Instagram feed: Are you “branding” yourself or promoting your identity?

The examine of competition in the context of social media is highly crucial as, 1thinktwice said in his/her post, this form of online competition may slightly be different than those that we’ve encountered earlier in this topic. In “Competition and Information Deception in Online Social Networks”, the paper draws out a lot of social theories in order to emphasis the effects of online competition as well as finding the root of competitive desires within OSN, including “keeping up with the Joneses”, social norm theory, social impact theory, and self-presentation theory. Despite the three appraisals for online competition, I personally believe that gaining social status (or social approval) is really the main element that manifest users’ actions such as the coping of personal information deception (PID). And follow this phenomenon are numerous tools and softwares that allow users to conform to one social norm that most online young users, or Instagram in general, looking for: Instagram feed. 

Instagram worthy 

First, what does the term “instagram worthy” means itself? To say a cup of coffee is Instagram-worthy means it includes the essential aesthetic and good enough to be posted on Instagram. Among other online social networking (OSN) sites, Instagram is differ in the way that the quality and aesthetic of the visuals (photos) are more salient than the written contents itself, thus pressuring users to produce a photo that will most likely to attract audiences and gain likes. On average, we spend 79 minutes a day on our phone curating, adding filters, and editing our photos before posting it on Instagram. The importance of having a quality and aesthetic profile on Instagram lead to numerous other competitive actions that users unconsciously encounter in, using planned-feed apps, filters-tutorials,…Filters and photo’s quality are not the only concerns that users think about, but they also become strategic when it comes to post a photo, such as when is the best time to post, how frequent should one post, how to use hastags/geo tags. All in order to maximize the number of likes they gain, as likes are equivalent to social status and social approval. Whereas on Facebook or other social media platforms, the form of sharing photos or videos usually associate with sharing memories and capturing memorable moments, it becomes a market for self-presentations and self-promotion to show off wealth and status on Instagram.

Instagram feed 

In the context of social media competition, Instagram feed (or theme) refers to the “pre-planned order people will post their Instagram photos that would result an aesthetically-pleasing arrangement” (Feeds, 2017). This is due to the fact that when clicking on the a person’s Instagram profile, audiences don’t just see photos individually, but rather collectively. Putting it in this way, Instagram theme reflects your personal profile, reflecting your life and your interests. As if promoting for a brand or any product, the better it looks, the more attractive your profile is becoming. In order word, it can be said that Instagram is another form of building person brand-image, where you’re “selling yourself” as a product, that people will associate and remember you as. For brands, Instagram is a perfect marketing tools over any other social media platforms. Research shown that our brains process visual information 60,000times fasters than text information and it retains 80% of visual information. For that being said, there is no doubt to say that the type and quality of images on Instagram is highly crucial when it comes to building a brand image.

Branding or promoting?

To what extent do we, as Instagram users, utilize Instagram as a tool for branding ourselves or promoting our identities? There is a very fine line between these two concepts, especially due to the competitive nature of OSN that encourage users to act in competitive behaviors.  Comparing between the “guides” that is used by brands to maximize their marketing plan and the guides that is used by users to gain followers, the tools are completely (if not almost) overlapping.


At the end of the day, all of the tools are aimed to help users (or brands) gain higher audience engagement as well as attentions in order to meet their goals. For users, the intentions of curating their Instagram feed that either promote negative or positive effects are nuanced. It can be said Instagram theme encourages our creativity and building our own brand image that allow us to stand out from the crowd. Nevertheless, at the same time we may encounter unhealthy actions such as the coping of PID or falsifying reality (smiling depression) in order to match with audience’s preferences and expectations.

1 Comment

  1. Hi! Great reading response, well structured 🙂 But about the guides, isn’t for most users consulting the guides the goal to become an instagram model/influencer and thus build their own brand? So wouldn’t that explain easily why they overlap so much? So it’s not just creating an identity for your acquaintances and friends, but also real possible costumers


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