is-me or "look at how real i am," i will keep swiping past. i like posts that balance humility and honesty.
// it's personal but protective. i like your posts of peeks into your life. your kids dressed crazy for school, your date night outfit, your Starbucks cup, the skincare products you're currently loving. i like that you share a personal glimpse of what's going on in your world. but i also like that you keep some things protected. you don't over-share. you know what moments are sacred and what photos should stay in your private collection. i imagine my kids and my husband and my mom looking through my IG feed and i wonder, would they be comfortable with me sharing this? i hope the answer would be yes, and i hope the same for the people's posts i like.
// it's different. i like posts that are creative. if everyone is doing the coffee-bible-candle photo, i'll pass those and click like on the photo of coffee-bible-sleeping cat. it's different. i also like posts that i haven't already seen on FB or twitter. there's a time and a place for sharing on multiple platforms, i get it, strategy, but i especially like fresh and original content in my IG feed. i like that your posts are a reflection of unique you. i like that your IG pics seem exclusive, and as one of your followers, i'm in.
my 9 most liked IG posts in 2016
realizing why i like the posts i like helps me curate a feed of images and content that inspires me, makes me smile, makes me think, makes me care, and has me nodding my head in agreement. knowing why i like what i like also helps me consider why i'm posting what i'm posting. my IG Explore and Posts You've Liked page say a lot about me and what/who i like. i don't know if there's a right or wrong way to instagram. all i know is that if i can control what i see and who i'm connecting with, i will, and i'm going to make the most of this fun photo-sharing-microblogging app.
do you know why you like what you like on instagram? ❤️️