Squaring Off

30 June 2020

Should you post a 'story' of your partner falling off the flamingo inflatable or not? Make such social media neuroses a thing of the past with our holiday Instagram guide.

Do: Get Involved
Research shows that 'lurking' – viewing posts from other users without posting or interacting – often leads to a negative or depressing experience of social media. The University of Copenhagen study published in the medical journal Cyberpsychology, Behaviour and Social Networking, also recommended taking a break from your smartphone for a week or so, when the opportunity arises. Unlikely!

Do: Be Adventurous
Users complain about fakes, trolls and algorithm changes, but one of the mightiest issues facing Instagram is repetition. For example: how many posts of resort swimming pools are you going to be subjected to this summer? Compared to inspiring images of the jungle, wilderness or mountainside?

Book that bespoke adventure holiday you've been flirting with, and ratchet up your 'engagement rate' – that's the ratio of likes to followers – becoming a de facto 'travel influencer' among your peer group. The secret of Instagram is that it's what you do when you don't have your head buried in your phone that counts.

Do: Exaggerate
Not in the 'fake holiday news' sense. We're not suggesting that you pretend you're tucked up in the pool suite when you're actually making the most of the executive double. Instead, present what showbiz types describe as an 'amplified version of yourself'. Focus on your personal peccadilloes and more unusual tastes. Go off and do that local activity that nobody else in the group fancies doing (important: don't get too enthusiastic about it and forget to take any photos). Sample an unusual delicacy from the menu. Take part in the 'fire show'. Actually, don't take part in the fire show.

Don't: Hide
This applies as much for those of us 'looking a bit grey around the temples' as it does for the most fragrant Coachella groupie.

A study by Georgia Tech suggested that pictures featuring faces get about 38% more likes, and 32% more comments. For all its association with contemporary culture, Instagram is really nothing more than assembling your nearest and dearest for a 1970s-style projector slideshow of family snaps. Or, instead, think of it as reality TV for people who think they're a bit above that.

And if you've put a moratorium on selfies, remember to focus on 'narrative arcs', or instances that happened to you, as opposed to the same scenes that everyone sees on postcards. Except probably worse.

Don't: Forget to put your camera-phone on 'square' setting
Whisper it, but fewer people over the age of 24 use Instagram than you might expect. So by no means everyone knows to select the 'square' photo function on a camera-phone when they take a photo for your feed.

If you're relatively new to Instagram, you'll need to get in the habit. But it'll only really become an issue when you ask somebody else to take a photo for you, and you end up with a portrait photo seemingly large enough to advertise your holiday on a banner in Times Square.

'Landscape' proportion images – the sideways ones – are even worse for engagement. If you do get stuck with an oblong photo, there's an app called Whitagram that photographers and other pros use to give their images white borders. This can add a surprisingly classy effect, and is most effective when deployed across the whole feed.

Do: Get a waterproof case
Some of the higher end models are especially designed for professionals who need to shoot on-the-job reportage. Think of all the great images you'll be able to create while others are fretting that their phone will get damp. It sounds extreme now, but you'll thank us once you're there.

Do: Keep your sense of humour
From 'ironic' messing around on a unicorn inflatable to impossibly floppy straw hats, everyone loves it when someone lampoons the luxury Instagram lifestyle. It's what 'super-users' like actor Patrick Stewart and model Chrissy Teigen are especially noted for. As ever with these things, it's best not to lapse into outright farce, but as any marketeer will tell you: humour is one of the most effective forms of communication.

For the most Instagram-worthy destinations, from the Arctic resort of Kakslauttanen in Finland to Cocos Islands in the Indian Ocean - and anywhere in between - be inspired by @quinttravel or speak to one of our Quintessentially Travel specialists: or +44 (0) 20 7022 6560.

Photography by Emma Summerton - W Magazine

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