iPhone “culture” is probably the wrong phrasing here, but I couldn’t come up with another name and frankly, it just feels right to say. But, I’ve been noticing it quite a lot lately and bloggers have even began a conversation on it: The SLR, flatlay, overly planned instagram format we had going on for a while, has started to lose us engagement, and has thus returned the iPhone feed.
By iPhone feed, I mean pictures taken on our phones and not on our DSLR cameras. It could be any phone as well, not just the iPhone, and even I have tried it out to see if my engagement did any better and to be honest, I didn’t see a massive improvement in engagement, but I did notice people who I know in person were seeing my photos more frequently and giving me a like more frequently than they do when I post a scheduled SLR picture.
Why is this the case? I have a few ideas in mind and one of them is that people relate to it more. Yes, a feed looks a lot prettier when it’s taken on a nice camera and has been edited on a good software and is scheduled to go up at a time in the day that instagram deems the easiest to get likes and comments, but do people actually really care? I find myself following accounts that are a little more “candid”, and by that I mean accounts that just post whenever and don’t care too much about the quality of the content. I like tattoo accounts the most, and a lot of the time these are just photos taken directly after a tattoo is completed, and sometimes the customer goes back with a healed tat and that goes up, and I also find myself following regular people on instagram, so not just bloggers, the most, these also happen to be people who have hundreds of thousands of followers under their belt and get really great engagement. I think the cause of this must be the fact that their accounts don’t look commercial. They’re not trying to sell something, or rather, it doesn’t look like they are.
I’m not saying that bloggers aren’t getting engagement because they look like a store trying its hardest to get customers, but in a way, that’s how it probably does look. We’re trying to keep up with trends to get people interested and we’re constantly seeing Instagram as a much bigger deal than it is – are we trying too hard? I actually think so. I think that we’ve put Instagram on a pedestal and we see it as a much more complicated platform than it is. Yes, the algorithm sucks and it’s probably part of the reason I barely scrape 100 likes these days, but it’s also when I’m trying the hardest that I lose the most engagement. I look at other peoples feeds and I constantly compare mine and I wonder how I could change the look and get more people interested. But surprisingly, there’s no real way of doing that.
The best way to get new followers is by typing in hundreds of hashtags and hoping you end up on the explore feed, which sometimes I actually have done, and I’ve gotten hundreds of likes thanks to it, but getting engagement from the followers I already do have shouldn’t be this big conspiracy. It’s just that my photos probably aren’t appealing because they’re just trying way too hard. That’s the conclusion that I came up with.
So, getting back to the iPhone aspect of this: Before I started to post the iPhone pictures, I posted an SLR photo and waited to see the amount of likes it had, it reached 120 (this may have changed before or after this post going up though), and this took a few days to get to that level of likes, after a few more days I posted three photos in a row taken on my iPhone. I noticed I was getting likes faster and I actually pushed past the 150 like mark on all three pictures, which has been a huge task to do just lately. I also asked my mum to check her feed to see where I came up, and she follows a lot of accounts and actually struggles to find my photos a lot of the time, but I was right at the top of her feed 2 out of 3 times.
I started to think about a few reasons why this could be, but honestly I think it’s just because of the level of engagement that the photos already had before she checked, and I think that was thanks to the fact that people just prefer the look of an iPhone selfie on Instagram over a photo of me holding my camera to a mirror.
This experiment probably helped me though, because I’ve also stopped stressing over my theme. I don’t rely on needing to have my cameras photos all the time, and since I tried this out I’ve uploaded a lot of iPhone photos, and to be honest my theme looks the same with just a slight, only slight, difference in the quality of the photos.
I think we’re losing engagement because we’re too commercial. It’s time to relax a little bit and stop placing Instagram on a pedestal that it doesn’t even place itself on. I think that needing to keep a completely themed layout, and stressing over the quality of the photos, when to be honest I don’t think many people focus on the quality of the photograph anymore is a bit silly. But, if it’s what you like and prefer, then also no judgment from me because TBH I love feeds with professional photos just as much as I love a feed full of iPhone photos, but I just think the mass audience doesn’t mind either way based off my little experiment.