Friday, 18 October 2019

Why I Rid My Instagram of Influencers - And Maybe You Should Too




The influencer marketing industry is on track to be worth up to $15 billion by 2022 (up from as much as $8 billion in 2019) according to Business Insider Intelligence. 76% of brands predominantly tap up Instagram for influencer campaigns, compared with Facebook (46%) and YouTube (36%). So every time we scroll through Instagram, nearly 4 in 5 brands are vying for our attention, and have paid big money for it. Tired of the relentless sell, I recently unfollowed almost every influencer on my feed. It may have been the best thing I've done all year; and I'd recommend you give it a go.

My Insta-fatigue hit its peak over the summer, when I realised I was spending too much time scrolling through photos of models and influencers with lives and wardrobes that were unattainable. Whilst commuting to a full time job (and feeling guilty for snoozing my 6am alarm to sleep instead of gym) I'd waste precious free minutes looking at photos of beautiful people I don't even know (most of whom were at the damn gym). It was making me feel worse about myself, even if I didn't realise it right away.

I also found that Instagram was costing me money. Almost every time I went on there I felt compelled to buy something: one influencer's necklace, another's trainers, a really cute dress from a well-targeted ad. Even if I didn't buy the stuff I was seeing there and then, I often started to think that certain items were things I really needed, and would add things I couldn’t afford to baskets or wishlists. I could probably track a solid 70% of my fashion purchases over the last year back to something I saw on Instagram - maybe even more. Losing time and money and seemingly all sense of reason to a damn app is not cool.

I know I'm not the only one. Over 57% of millennials admit to making unplanned purchases due to things they've seen on social media, and 49% say social media has influenced them to spend money on experiences like holidays and meals out. Numerous studies have also evidenced the negative impact social media has on mental health and body image; with Instagram pipped as one of the worst culprits. Despite this, Instagram recently revealed that the average user under the age of 25 spends over 32 minutes on the app every day, which equates to almost four hours a week. Imagine what we could achieve with this time?!

That’s why last month, I decided to have a total Instagram overhaul. I unfollowed every fast fashion brand whose cheap clothes and bad ethics I didn't want in my peripheral vision. I unfollowed every model or influencer whose digital currency was narcissism and consumerism rather than positivity and empowerment. I kept my friends, a few celebs and influencers whose style or values I admire, and the brands I respect. But I culled the rest and cut my feed by around 150.

It felt great. At first I thought I might miss knowing what Kim, Kylie and Sofia Richie were up to on their yachts. But as it turns out, as soon as someone’s off your feed they're off your radar, and you never think about those people or how they look or where they are. It's refreshing.

I totally understand the value of Instagram, and that for many it has been a vehicle for hugely successful careers and unprecedented opportunities. I also know that lots of people can check out Instagram before cracking on with their day unscathed. I know not everyone has the tendency to compare themselves to others, and that not every influencer is bad news. Far from it: there are some incredibly inspiring people out there spreading great messages and sharing great content online. But I do think there's huge value in assessing what you're looking at on your feed, and thinking about how it's making you feel, and whether you want to be spending upwards of half an hour every day looking at it. Because that's a lot of time to be focusing on things that might not be adding that much value to your life on the daily; and could in fact be having a negative impact (when you stop to think about it).

After the cull I started following other types of accounts. Illustrators whose work I liked, businesswomen and start-up founders who I find truly inspiring, hilarious women like Celeste Barber whose posts make me cry with laughter, accounts that share adorable photos of puppies, and sustainable brands and influencers who are making a positive difference.

I feel a lot happier now. This is down to a whole smorgasbord of things, but I'm sure my Instagram overhaul has something to do with it. People say you should surround yourself with friends who love you for you, support you, make you chuckle and make you feel great about your life. We should view our social media platforms in the same way. The accounts and people you follow, who you're spending so much time with every day: do they make you laugh out loud? Do they make you feel good about yourself? Or do they make you feel not good enough? If your answer is the latter, you know what to do. One little button can change it all.
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