There was an article about young people specifically purging their accounts, not keeping a linear feed. The way kids use the Internet is super weird. The way they use Instagram is very strange. My niece has like 500 followers and gets like 700 comments on a photo or something. It's fucking crazy. Her friends will comment 15 or 20 times, and then they're just having conversations in the comments. I think the comments section of Instagram is a very real thing for youth culture and much less a real thing for ancients like myself. I'm never really commenting.
I could engage more in people that comment on my photos, but I just don't. I'm sorry if you engage. For young people it's real, and I do think they use these things in a different way. They grew up with Snapchat and so this idea of a feed is not as important to them. Young people don't know who the hell they are, and constantly think they're reinventing themselves. They're just trying on other people's identities until they eventually figure out who they are. It makes sense that they're constantly wiping the slate clean and starting over again. It's interesting to look at it, and understand the way young people use Instagram or any platform because whatever the next platform is, will be built for young people.
Understanding their behavior can help you to understand where the future of social is going, which is seemingly more conversational and more instant and less permanent. I will say that having followers is huge. I had dinner with my niece who's a freshman in high school. The fact that I have 23,000 followers, which is really not much, is like a thing in her school. She's like, "All my friends think you're cool because you have these followers." Which is hilarious and ridiculous but gaining a following is still incredibly important to them.
There is this conversation about Facebook wants to go away from followers. They want to make things more a conversation between friends. From what I see with young people, they are still very focused on gaining a following and being an influencer and having a big audience. That is not going to be like DM conversations back and forth. I don't really think there's any implications for other influencers other than a drum that we beat over and over again, especially as all of us are aging, that is a constant.
I think as you get over 30 and you get further away from youth culture, I think that you have to be more direct in trying to understand it and immerse yourself in it, so that you don't get caught 10 years from now not understanding the world at all because your ability to operate in that world and make money in it will be diminished very quickly. I think if there's anything to learn it's that it's important to continue to learn how young people are using these tools.
I don't think there's any real benefit to deleting old photos. The idea that someone would scroll really far back in your feed now seems crazy, although I feel that used to happen a lot more. Other than if you're stalking a potential tinder date, why are you going deep on someone's Instagram, I don't know. Yes, I don't really think there's any benefit unless it was your thing. Unless your thing was like, "I always have one Instagram followup and that is it. I don't have a feed." That could be unique, I guess. You can build a following potentially doing something like that, but it would have to be gimmicky like that, I think.
- Hiding Like Counts, Younger Instagram Users, IGTV Metrics