Instagram: The Digital Schoolyard

Back to my own research now, we’ve explored both the negative and positive messages portrayed by Instagram influencers. As a tool of personal brand building, it is important to convey messages across the platform effectively to grow as a digital icon. Whether you have 2000, 10,000 or 100,000 followers on Instagram, effectively portraying yourself as ‘real’ and/or ‘positively driven’ can benefit individuals in the long run.

Throughout my research, I created a survey to expand on my own ideas as well as getting another’s personal opinion on the topic of personal brand building on Instagram. The survey asked participants to discuss the main reasons they use Instagram, their own definitions of what an ‘influencer’ is and share their own thoughts on the ways Instagram can shape the perceptions of others on a digital platform.

Based on my collected data; I received a fortunate amount of positive response when asking participants to define ‘influencer’:

“In your own words, define an “influencer” for Instagram”

‘An influencer would be someone who has the following and capability to promote or sell something through their Instagram page’ – Participant

‘Someone that inspires, promotes and has a point of difference’ – Participant 

‘Someone who has become an icon on Instagram, usually for fashion or makeup or being a model’ – Participant

Participants responded effectively when asked; “In a few words, do you agree that Instagram has the ability to shape the perceptions of individuals through a variety of tools? For example, reality vs. online.” Based on results, over 80% of respondents agreed with the statement above and shared their views:

‘We can post what we want others to see. We have been given the ability to project a different lifestyle and personality etc. through the use of an online presence’ – Participant 

‘I believe a lot of Instagram users such as myself use Instagram as a way to promote a false identity…in the case of Instagram models and beauty, gurus are unobtainable and unrealistic. It sets a bad example because it leaves you feeling as though that kind of lifestyle is unreachable’ – Participant 

‘Yes, I think with the use of stories and live Instagram I think that’s where influences can show their personal side’ – Participant 

‘Reality vs online’ is a huge issue in the Instagram community, as it’s way too easy to portray a persona that may not necessarily be you’ – Participant 

Based on the results from a primary data collection survey, it is evident that of the 25 respondents, over 80% agree that Instagram can be a tool of defying both negative and positive messages. As a tool for personal brand building, respondents summarise provide evidence that the platform can be an effective way of reaching large audiences that also agree with individual’s views and perspectives online. In saying that, the other 20% of respondents disagree with the question and this may be because they only follow people they enjoy seeing, are not a frequent user of the platform and/or do not notice the defects of online personas.

In summary, based on my findings using both primary research (surveys) and secondary research, it is justified that Instagram is, in fact, an effect tool for personal brand building. Looking at both positive and negative forms of Instagram brand building, as well as receiving real-life opinions from survey participants the research is evidently justified. Instagram as a tool for online digital personal branding can be viewed as a way of building a bank account or building a creative space for sharing experiences with an audience. Looking closely at a variety of current influencers we can see that building an online personal brand can be manifested effectively by either staying on trend or providing a different perspective for others online. So finally, yes, Instagram can be an effective tool for building a personal brand as well as a variety of other platforms. Instagram enables users to like, comment or share their own opinions and no matter what, someone will eventually read it. Effectively building a personal brand comes from being yourself online and sharing your own thoughts and experiences effectively.

“There are not enough people speaking honestly about their struggles.” It can be toxic to just be like, “Look at my life, it’s perfect.” It’s not. I struggle just like everyone else.” – Cartia Mallan, W Magazine (2018)


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