Since the re-launch of WIWT I’ve spent more time on Instagram than ever and it’s been an eye-opening experience to say the least.
I have a few Instagrammy posts I want to write as I feel like I have enough bees in my bonnet on this subject to keep Rowse in business for the next decade, but let’s start with the fashion side of things and what I’ve particularly noticed this past fortnight.
Some of the below will be painstakingly obvious to people who live and breathe Instagram, but I’ve only ever really used the app to follow parrots, United players and my IRL mates so I’ve found the whole head-first dive into FASHION INSTAGRAM really fascinating. And a little intimidating. (Okay, a lot intimidating).
HERE’S WHAT I’VE LEARNT…
1. Hashtags are as wonderfully useful as they are redundant.
I’ve always been very aware of looking spammy when I hashtag my own posts but the the fact of the matter is that you HAVE TO if you want your pics to be found by people who don’t already follow you. The problem is people over-tag and if you click on something simple like #styleblogger you’ll find a bunch of pics which have seemingly nothing to do with style and/or blogging. There will be some gems of course, but you have to hunt for them. This is precisely why I think the new WIWT is great (hello, I may be a bit biased) – it’s a nightmare to find a decluttered stream of outfit inspo on Instagram itself and it *needs* that level of curation. New WIWT is exactly that: a manageable edit.
2. There’s a HUGE amount of re-posting without credit.
This has been by far the most frustrating element in editing new WIWT. The number of poorly credited regrams is completely ludicrous. Call me naive but I didn’t realise there were entire accounts on Instagram dedicated to re-posting pics. I go out of my way to not include these pics on WIWT (which is tricky because they often have great outfits that I then can’t find elsewhere) but I want to only feature the original upload.
I can see the positives in terms of growing your audience when you get re-grammed by a big account, but it must be frustrating for people to see their images effectively stolen and so poorly credited, like “Image by Blogger Name” rather than using her @ handle.
3. For every niche, there’s a community.
I have loved discovering all the niche corners of Instagram. I suppose I’ve always known about the micro-communities because it’s how I use my personal account (have you read about my fave parrots on Instagram?!) but I’ve discovered so many unbelievable style bloggers in the past couple of weeks as I’ve fallen down the rabbit hole of different Insta communities. I’ve noticed they don’t always cross-over though and I like that I can edit WIWT.com to be a nice diverse mix of different styles.
4. The standard of photography is ludicrously high.
I’m quite possibly the only person left who still takes their Instagram pics on their phone and I’m only just now beginning to understand why style bloggers place so much importance on working with real photographers. I often find myself admiring a photo and thinking I should feature it on WIWT, when actually the outfit isn’t that great and it’s just a nice picture. I try to avoid using these types of shots because it should be about the clothes, but it’s hard not to get distracted by “ooooooh pretty”.
5. There’s a tricky line between gorgeous people and gorgeous outfits.
In the same vein as the above really, I’ve become acutely aware of how many of the so-called “super stylish” aren’t actually that stylish. They’re just gorgeous.
Photos of long lean legs draped across a crisp white duvet is about the most Instagram thing ever. They get thousands and thousands of likes. What are you liking in that image? Thin legs? Is that what the heart is for? WELL DONE ON YOUR THIN LEGS? I don’t get it.
I fall foul to it though and I repeatedly see myself going to feature outfits on WIWT just because the woman in question looks amazing, but if it’s purely *her* and the clothes are boring then I’ll try to resist. If it’s about the fashion then the fashion should at least play a vague part in the overall photo, as much as exceptionally good looking people are a joy to ogle over.
6. There are huge accounts that aren’t associated with blogs.
This completely staggers me: you go to read the bio and there’s no URL to click. It’s all just about that one massively influential Instagram page. It’s made me realise how out of touch I am to be honest, but then as a writer first and a photographer/model last (with a whole heap of things in between before we get to last, I’m really not a good photographer/model) I guess it does make sense that my blog will always be more important to me than my Instagram page. Words still have a place in 2016, don’t they? DON’T THEY?!
7. There are loads of eye-wateringly popular people I’d never heard of.
Again, linked to the above perhaps but there are literally thousands of “Insta-famous” people who I’d never heard of until this week. I’m a bit embarrassed by this and feel like the old grandma who has let technology run away from her, but I’m constantly intimidated and baffled by the fact there are seemingly VERY FAMOUS bloggers – even here in London – who I have never heard of. Some of them don’t have any presence on other platforms and I think this is where I’ve come unstuck by living so much of my online life on Twitter, but it’s been really eye-opening. And yes, intimidating.
8. There are some really great accounts that don’t have many followers.
The flipside to these huge accounts is the fact there are some really ace bloggers that I stumble across who have barely any followers. Their photos and outfits are just as good, but they just don’t have the thousands of likes under each photo. I’m always really excited to find accounts like this and I want to feature as many of the up-and-coming bloggers on new WIWT as possible, but it can feel tricky when search results are so saturated by the big hitters.
9. The “explore” feature is fantastic.
Full credit to Instagram here, I discover some amazing images and accounts through their explore function. I’d never really used it on my own account as I often found the results uninteresting, but as I hungrily devour through outfits for WIWT I’ve found that each day that passes brings more and more relevant pics. It seems to have quickly learned what I am looking for and it’s an absolute joy to use.
10. Smiling is a rare and wonderful thing in outfit pics.
What’s with the moodiness? It’s fun to be fun!
11. There’s a surprising amount of nakedness.
Yeeeeeeeeah, so I hadn’t realised this before as I’ve never really used the search by hashtag feature much but there are a LOT of boobs and bums on Insta. And lots of bodily fluids. It’s all a bit horrible and given that there are so many other places for such nakedness to live on the internet, it strikes me as a bit odd. But hey wherever there’s people, there’s porn. And lots of it.
12. There are some really colourful walls out there.
Like, where are all these wonderful places? Is there a map to help you find them? (I bet there is).
13. Sticking to a theme seems to be key.
I’ve noticed that the majority of style bloggers *only* share style on their Insta pages. Perhaps sticking to one thing is obvious, perhaps this is why my mishmash of a grid has never gained much of a following, but the style bloggers are all about the outfits. No eggs and avo for you, it’s SHOES SHOES SELFIE SHOES.
14. Everyone is on holiday.
It’s February and I feel like I’m the only person not on a beach or an epic city break. I better get back onto FB quickly to remind myself that real life is in fact rather dull.
15. People post lots of different pics of the same outfit.
Sometimes I think I recognise an outfit and then realise that yes, I featured it on WIWT yesterday from a slightly different angle. I do re-share links on Twitter in case people have missed it the first time, so I get it in that sense, but I do find it a tad annoying to see 10 pics on a grid of the same look. (Tbh I’ve always found it annoying when bloggers put up 30 different shots of the same thing in a post. Just choose a few favourites!).
16. THERE ARE SO MANY PICTURES FULL STOP.
It’s just completely mental how many photos there are on Instagram and how many get uploaded each day. There are 4.2 million pictures tagged #WIWT alone. FOUR POINT TWO MILLION.
17. I want everything.
I’m going to blog separately about my own Instagram account and how comically bad I am at growing it, but I feel like I’m learning a lot about it through new WIWT. (Side note: when does it stop being “new” WIWT?)
Whilst I definitely worry that some accounts are morphing into one big marbled backdrop succulent of sameness, there are some extremely stylish and creative people on Instagram.
It’s still one of my favourite apps and I’m enjoying obsessing over the style set again, even if it is whilst trying to take a selfie in the lift of the M&S dress I’ve worn 100 times before.