Nº 275
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Instagram Strategies

Text: Franziska Porsch, Malene Saalmann

Translation: Emily J. McGuffin

The way Instagram functions seems to fit in perfectly with our current day and age: either as a possible use for mobile photos or even as an artistic medium, it can be a communication channel, visual self-portrayal or an inspiring picture book. Immediacy arises due to the intuitive use of smartphones that gives the recipient direct insight and the sender a reaction without delay.

The design world also exploits Instagram either to document its own work and thoughts, gather inspiration, as a tool of mediation or as a voice. Despite the narrow scope of the app, various utilisation strategies are applied. We present five of these as examples.



 

The Crowdsourcer:
Stefan Sagmeister

Instagram: @stefansagmeister

First entry: 19 Dec 2014

 

 

Who is in charge of the account?

 

I do this myself.

 

 

What concept do you apply?

 

It changes. For a long time, I critiqued work that young designers sent in, because I felt there was a need out there. Right now, I am collecting beautiful things. I will go back to the work critique later on again.

 

 

What is your intention?

 

To be helpful.

 

 

Why is Instagram a more useful communication channel to you than others?

 

The audience is so much bigger than any other channel at our disposal.

 

 

How often do you use the app?

 

I usually post once a day, in the morning.

 

 

Which images cause most reactions?

 

The more beautiful, the better.



 

The Observer:
Peter Marigold

Instagram: @petermarigold

First entry: 11 Sep 2015

 

 

Who is in charge of the account?

 

I do it myself. I guess it probably looks like that.

 

 

What concept do you apply?

 

I like to look at the world, and then show some of those images. I don’t tend to show my work very much, just images of things that I like or find strange.

 

 

What is your intention?

 

I guess to let people know what goes on in my head and to give some context to my designs.

 

 

Why is Instagram a more useful communication channel to you than others?

 

I take hundreds of images, so it’s nice to be able to share one or two with people I like or who like my work.

 

 

How often do you use the app?

 

Maybe once or twice a week. I don’t find it so important as I don’t publish my work on there generally.

 

 

Which images cause most reactions?

 

Nice photos. That’s been depressing to realise. People like images that they like. They don’t tend to like images that they don’t like. Is that so strange to say? There’s a hardcore honesty in the liking.



 

The Collectors:
Studio Formafantasma

Instagram: @formafantasma

First entry: 20 Apr 2015

 

 

Who is in charge of the account?

 

At the beginning, both me and Simone were in charge of curating Instagram. After a couple of months, I (Andrea) got more into it. It takes quite a lot of effort and discipline and I’m definitely the more patient one.

 

 

What concept do you apply?

 

The main concept is as stated in the account: “Here we collect everything makes us happy.” We avoid as much as possible to have posts about our work. We do show mainly exhibitions we visit, places we find interesting while traveling, articles or relevant news related with design, but most of all feed about sustainability and migration which are topics recurrent in our work and that we think are really relevant nowadays.

If we share our work we do this by showing the research behind it. We never show photos of finished pieces.

 

 

What is your intention?

 

To inform followers about our practice in a different way. Our website is really complete, but with our Instagram account you can definitely understand our process.

 

 

Why is Instagram a more useful communication channel to you than others?

 

It’s quick and can reach a lot of people.

 

 

How often do you use the app?

 

We write and post daily (if not on forced holiday).

 

 

Which images cause most reactions?

 

It really depends, we guess the ones that have an interesting topic and a good quality.



 

The Reflector:
Liana Finck

Instagram: @lianafinck

First Entry: 5 Apr 2014

 

 

Who is in charge of the account?

 

Me.

 

 

What concept do you apply?

 

Whatever I’m thinking about.

 

 

What is your intention?

 

To communicate by drawing.

 

 

How often do you use the app?

 

All the time, everywhere, but no more than any other app (email, text, Facebook).

 

 

Which images cause most reactions?

 

Simple, emotional ones.



 

The Educator:
Alice Rawsthorn

Instagram: @alice.rawsthorn

First entry: 1 Jan 2015

 

 

Who is in charge of the account?

 

Me.

 

 

What concept do you apply?

 

I choose a theme for each week and post about a different design project that relates to it each day. Some of the weekly themes are timely: to coincide with the International Women’s Day or World Refugee Day, for example, or with the anniversary of a great designer’s birth. Others are chosen randomly, such as design debacles, design activism or design and climate change.

 

 

What is your intention?

 

My objective is to share my passion for design by showing other people what a powerful and eclectic discipline it is. Design is so prone to muddles and clichés, that many people see it solely as a superficial styling tool. To me, design is an agent of change that can help us to ensure that changes of any type – social, political, cultural, environmental, scientific, technological or whatever – are interpreted in ways that will affect us positively, rather than negatively. Instagram is a great channel for illustrating that.

 

 

Why is Instagram a more useful communication channel to you than others?

 

Instagram is fun, versatile, and dynamic with a huge global audience. It’s user-friendly in that I can post from anywhere. The visual aspect of Instagram is fun for me, too, even though my posts are unusually wordy and a recurring theme is to convince people that there is much, much more to design than aesthetics.

 

 

How often do you use the app?

 

Once a day, and wherever I am in the world.

 

 

Which images cause most reactions?

 

Dilapidated brutalist architecture is hugely popular, as are poppy graphics, like Lance Wyman’s 1968 Mexico Olympics identity. Lots of people say that their favourite weekly themes are the negative ones like design dust-ups and design debacles. Though by far my most contentious post was on the Snoo, a robotic cot designed by Fuseproject in San Francisco that uses sensors and artificial intelligence to coax babies to sleep by rocking, swaddling, swinging or shushing them. Child care is such a subjective issue that I’d expected the post to be controversial, but was flummoxed by the ferocity with which people responded and how polarised their views were. Some people loved the idea of the Snoo, while others denounced it as “terrifying”, “cruel” and accused it of “child abuse”.



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