Instagram’s not working, so we’re not playing anymore.

I’ve been down on Instagram for a while. It just doesn’t work for me or pretty much anyone I know.  Ours became an all-too-familiar fudge of travelogue, brochure and family album. And we tried, believe us we tried. But, like a clumsily applied filter on life (after all, that’s where Insta started, isn’t it?) our Insta, like many others, seemed to reduce everything to the “almost authentic”. Ever bought an almost authentic Rolex? Or given an almost authentic smile? Yeah, unfortunately me too. That’s how we know authenticity doesn’t deal in half-measures. It’s all or nothing.

Well, that was how I thought until, at an event for Black History Month in New York City last week, I was given a new insight.* Model Veronica Webb said: “What hip-hop did to empower the black man to own his voice, social media has done to empower the black woman to own her beauty”.

That schooled me. Maybe Insta’s working for some people after all.

With this new evidence, my view’s changed. Now I see Instagram (and Twitter et al) working on two levels:

  1. Where you have no presence in the mainstream, and need to establish your own voice, first amongst your community and then, through critical mass, often break into the mainstream (because at last you have the numerical evidence of your size and power – as Bevy Smith would have it, that has been its gift to black female beauty)
  2. Where you have a powerful presence in the mainstream, but your voice is mediated by others (and you need or want to communicate directly with an audience without this mainstream – Donald Trump, Will Smith etc.)

It just doesn’t work in between.

And that not-working-in-between is where B+A resided in Instagram (and also in Twitter, but that neighbourhood’s now so grubby, we don’t visit if we can help it).

We thought of killing our account, but Adesuwa, in our team, pointed out that many people (for instance, those who’ve recently applied for our Outliers paid internship programme) use Insta for news.

So, we decided that rather than kill it, we’d find a way to make Instagram work on our terms. Here’s our new rules of engagement:

1. Post on a need-to-post basis
One post that changes, when we’ve something to say. When we don’t we erect a sign to show we’re not working this patch at the moment.

2. Lose the crap.
We scrapped all our old posts. No one’s contacted us to complain.

3. Point elsewhere
We’re our best selves in real life. Go and find us there (or if online’s your thing, our website, blog and newsletter are linked in our bio).

4. Er, that’s it…
Yep. Keep it simple.

So now it’s changed. We hope you like it. And if you don’t it doesn’t matter. It’s only Insta.

*B+A define an insight as “non-obvious before; obvious after”. A surprisingly difficult trick to pull.