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The Evolution of Instagram, Can We Just Be Real Again? By Social Colab’s Hayley Hilton

By Hayley Hilton, social media expert and founder of Social Colab.

Imagine this. The year is 2030. We see the bigger picture now. We’ve finally come to terms with the fact that there is so much more to social media than worrying about the algorithm, hashtags and obsessing over vanity metrics. We spend our time and energy focused on creating content that helps people, builds real relationships and leaves a  positive impact. 

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We no longer base our worth on numbers. Did you just feel that collective sigh of relief? I believe we are seeing that shift happening right now. 

I’ve been working in social media since back in the days when organic reach was still a  thing and we used questionable Instagram filters. Just the other day I took a scroll down my Instagram feed all the way down to 2011 and was immediately overwhelmed with a  sense of freedom for when we just posted a moment without running it through a 40-step  checklist in our head. 

It was honest, real and an invitation into our world. 

And then came the numbers. And with that – the rules of the game. 

The overthinking.  

The “do this”, but never “do that”. 

The worrying about ending up in Instagram jail for posting at the wrong time. Our lives became gamified. Whatever gets the numbers up, right? 

Editing the perfect life became an art to be mastered and in its wake came a crushing loss of self-worth. 

Enter Tik Tok aka the last ray of sunshine on the internet. Where social became “just for the fun of it” again. We got a peek into “normal” lives. Yes, there are some enviable kitchen  countertops that only us, team #30yearsold, would notice, but there are spontaneous  glimpses into our unedited messy human-ness and sparks of honest truths that leave us  feeling like “omg I thought I was the only one!” 

And just recently we saw viral Tik Toker show us it’s ok to take logos less seriously. 

We’ve seen these spillover effects on Instagram, as Millennials look to Gen Z for their evolved wisdom in this space. 

We’re seeing more raw, real and unedited truths of what it means to be human. Even the resurgence of the random photo album aka photo dump on the previously highly edited  Insta feed. Liberating us from the ruthlessness of having to choose just one perfect photo. 

We’re seeing a heightened level of self-awareness with the rise in #InstagramvsReality content. My personal faves being @celestebarber and @rianne.meijer. If you weren’t already familiar with the corners of the internet, you’re welcome.  

So what does all of this mean for business owners who are building their brands on  Instagram today?

Well, first it means we need to be fewer highlights reels and more real. 

We need to peel back the filters and layers of our brands and businesses to get to the heart of who we are and how we show up in a real way. It is 2021 and we can no longer separate our personal lives and human-ness from our business accounts. It’s a massive missed opportunity to think you cannot have a personality and be professional at the same time. Because that is exactly, what is going to help you cut through the digital noise and carry your voice to EVERYONE that’s supposed to hear it, all while converting followers into an engaged community and paying clients. 

We need less listening to social media rumours, and more drowning out the noise and figuring out what works for you. 

Less stressing about the perfect photos. More emphasis on the message. Less worrying about what someone may think. More straight-up owning it. You have influence right where you are. You just have to look within.  

We are entering a moment that demands you show up as your full self, and I believe you can be true to YOU, your strengths, brand voice, and creativity – and grow your business impact at the same time.