A couple of months ago, in the nature of an experiment, I decided to make some changes to the way I used Instagram as a consumer. I realised I was scrolling through a whole load of rather samey content, I was seeing a lot of images from people I’d followed because I’d seen a photo I liked, but a lot of it was, just, when I put my hard nose on, repetative.
The first thing I did was, rather ruthlessly, prune the people I followed based on two criteria:
- Was it somebody I was ‘actually’ friends with, and so wanted to keep in touch with?
- Was it somebody whose work I enjoyed seeing, or more to the point, would I care if I stopped seeing their work?
The thing which surpised me after doing this was that I had pretty much pruned my list of people I was following by half: yep, half of the images I was scrolling through were from people I didn’t know and to which I was pretty indifferent. Immediately, I was having a much more enjoyable experience because I was only seeing people I cared about living their lives, or photos I was enjoying.
The next thing I decided to do was to abandon reflexive liking – ‘scroll, that’s an okay photo, double-tap move on’. Because I realised that in most cases, if I liked it or not didn’t matter a damn. For the ‘group 1’ people of course I was doing it because they were going to see I had and think “oh, Andy liked my photo” (or I hope they do), but for most people it’s just part of ‘x number of people liked this photo’ and really, what does it matter? It’s no use to me because, unlike Flickr, I can’t easily just see all the photos I’ve liked. So now, apart from my actual friends, I only like an image I really like, something which catches my eye as especially striking.
That’s then cleared up ‘scroll space’ for me to discover new photographers with work I like, I’ve been using the adorama createnomatterwhat hashtag which is getting be new viewers and I’ve been going through every day and looking at their work (which was the idea behind the tag) and finding a number of photographers who pass my ‘do I want to see this stuff again’ test.
Overall, this has markedly improved my user enjoyment of Instagram,