I’ve been on Instagram for quite some time, studying it a bit more as of late, and have been thinking more about what makes some users have more engagement than others. I personally think people who generally have more engagement are those who come across as more “real” and more relateable/genuine than those who just post highlight reels all the time. If your brand is built more on humor, then being authentic is probably the way to go. However, if your brand is more so on the luxury product/life spectrum, then you’re probably better off sticking with the aspirational aesthetic. It depends. As long as you are consistent with what your brand is, you can be “successful”- however you picture success to look like.

Posts that have clever, shorter, and concise captions seem to do really well. That’s not to say the longer, inspirational and real captions don’t, because it depends on the creator and how they use their account–their intent and what they choose to use the platform to do. For Instagram, most creators are there to educate, empower, or inspire. Whether that is sharing a beautiful curated feed or sharing selfies and photos without fancy clothes, Photoshop, or filters, they can both be honest, real, and valuable.

This makes me think about my own Instagram feed and how I use Instagram. Sometimes I’m posting a picture from the day it was taken, sharing my story or some reminder to myself in hopes of it also being meaningful to my audience, but sometimes, I’m posting a beautiful photo from weeks ago while I’m in my pajamas, not feeling my absolute best. I’m not on social media to convince you my life is perfect or to make you envious of the life I lead. So how do we make sure we don’t lose sight of that critical element of self-awareness when we look at celebrities’ pages? Is that how they really look when they’re staying in and ordering pizza?

However, just because someone curates the perfect feed on Instagram (or so you think), it doesn’t mean that they aren’t keeping it 100 with their friends and family in real life. Some days we can wake and bang out three blog posts, chapters of a book we’re trying to write, plan an event or develop a new business idea, but other days we’re probably looking everywhere for our phone while we’re holding it or perhaps talking on it. A lot of us clean up the apartment or house a bit before inviting someone over. The same goes for social media. Most of us want to be an elevated version of ourselves and try to portray that on social media. One square of a perfect moment does not mean every moment is like that. Not everything we see is real, and at the same time, we cannot assume everything that looks amazing is staged. Let’s have some empathy and focus on what is happening in our lives. If you don’t like what you are seeing, then don’t follow or look at it. It really is that simple.

We are human, so the weight of comparison is constantly reinforced every time we open Instagram, Facebook, or YouTube. Five days ago, I read this article about a woman, Jen Flint, who exposed an “Instagram Perfect” mom after she paid no attention to her child at a pool when the child was asking her to come in the water to play with her. The mom was staging the pool to take photos, hopped on a call with her friend, ignored her child countless amount of times, and later collected the sunscreen that was not used and water toys that remained untouched. Can you imagine the incredible heavy comparison many moms might be placing on themselves because they are not looking like this picture perfect mom having a blast with their child? The reason Instagram triggers us is because we know we aren’t in Vogue or having some gourmet meals and coffee in Paris, we’re at home with unwashed dishes, a messy desk, and dirty laundry.

With all that said, I believe there is a way to be transparent, authentic, and honest on social media. We’re human. We appreciate beauty, yes. We also appreciate when people are vulnerable and share parts of their lives that aren’t so beautiful and picture perfect. We shouldn’t feel like we must always put up a front. We don’t need to show that we are leading a life that does not get dramatic, messy, or overwhelming.

There should be no shame in creators sharing their beautiful images and wise, inspirational words. There should also be no shame (this goes out to all of us, because we’re all consumers) if our lives do not look like someone else’s curated feed. A photo can be a thousand words and still not convey the whole story.

TLDR; (Too long, didn’t read:) When we share our honest, authentic self to our audience, we offer a way for them to connect with us by relating to what we might have in common. We do not need to have make up on all the time. We don’t need to have perfect hair to be liked. We don’t need to be going on luxury trips every month to be an inspiration to others. People can like us for just being us. It’s how people grow to trust us. When we’re consistent, honest, and intentional about who we are, then we’ll attract the people we want. Isn’t that the point of social media? To connect? To use our voice? To follow accounts that give a breath of fresh air? It is more than okay to be authentic on social media. I sure hope we all incorporate more of our real life into our social media life.

What are some of your favorite accounts to follow and why?

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Aspiring to be a woman comfortable and happy mentally, physically and professionally, JustviaSyl highlights Sylvia's personal and professional development journey through tips, thoughts, and stories in hopes of bringing more positive energy into the world and encouraging us to keep learning, laughing, growing, relaxing and reflecting to become the best versions of ourselves and live a life we're remarkably proud of. To get in touch or work together, send a note to justviasyl@gmail.com

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