Opinion: You’re Probably a Half-Hearted Instagram Commenter in a Pod

Emojis help count towards the gamification of Instagram’s algorithms, but they don’t really help the photographer.

This article comes after months and months of observations on how people interact with one another on Instagram. I, personally, am part of a pod of people who are all genuinely wonderful. We also all begrudgingly comment on one another’s Instagram posts with just enough to boost the other person up–and with nowhere near enough to develop a more interesting conversation. Since the start of the year, I’ve been working to cull my own personal Instagram following. I even made my Instagram account private, which spurred even more people to try to follow me. When I reject them, they try over and over again. All of this has been in an effort to try to just make the platform a better experience for me, personally.

Come now, I’m positive that you all know what I’m talking about; if you read comments that folks make on other posts then you’ll know what I’m referring to. The secret sauce is to say four full words of some sort in a comment. Then you comment back. The algorithm looks at this and gives you a boost of some sort. But the hack is to make one of those comments an emoji of some sort. The problem? This results in comments that aren’t heartfelt, helpful, or even intellectual. There is a huge difference between:

“Hey great shot! 📸”


“This is a remarkable photo! But I really wonder how it would be rendered if you made it into a black and white due to how the colors are really not all that important to the scene.”

This is the type of commentary that I’m positive everyone looks forward to reading and seeing. To this end, I believe that if anyone is in any sort of pod or really trying to hustle, then we should always try to give it our all. In the same way that folks want you to follow them back and become their friend on the platform, we should try to genuinely help one another and develop conversations that we can then take with us off of the platform.

I think this, more than anything else, is what is most important about being a photographer on Instagram and trying to fight the social media platform’s algorithm. Well, this and actually posting solid work.