Perfectionism : Help or Hindrance? // The Effect of the Instagram Algorithm

26.2.17
The other week, I made an observation. One which I've made many a time before but never really spoken about on here. So now's, your time, kids!

See, for me and many others, Instagram is a portfolio. A sort of 'archive', if you will, of our lives and outfits; a body of work which has individually been curated and cared for, to collectively showcase our skills and passions to the world. I know what non-social media moguls are thinking - "it's just a pic-sharing platform, it's not that deep" and look, I'm not dismissing that fact; you're either immersed in it or you're not... I, however, am not ashamed to admit that I sometimes plan my outfits based on whether the colours will flow nicely next to my previous pic (alright, slightly ashamed)

In this body of work, I try my best to always document my outfits... one might call it a “fashion blogger”, you see... hahaha. But anyway self-sarcasm aside, my outfits are predominantly the reason why people follow me, I presume, so I'll tend to sweet talk whoever I'm around on most days to get a quick snap (or 100) to keep my online fam updated. And also as a little timeline for myself, to look back for inspo or to laugh at past fashion faux-pas, which should most probably be burned from the internet. But we're not here to chat about that.

I am wearing

c/o Pretty Little Thing dress
c/o Pretty Little Thing boots
H&M shirt (similar here)
c/o Dorothy Perkins jacket (sold out, similar here)
ASOS sunglasses (sold out, identical here)
Chloe Faye backpack

The reason I arrived at this topic in the first place is that, as much as I want to share my daily outfits, things don't always go to plan and BTS of shoots (whether it be quick, iPhone jobs or the full, profesh sha-bang) are far less glamorous than most people think. I could take thirty photographs and only find one I deem as 'instagrammable'. And even then it's a push. It'll go through every photo editing app on my phone; the perfectionist side of me screaming internally as the quality lowers with every new attempt to make it presentable. And I post it, because I really do want to share it, but in the back of my mind, I know it's not up to my impeccably high standards, and it does hurt just a little.

To provide some more context, here is said image which spurred on this think-piece. 

Total likes after one day? 948. Total likes to date? 1021. 

Here's another less-polished picture taken for outfit sharing purposes.

Total likes? 909. 

And here is the product of a shoot taken on a professional camera which I was crazy eager to share and pretty damn proud of.

Total likes after five days? 518. 

Now, I know they say we can get too caught up in 'likes' and how they don't equal real world validation etc. I wholeheartedly agree. But when this is your job, and a huge part of it, might I add (most of my brand collaborations blossom from Instagram), you do have to pay close attention to your stats, and engagement only helps for review, growth and most importantly, improvement.

So do I publish a post which is instant, relevant, yet a little rough around the edges or should I be conscious to only upload imagery which is completely 'finished', at the 'top' standard of my work and entirely satisfies my perfectionism?

- the battle between sharing because you want to vs. sharing for aesthetics begins. 

Sharing because I want to enables me to post whenever, wherever and however regularly I want, therefore forever remaining relevant and not falling off of everybody's radar. It gives me the freedom to create a more varied feed, perhaps showing off a little more personality, but it doesn't give me refinement. 

Sharing for aesthetics limits me, because those days I've been the worst blogger and forgotten to carry my camera around can't always be posted. Those spontaneous times where I can't stop smiling and have barely thought about social media, but OBVS managed to sneak in a few snaps, remain unshared and for my eyes only ~ rendering me practically friendless to my followers, who only ever see photographs of yours truly (poor souls!). But whilst limiting, it also provides a true reflection of my work for those who may stumble across my profile. Something that someone can look at and appreciate each, individual image as art; a most accurate representation of my ability.

I'll let you into a little secret. One which also helps to confuse this predicament. I recently (by recently, I mean like last year, so sorry for being a selfish b*tch hahaha) found out that the Instagram algorithm actually favours photographs taken on smartphones, over those taken on a professional camera. Yep, it's not just a pretty face ~ Instagram takes a cheeky look into the parameters of your pretty pic and basically, in true 'stick-to-how-you-started' fashion, pushes your sassy iPhone selfie and raw, less-thought-about content further. Like back in the day before stuff got all 'serious' XD. 

I totally just changed your Insta-game, didn't I?

Now if somebody could advise me on this daily dilemma, I'd be greatly appreciative, but for now ... I'll just keep thanking the Lord for VSCO, UNUM, Afterlight and Facetune for aiding me with some somewhat-cohesive satisfaction! 

Et toi??



Photography by Michael

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