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Ready, steady, Serotonin. About the search of the self.

Imke Salander is a fitness influencer. With 157.000 followers on Instagram. Her hardest move: staying approachable for the community. A guest contribution.

Achtung, fertig, Serotonin. Von der Suche nach dem Selbst

How do you start a text which is not supposed to be an Instagram caption? Whose purpose is not to generate lots of likes and shares, using buzzwords? It’s been a while since I asked myself the last time. I launched my Instagram profile in 2016, today I am called an influencer or content creator. Parallel to this activity, I am studying philosophy for a master’s degree. But thanks to corona and the stopping of lectures the last free text work in the form of an academic paper has occurred a while back.

On Insta, I am used to think about what my followers would love to read before creating a text. Obviously, the caption must match the photo.

So, I lie on my back, holding my cell phone, and have an inner debate on whether most of my community is looking for some perky motivational saying for their home office day. Or if everyone is on the run for their training session and therefore wants to read some inspiring post on workouts. And then I catch myself wondering if this is still authentic.

Authenticity. The top priority everyone is claiming. My influencer “non-word” of the year. Because, besides the self- portrayal an influencer is inevitably practicing, the authentic placement of products is a major issue. How do I manage to place a supplement for recovery, a day cream or a tofu specialty in my feed, showing my conviction of the product in a credible way?

The authentic answer would be several weeks of product testing and thereon posting the review. The honest answer is that most influencers must post their review immediately after receiving the product. “We don’t have much time.” And: “Time is money.”

The necessary likes and comments usually are not achieved because of the displayed product, but they are due to the pose. Or to how much the influencer is ready to reveal. Or a question within the caption that triggers the community’s need to communicate and fuels their comments.

I would be lying if I said that I never applied this tactic. Obtaining lots of co-operations means also aiming for an effective and time spearing realization. Luckily, on my Instagram feed this approach did not catch on.

I have the pleasure to share the flat with two thirds of my siblings. After every artificially created product presentation, everyone crashes into my room, bursting with laughter. Even a four-digit honorary for a shower creme is not worth such an exposure.

So, my motto over the last years is: “Only recommend products you really tested thoroughly enough to suggest them to your family.” Until now this is working absolutely fine for me.

Yet it feels good to see the number of likes under your post growing three-, four- or even five- digit only seconds after posting. It is long known that a high number of likes causes a release of serotonin. While no one ever speaks about the process a content creator is going through when the expected likes are not achieved.

If you have a business account on Instagram, you automatically receive statistics on what kind of photos perform best on your social media feed. Quite often this does not match with your own perception.

My account was created from the idea of sharing workout inspiration. So, I expected my followers to look specifically for my content on workouts and motivation.

According to statistics however, my most popular posts are not about sports, but lifestyle content.

This is one of the biggest problems with Instagram. Surely, it is tempting to orient exclusively to the community’s preferences and create all posts according to them. It is not only about publishing photos, but also political statements, recommending a product or not, and general, social attitude.

What is really displaying your opinion? And what are you posting to get the likes? When you are no longer able to differentiate this, you easily land in the downward spiral of social media. Because this medium lives on the insecurity of the individual.

Instagram does not help you find yourself. It can be a place of inspiration. But only if you already defined your own values and live up to them. Otherwise, it is a maze of perfect curves, vegan burger patties and Dubai photo love stories. All of this induces to lose connection with reality and the acceptance of human imperfection.


Achtung, fertig, Serotonin. Von der Suche nach dem Selbst