For anyone who relishes in capturing their poolside adventures, beach-y travels or California poppy extermination sessions for likes on Instagram, this summer is bound to be especially disappointing: You can technically drive around to some deserted destinations to secure a few sweet Instagram backdrops, but many popular summertime spots will remain indefinitely closed. And if you do document your haphazard excursions on social media, crowds of digital onlookers are sure to fume in the comments below (we already have proof of that).
But the greatest (and most despicable!) thing about social media is that you can fake the whole shebang: You can easily create an Instagram presence that relays fun, summer vibes, even from the (dis)comfort of quarantine. So if you need those likes — if you crave them like a starving wolf longs for meat — I asked a bunch of influencers and creatives for advice on creating a cheerful summer Instagram from the depressing reality of quarantine. Get your cameras ready, folks.
Break Out Your Summer Wardrobe
The first, most obvious tip from my band of influencers is simply dressing the part. “Use Pinterest to grab some summer ideas,” says influencer and influencer coach Charlie G. “Think Afropunk, Coachella, spring.” Influencer Marcus Lundqvist specifically notes bikinis, Hawaiian shirts and sunglasses as stylish, summery Instagram attire — the usuals, you know.
Make a Summery Backdrop
If you have a backyard at your disposal, great. “I have a pretty solid backyard,” says influencer Cole Benedetti. “There’s a lot of great pool and green-scenery content to be made back there.” But what a lot of influencers do — and what you can do, too — is create a flattering backdrop in your otherwise crappy apartment. “Use a white or beige bed sheet, hung up,” says Charlie (or if you have a cool, flamboyant bed sheet, you can try that, too). “Surround yourself with lots of flowers, either being held or laid out around you.”
Lundqvist agrees that plants as props and plain, white backdrops make for great summery photos, “so you look more tan.”
Devin Feldman, senior creative strategist at Day One Agency, and the brains behind several large social media presences, suggests getting a little more creative with your backdrops, perhaps employing a green screen or nabbing a large, cheesy, beach-y poster to pose in front of. He adds that “internet humor is just super dark right now,” so being obvious about creating “fake” summer content by, say, posing in front of a literal photo of the beach may help you come off as more relatable and provide your audience with some much-needed laughs.
Lundqvist says fruits and vegetables — anything natural, really — make great summery props (go ahead and pose with that corn on the cob, man). He also suggests “making your own summer drinks” and showing them off on Instagram. Speaking of which, Benedetti says, “I filled a martini glass with water and poured it on me for a shot.” Sounds like decent summer content!
But again, Feldman suggests being a little more meta about celebrating summer from the great indoors. For instance, set up a beach chair — or as he calls it, “a poor man’s chaise lounge” — in the middle of your apartment, and have a blatantly fake summer photo shoot. Just make sure to use a big flash or open some windows to get plenty of light coming in. “That’s a vibe,” Feldman says.
Some other ideas: If you live in an apartment, grab yourself a miniature, portable grill, take some photos while cooking and sound off in the caption about how you miss the grills at your local park. Or if you feel especially dedicated, dump some sand in your bathtub and have a fake beach photoshoot, acknowledging your weak attempt at recapturing real beach energy or bragging about how amazing your sandy tub feels (just try your best to not completely wreck your pipes).
Hey, if you have nothing else, post some old captures from when going outside was a thing. “You can always post some good throwbacks from last year that you didn’t get a chance to post,” says Charlie. “It’s great for keeping up with content being posted on your page and giving you time to plan and create content in between posts.” Again, though, be relatable in the caption — recognize that everyone misses being out and about like that.
Create Actual, Meaningful Content
As Feldman explains, the classic, vain influencer model has been growing tired for quite some time now, and a lot of people want real content that requires more work than just snapping a pretty photo: “There are already no concerts or festivals, so people are actually going to be starved for content,” he says.
That being the case, maybe swapping out your pool pics and instead being real, documenting your new quarantine lifestyle and hobbies — whatever they may be — is a better way to go. “The world always adjusts no matter what’s going on,” Charlie says. “Summer will go on, but differently, so you have to showcase how you’re having fun and living your best, safe, quarantined life this summer, despite the huge changes that have occurred.”
Huh, and here I was thinking being genuine was the last thing you wanted to do on social media.