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Why we should think twice before tagging businesses in our Instagram posts

As Instagram culture develops, we continue to create false and fabulous versions of our social lives. We can’t help it. We ‘boomerang’ the gang cheers-ing eccentric cocktails that we can barely afford, we film the best parts of a night out when we actually might’ve had the worst time, and we post photos where we’ve airbrushed the shit out of ourselves. Everything continues to change – rapidly – and also quickly becomes normalised. That’s the 21st century. Another subconscious trend on Instagram is helping others grow by tagging businesses, brands and and locations to show off to everyone where we are and what we’re eating. At some point, we’ve all had ‘the great social media dream’ to live life as an influencer where we receive free products and simply post ‘how amazing and white our teeth are now, hooray for hismile!’

To at least pretend we hold national fame with 980 thousand followers, we tag everything we do. As wonderful as it is to help businesses grow and get their name out there, is there also a downside?

tagging filters

While many businesses benefit from all of us posting their delicious milkshakes and mouth-watering burgers on our socials, there are a few things to remember when you do this. One: not every business is as amazing as we say it is. For instance, in high school, I knew a lot of people who worked at a particular ice-cream joint that does indeed serve delicious, photo-worthy desserts, but the employees’ pay was disgraceful and the experience of working there was unfair and quite frankly, shit.

The ice-cream shop had great values, promotions, and wild alternative flavours for customers to say, “Wow, this is so different! I’m going to post this on Instagram so everyone knows I’m out eating these delicious flavours with my new boyfriend, Gavin.”

What many of these Instagram users don’t know is how horrible the production or employee experience is; sadly, this speaks for more businesses than we might consider. However, the last thing on our mind before posting a photo or video is “Oh, but what about the people slaving in the factory in China that produced this perfume?” We think what we’re doing is harmless, but it may actually cause more harm than we realise if the businesses we promote are exploiting labour. 

tagging culture

Another is how we may promote incorrectly. Imagine you’re out with friends and you take a photo of your naked burger bowl and tag the business and write all the ingredients in your bowl, similar to what The Hungry Gentleman does, except you are actually tagging the ingredients incorrectly.

Okay, so that example may not be a huge deal to the business, but it is still promoting incorrectly. If we turn it up a notch and think of something worse with incorrect promotion, it’s tagging the wrong brand or business to what is visually uploaded. This is actually doing some degree of damage to their business, especially if you have a larger following and hold a strong influence. Honestly though, some of these businesses themselves are falsely promoting their own products. However, as users and buyers of products, we should be honest and properly promote or downgrade brands if we’ve had an exceptionally horrible experience using it, or if we absolutely loved it and want to share this with our followers; this leads into my next point.

tagging iced tea

We are all guilty of promoting an experience even though we hated it. This is the worst thing that we can do as Instagram users because we are consciously making the decision to promote something that we know was awful. So why are we doing that? It’s simple; we subconsciously want to make it seem like we had a great time and create a sense of FOMO for our audience so that they desire to be us and do what we do. A great example is my recent experience where I gave my mum a high tea outing as a Christmas present. With high expectations from how the event was promoted on the website and social media, we were so excited to have a lavish day in the city sipping on tea and champagne all afternoon. Unfortunately, we hated the high tea. The food was horrible, the service was shit, and we felt like cattle being put onto massive tables with strangers sharing one small cake stand. We laugh now, but if we’re being honest it’s not what we had expected and that was frustrating. However, with the usual temptation to share my social life on Instagram, I sheepishly gave in and shared photos with positive connotations by using love heart gifs and emojis, and tagging the business as the location. I want to kick myself.

tagging food

Ultimately, it’s fantastic that we’re all ‘unpaid brand ambassadors;’ we are helping so many businesses grow and flourish! It’s important though to keep into consideration some of the minor, or major, impacts that we can create for these businesses and for the people who follow us. Happy ‘gramming!