The Key to Instagram is the “Finsta”

Instagram is a platform that I check regularly. Every morning I go through my rounds on Snapchat, Twitter and Instagram before getting up and starting my day. I mostly follow friends from school, celebrities, artists and news outlets and have structured an extremely diverse feed that touches all my interests.

What I don’t usually follow? Brands.

I sometimes follow the founders of brands, but I don’t usually follow accounts dedicated to the brand itself. The problem with appealing to teens on Instagram is you need to establish some sort of personal connection. That doesn’t mean you need to direct message each and every GenZ user on Instagram, but you need to make sure that you can interest those followers with every post, or at least make them feel like they couldn’t see that anywhere else.

This brings me to the rise of the new, secondary, Instagram profile of the average teen girl. Instagram is a huge part of the modern school. Pictures posted serve as conversation starters, filters are discussed at length and like to follower ratios are a sign of power. There is an Instagram etiquette where unless you are doing something amazing, you in no way are allowed to post 10+ photos in under an hour, and usually those photos need a witty caption, perfect lighting and wonderful framing. The “Finstagram” is the polar opposite, you can post what you want (usually photos and videos that will make those closest to you laugh) when you want. These photos don’t even have to be your own, but can be embarrassing photos of friends or family.

These accounts are mostly private and usually the truest representation of the owner. The main drawback of Finsta culture is that users get lulled into a false sense of security and start posting too much on their that could get them in trouble if anyone broke the sacred rules of Finsta culture and showed it to someone who could get them in trouble. Anything that is on the internet is never private no matter how “private” you make it.

Finsta’s show how teens on Instagram want to use the platform, and is a great tell on how to attract them. Brands need to realize that Generation Z is attracted to real content and pages that post content from their customers are usually the most successful. It’s not a company paying 7 people to create one photo op to post on Instagram, but a regular person who happens to like a product and put it to use that gets time to shine and encouragement from the brand itself.

MAC Cosmetics is a makeup giant with a huge presence on the internet. Makeup advertisements are usually misleading and aided with photoshop, but having real people post photos and videos about products makes it more attractive. Most of my makeup bag consists of items recommended by makeup artists on YouTube and Instagram instead of items I see in a advert on TV. MAC is one of those brands that post photos originally posted by users on Instagram, which in turn creates that real connection that Generation Z users crave. It offers true variety and connects users with accounts that that they might want to follow. Many of the people that MAC features are makeup artists, either professionals or freelancers, and feature a product that MAC is currently advertising. Not only do followers get to see the product in a more natural setting they get to see someone who uses it. Usually the product shown in the photo is one that is either part of a recent collection or an extremely popular product.

Instagram is a great platform for people my age. It’s part of the main 4— Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat and Vine— and it knows it. Twitter has direct messaging, Instagram then had direct messaging. Vine got popular? You could now post videos as well as photos on Instagram. Snapchat got extremely popular and suddenly Instagram had stories as well. Granted everyone just posted “follow me on Snapchat” but Instagram still understood where the power lies, and it’s with the young people of today who make or break platforms, and us young people now see that in their blatant copying.

Instagram is a great medium to share products or services and to see immediately what works and what doesn’t simply by how many likes a photo gets. It’s a way to be directly connected to the youth of today and for them to feel connected back. Instagram is a platform that was settled by millennials and sustained by GenZ’s, so brands and companies need to look at how they act in order to get the most out of social media.