How the Unspoken Rules of Your Instagram Community are Hindering your Creativity.
Be a Rule Breaker and Stand Out.
Just a little disclaimer here, in no way am I bashing any of the communities here on Instagram. Instagram is my favourite social media platform and in no way would I call anyone out for the amazing work that they’re doing. This is my own opinion on how I feel personally, and what I see in my own communities.
When I first started on Instagram, I was a full blown Bookstagram account. I would only take flatlays of books, and I would never be in them because at the time, that’s what I knew Bookstagram to be. Three-ish years ago when I first started, the Bookstagram hashtag was filled with these wonderful flatlays, so that’s what I felt like I needed to be creating. But I soon came to realise that I didn’t love creating these types of photos all the time, so why was I? I changed things up and decided to be in my photos a lot more.
Even though Bookstagram has largely, and vastly, changed over the years, when I think of Bookstagram, I still think of bookish flatlays, book subscription boxes, those FunkoPop things and Fantasy book inspired artworks. I don’t talk about any of those things regularly. I didn’t fit in to that category. Last year I distinctly remember asking in my stories what my followers would like to see from me in the new year, and a lot of answers were ‘more books!’ or ‘you’re not a bookstagrammer anymore!’ and that’s when I realised that there are actually unspoken rules in this community, and you are limited in what you can talk about in order to call yourself a ‘Bookstagrammer’. So I thought fine, I’m not going to call myself a Bookstagrammer anymore if the word is going to limit my creativity. I’m a person, and I have many more passions than reading, so no, I’m not going to talk about books more than I already am, thank you.
Once I decided to start calling myself a person rather than a Bookstagrammer, the creativity started to flow a lot more easily. When I stopped asking myself ‘oh, how can I get a book in this?’ I ended up liking the photos a whole lot more and I wasn’t limited on the photos I wanted to take.
I see this so much in so many different communities across Instagram. I’ve had so many private conversations with people who have come to me saying they’re scared of posting about something they like or are passionate about because it’s not something they’ve ever done before, branding it as ‘different’. I see people scared to try something new because they don’t think their followers will react well to it because ‘that’s not what they’re following me for’. I see people creating the same thing over and over again just because it does well. And to me, that’s really quite sad. Whether you want to admit it or not, there are a certain set of rules that we give ourselves on things we talk about. I know I have in the past. Now I say that these rules were made to be broken. Don’t conform, don’t put yourself in a box. NOBODY PUTS BABY IN THE CORNER. I’ve been trying new things and breaking my own rules for a very long time on Instagram, and actually I’m about to break probably one of the biggest rules of them all. But I just don’t care, because if you don’t love your account anymore or you’ve lost your fire, I’m a firm believer that your followers can tell.
Don’t get me wrong, if you want to label yourself as a ‘Bookstagrammer’ or a ‘Mummy Blogger’ (are they even called that?) or whatever other community, you go ahead and do that, there is absolutely nothing wrong with doing it. But I just found that for me, it wasn’t the right thing to do and I found that that it was stopping me from creating content I wanted to do, because it didn’t fit in with these unspoken rules that nobody talks about, but we know that they’re there.
If there’s one piece of advice I have for anyone it’s to be a rule breaker because that’s the only way to stand out.
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