What I think about Instagram

Came across this piece titled All Fitness Influencers are Full of Shit.

Fitness influencing is a microcosm representative of the bigger picture on Instagram. Instagram is a medium that’s tailor made for advertising. It’s visually sumptuous, low information density, one-to-many communication. Surfing Instagram doesn’t engage the higher brain functions. It doesn’t make you think. Engagement is sentiment driven.

Marketers love a medium like that, since they’re usually looking to tap into some kind of primal emotion. So while it started out as a place for sharing selfies and vacation photos, Instagram has increasingly attracted people with marketing-oriented brains and goals. The “influencer” trend is now in full swing, and influencers are basically just people who are doing marketing for one product or another, making careers and businesses out of it. And because IG is such a great medium for this, in a lot of areas like fitness, most of the posts you come across nowadays are turning out to be sponsored, commercial submarine content.

That’s what I got from the article, and it’s a great point, as multiple influencers actually say in the article, Instagram is a great place to make posts that have commercial intent, but those same influencers don’t even use social media or surf Instagram, they just post the ads they’re paid to post and get on with their work day.

Instagram is basically becoming cable TV. One-way, minimal interactivity, people constantly pushing advertisements at you. All that’s changed is some guy in a suit now assigns $X of his annual marketing budget to some roided up IG influencer instead of to conventional media, and then gets on with his work day.

Facebook should consider doing what responsible journalistic outlets do, which is require that all sponsored content be clearly labeled as such. Advertising requires clear disclosure. In fact if they don’t do a better job at this, then in a few years we might see the FTC getting involved and reviewing whether influencers are complying with endorsement guidelines, and whether those guidelines are up to date and relevant in the social media era.

I’d love it if there was some platform where spending money actually reduces your reach, that’s a platform I would use, specifically because it’d be a terrible tool for marketers. Most of the platforms I enjoy, like Hacker News, Reddit, Mastodon and SDF, are resilient against marketer intrusion in one way or another.