Our generation seems to be a bit behind the curve with regard to Instagram, and for the most part, we have written it off as a narcissistic millennial playground. While there is an element of ‘my life is better than your life,’ going on there, it is not the defining feature of Instagram. One comment I hear often is, “I just don’t get it.” One of the reasons we don’t get it is because our generation has been largely ignored on this social media platform and very little content is geared toward us. An article on Post Beyond by Lauren Durfy includes the chart below which shows how our generation spends time on social media as compared to Millennials.
As a generation of life-long learners, I think we are missing an opportunity to discover information that is literally at our fingertips. Take a look at the Smartphone category above. Sixty percent of Millennials us their phones to research products while only fourteen percent of Boomers use their phones for that purpose. But, in the research products on-line category we are almost equal. We want information, but we rarely consider that a resources like Instagram (a phone app) might be useful for searches. While Instagram isn’t Google, it does provide one more way to access information. The fact that this social media outlet is visually entertaining is just an added bonus.
Instagram is a social networking app that was originally used for sharing photographs and videos. Today, it is one of the biggest influences of commerce on the planet. From where you dine, to where you vacation, to what products you purchase, it has morphed well beyond its humble beginnings. Instagram in a nutshell is simply a collection of neatly organized photographs with captions, links to blogs, businesses, and other information sites. Unlike Facebook, users are not required to use their real names and generally make something up. I chose Picture_Retirement for obvious reasons. Accounts can be private, or public and you control the daily feed by selecting whom you wish to follow. Overall, it has a positive, uplifting vibe that inspires creativity, promotes being active and involved and compels millions of users to purchase goods and services. Think of it as a slightly more sophisticated version of Pinterest. While the main purpose these days seems to be commerce, it does still preserve its purest version which is the part that I specifically enjoy; sharing photographs.
What to Consider Before Downloading this App
First of all, Instagram is free. You can download it from the app store on your phone. You will see this logo on your phone after you have completed the download.
You might want to consider a few things prior to downloading the app. For instance, is it just for private use, or are you looking to create a brand or promote a business. Not only are Boomers not participating in high numbers as users, they are also barely in this arena as influencers. You can read more about that here. Once you have sorted out the purpose of your account, set up your profile and consider the following.
- What aesthetic do I want to convey
- Do I have a clear vision and message
- How much time do I want to commit
- Who do I want to reach and interact with
- What type of accounts do I want to follow
How I Use Instagram
I have been using Instagram for nearly two years to curate and share photographs that I take, both at home and during our travels. The account has steadily developed a small (but much appreciated) following, and I love having my ‘gallery’ at a glance for show and tell when friends ask about my recent travels or want to see my latest photo.
My Instagram account has a common theme, which is travel and landscapes and the aesthetic tone is light, blended colors which compliment each other. The photos are generally grouped according to destination or subject (like the spring flowers above) and all have been taken by either Malcolm or myself. I use a Lumix GX7, but will occasionally post an Iphone pic for convenience.
My time commitment is typically less than one hour per day to post, respond to comments, check out new followers and review and comment on accounts that I follow.
On average, I post about three photographs per week. Captions on the photos always include where the picture was taken and sometimes I include a reference to my profile or recent blog post so people can find this blog. I use hashtags to distribute my photos to a wider audience, with the intention of drawing them to my page for a better look. Once there, they can scroll through the entire gallery and decide to follow, or not. I often attempt to engage readers by posting a reflective or descriptive comment below my image. It is my way of sharing not only what I see, but what I feel in that moment. Similar to comments on a blog, I enjoy the connection and community that develops through this forum.
Who I Follow
Most of the accounts I follow are travel, photography, or food related. I also follow local restaurants, our Chamber of Commerce, a few Botanical Gardens and entertainment venues in the area. I continually search accounts for inspiration and recommendations, but I don’t always elect to follow. For example, if we are traveling to Jekyll Island, GA and I want to find a great location for sunrise photos, I type ‘sunrise on Jekyll’ into the Instagram search box and see what pops up.
Likewise for restaurants and points of interest at any destination. If the photographs pique my interest, I will look at the account profile for a website, and if there is no link available, I’ll move on to Trip Advisor and search the business name for more information. I find that the two sites go hand in hand when it comes to planning a good adventure.
Just like Facebook, when you ‘follow’ an account, their posts will appear on your daily feed. I currently follow approximately 700 accounts which means that I have a lot of photos to scroll through every day. Some photographs grab my attention and I click or comment, and often times visit the blog post that is referenced in the comments. I have discovered some enjoyable blogs that I read regularly because I saw a single photo on Instagram.
Who I Do Not Follow
If an account does not hold my interest long-term, or ceases to be positive, I hit the delete button. I am constantly revising my ‘follow’ list to accounts that I enjoy. Most of the accounts I follow are travel, photography, gardening or food related, and I want to see good quality images that inspire, uplift, encourage and lead to good information.
I will follow some accounts for a short period (3-6 months), especially when we are in trip planning mode and then delete them when I no longer have interest. Right now, I am following a few accounts from Portugal and a one from Texas since those trips are still in the planning stages.
I do not follow celebrities, athletes, politicians, self-help gurus or religious figures. I also do not follow pets, although there are millions of options from pigs to pugs that might be your delight. There are a thousand other topics that I do not follow, but you get the idea. Not everything is for everyone.
Followers and Shortcuts
For those of us who just want a positive experience and not a block-buster following, the best way to do that is to be consistent with your frequency and content and remain actively engaged with your followers. On average, I get 20 to 30 new followers per day who just want me to follow them back. Whether I do that or not, they drop me a few days later. It’s just stupid, so don’t play that game.
If your goal is to create a block-buster following, do not fall for the “follow for follow” pitches and do not pay for followers. Again, that’s just stupid and there are no shortcuts. If a ‘follower’ doesn’t make sense, it probably is not a real account, attached to a real person, who has a real interest in appreciating your content. You will recognize them right away by a quick visit to their page. If they show 3,000 followers and have posted only 10 photographs, something smells. Hit the delete button on those accounts. Build your following the old fashioned way; earn it.
Of my 700+ followers, only about 12% are actively engaged with my posts in some way. I’m not sure what the average is, but I am quite happy with those numbers. My photographs are seen by my followers, and often-times, I am asked for permission to re-post, which means even more exposure. When that happens, it really makes my day. My ultimate goal is to create positive energy and make people smile with the images I share. If I get a little attention to my photography and draw a few new followers to my blog during the process, then good for me.
There are a lot of internet articles that will guide you through the process, so I won’t waste words here. You might want to start with this one. The main take-away here is to give it a try and see if it fits your lifestyle.
A Few Favorites
I am sharing a few accounts with you as an example of what I enjoy seeing on my Instagram feed every day. Your feed will be tailor made by you, based on your interests and what you want to see. Scrolling through daily posts has become a part of my morning ritual and I cannot picture-retirement without it. Boomer accounts are designated with (B).
#bestofthesunshinestate, #coastal living, #oneroadatatime (B) #silva_rosa, #fionapeters, #joshidaniel, #greenglobaltrek (B) #lisa_pinder, #bluegreenwaters, #tocreatesunshine, #onlyinflorida, #chris.obyrne, #kevinfreese_photography
Follow this Boomer on Instagram at: Picture-retirement
21 thoughts on “Boomers and Instagram”
This post is so timely for me. I recently started posting to Instagram and am just learning my way around. I’m one of your many followers and enjoy your photos. Thank you!
I saw that you did that. Thanks for following! I was going to follow back, but I noticed your account is private, so I respected that and did not make a request. That is a great way to get started and make decisions about what you want to post. You can poke around and create a good feed without having to tend to your account. I hope you will eventually take it live.
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Suzanne, I just changed it to public. Would love to have you follow my feed.
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Thank you, thank you! I started using Instagram a few months ago without really having a plan for it. This is so helpful.
I hope you will stick with it. The photos on your blog are always beautiful.
I don’t use it…I find I am overwhelmed as it is with Social Media.
I guess I am a dinosaur!
Fair enough. I am not on Twitter and have very little FB interaction. One size does not fit all when it comes to how we use Social Media. Thanks for stopping by.
Interesting post! Although I don’t post on Instagram often, I use it very much like you do. I don’t understand how it’s used as “one of the biggest influences of commerce on the planet” nor do I care. I just like posting interesting pictures to share and enjoy looking at the pictures that other, like-minded people post. I also subscribe to a few accounts that highlight interesting work by photographers who use specific editing tools I like. I’m not sure if I subscribe to your site (as I said, I don’t get on Instagram as much as maybe I should), but I will definitely check it out, as well as a few of the accounts your highlighted.
Consider for a moment Olivia Jade, who was in the news this week. She has built an Instagram following that ensures her a 6 figure income because people buy what she recommends on Instagram and companies pay her for promoting their products. It’s another form of advertising that is reaching a generation of impulsive, on-line buyers. There are millions just like her doing the same thing. It’s similar to monetizing a Blog with the intent of influencing purchasing. I find it completely fascinating, but like you, I am content to enjoy the purest version.
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I am only half hearted on Istagram. In fact it was my son that got me into it. I love looking at all the amazing photos that are published there. I post some myself and enjoy when people like it. I don’t really use the #tag at all…perhaps I should? You are a lot more diligent than me with your followers…700 is a lot to manage, well done you. I think I probably spend no more than 15 minutes a day having a look through. There are just not enough hours on my day😄 Great post Suzanne, thank you
Gilda, I agree that there aren’t enough hours in the day. I am good for about 2 hours in the morning to converse with my husband, check emails, FB and Instagram, then I am off to my activities. I enjoy beautiful photographs and find inspiration in many of them to improve my skills. We all find joy in different things. I am looking forward to your next post. I hope you are enjoying your journey.
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I just signed up to follow you on Instagram. You have some gorgeous pictures there. You certainly know a lot more about photography than I do, I will enjoy to follow your work 🙂
This is such a fascinating post Suzanne, with lots of interesting tidbits. I actually love instagram and post quite regularly. I like how visual it is ~ and I find it is a great option to facebook. I also use it as a way for our friends and family to get a quick peek into our lives. Also, many of our blog readers and blogs that we read follow us and vice versa.
The statistics you quote are what I find the most interesting. There is no doubt that the millenials have it all hooked up! In fact it was my son’s girlfriend who showed me how to use instagram. I follow for the travel, nature, food and yoga…. I almost always type in the hashtag for a place we might be intending to travel to, just to get an idea of what to expect, rather than use a travel guide as I am primarily a very visual person and a visual learner.
Thanks for some interesting insight into a world that is quite new to me, and most of us babyboomers.
Peta, I love your list ‘travel, nature, food and yoga’ and it makes a point that I wanted to get across completely; when you tailor your feed to your interests you will be delighted by the content, not overwhelmed or pressured by it. The ‘what to expect’ aspect of Instagram is invaluable to me and when coupled with a travel site, I feel secure about what to expect from a destination, without spoiling all the surprises! Thanks for stopping by.
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I should add, that I follow several artists, as being a painter myself, I enjoy seeing the body of work of other artists and sometimes even their work in progress
Interesting post. I have two Instagram accounts. One is for my blog where I post photos I like and one is my MG group where I try to post interesting plant based shots. I find a lot of info from other MG groups that can be shared and learned from. I’ve never considered it for commerce and probably won’t. I still use a laptop versus my iPhone because of size and ease of viewing. The generation gap is also an age gap that includes all the age related issues such as reading on a larger screen. I’m a baby boomer, and I’m okay with that. 🙂
Judy, you make a very good point about the size of type, etc. I never shop from my phone because of that very issue. We seem to use Instagram similarly, (gather and share information) and based on some comments posted here, I think we are a bit ahead of the curve with regards to discovering its complete value. The commerce statistics are staggering, and while I don’t see our generation capitalizing on that aspect any time soon, I do find it fascinating. P.S. I’m a follower and enjoy your photographs.
I’ve been an Instagram user for a while now but it is not a regular thing for me. Much like my blog, it falls in the category of whenever-I-feel-inspired. I don’t use my blog name and I don’t think I have ever referred to my blog on IG. I deliberately made the decision that IG would have a different ‘personality’ – ie a more personal slant than my blog.
I truly don’t ‘get’ the whole ‘influencer’ thing. I understand the concept but I don’t understand the motivation of selecting a product because some random person recommended it – especially when that person is sponsored in some fashion. I don’t care that they claim they are ‘unbiased’ in their endorsement … this is never going to be an honest product appraisal. I must be old-as-dirt, because I think this whole influencer thing is creating a generation of sheep.
I agree completely with your influencer/sheep comment. Malcolm and I call it the herd mentality. There is a discussion on another Blog today about an author who started out as a twenty something Blogger nobody and progressed to Instagram,then Pod Casts and now Best Selling Author and Motivational Speaker. It is a “self-help” book geared toward the 30 – 40 something female called “Girl Wash Your Face”. I have not read it, but those who have say it has some take-away value, but nothing new. The review I read said it is poorly written and repetitive. So, why a best seller? Because she has a mega internet following and might as well have written bah, bah, bah on every page. The sheep will still follow.
I like the way I use Instagram, but it has a scary side that should be bothersome to a lot of people. Especially those with young children or grand children. How is their sense of reality being affected. Just one more reason for us all to stay up to date and informed. It is not going away.
Ahhh – then you must follow Donna at Retirement Reflections too! I also read that post. I haven’t read the book, and at my age I doubt I will find any of it uplifting 😉
Hi there, about three years ago, we moved the focus of our entire travel writing to centre on Instagram. This was because travel, tourism and accommodation brands that we had long worked with suddenly started telling us that they were only interested in Instagram, as its combination of photos, video stories and video TV gave them all the exposure they needed. We have since established and operated the ‘Memorable Destination; suite of Instagram sites – @memorable_destination; @memorable_travels; @memorable_hotels and @ww_australia. It is far harder dealing with Facebook (which owns Instagram) rather than blogging or writing for magazines …. but, take it from us, if you don’t have Instagram in your armoury, you will not be able to deal with brands and commerce in general. Thanks for your great article.