This post was first published by The Croydon Citizen on 07/04/2017.
Instagram Croydon: the social network for Croydon’s new influencers
Exploring the social media underground charting ‘the Croydon revolution’
Up until recently, Croydon’s social media scene was neatly compartmentalised across the ‘Big Three’ platforms.
Twitter was where you went to anonymously ruin people’s lives. Facebook was where you went to post links to your latest ‘hot take’ tacitly suggesting that everyone is a racist. LinkedIn was where you went to tell people that you’re dying.
But sometimes change can happen so quickly that you don’t even realise that it’s occurred until it’s too late. I thought that I was at the cutting-edge of all things new media and knew every trick in the Web 2.0 book, but then I set up Croydon’s first fashion label and learnt a bewildering truth whilst marketing it online: all of the Croydon cool kids are now on Instagram.
What is Instagram?
Instagram has only been around for a few years, quietly picking up traction mostly thanks to everybody’s new obsession with mobile photography.
The social networking app is made for sharing photos and videos from a smartphone. Similar to Facebook or Twitter, everyone who creates an Instagram account has a profile and a news feed. When you post a photo or video on Instagram, it will be displayed on your profile. Other users who follow you will see your posts in their own feed. Likewise, you’ll see posts from other users who you choose to follow.
Just like on other social networks, you can interact with other users on Instagram by following them, being followed by them, commenting, liking, tagging and private messaging.
More than just a photo-sharing app
If you read the above then no doubt you’re thinking ‘so far, so what’, right?
The idea of taking pictures of Croydon Clocktower and posting them online isn’t particularly exciting. Especially if you walk past these sights each and every day. The problem is that hundreds – if not thousands – of people disagree with you: the pictures, products and people of Croydon are massively popular on Instagram.
To date, there have been over 200,000 pictures tagged #Croydon posted to Instagram, but there are hundreds of other Croydon related tags to check out such as #CroydonWeddingPhotography, #WestCroydon and #CroydonFood. Posts from Croydon Instagram users routinely get hundreds of ‘likes’ and ‘followers’ from people inside and outside of the borough who are interested in what is going on here.
Property developers such as Inspired Homes use it to profile the best of the borough. The Croydonist uses it to link to the beautiful cover art of their latest articles. Boxpark Croydon releases its gig announcements on Instagram first, so if you missed Stormzy’s secret album launch gig last month that’s your fault (don’t worry – I filmed it, watch it here).
Instagram really is the social network for Croydon’s new influencers. If you have any doubt about the power of Instagram, just read Maddie Duxbury’s piece, ‘I bought my Croydon flat on Instagram‘.
The revolution will be visualised
Croydon is currently going through a seismic change. It’s now the coolest borough in London. New people are arriving here everyday. New ventures are starting up. New artwork is appearing everywhere. New movements are changing the way that people view the area.
All of this is being captured, documented, celebrated and disseminated on Instagram for people who don’t have the time or inclination to read 700 word articles on the matter but still want to ‘engage’. Nobody cares about that anti-gentrification screed that you put on Twitter – we just want to look at St George’s Walk through sepia filters. The Croydon revolution has already been televised; thanks to Instagram it’s now being visualised.