If Instagram was high school, the Explore tab would be the cool table. It would be like the Mean Girls of the Instagram high school. And I’d be sitting in the distance, far, so very far, from the Explore Tab Cool Table, eating candy bars, churning out equal parts envy and judgement. I’d be Liz Lemon. The Liz Lemon of the Mean Girls of Instagram. Not like the Tina Fey teacher character in Mean Girls, but like, the…wait…I’m mixing my metaphors and now I’m confused.
My point is, most of us spent our high school years trying to emulate the cool kids, and if your aspirations in life are to be internet famous, and be honest with yourself, they totally are, then there is much to learn from the Explore Tab about what’s cool.
It’s a rare accolade to be featured on the Instagram “popular page,” and one that cannot be attained by number of likes alone. No, its far more elusive than that. Instagram boasts an intricate and ever-changing algorithm for it’s featured photos, but the proof is in the pudding, and after meticulously studying (read: staring longingly at) the Explore Tab for several days, I’ve come up with some tips to maximize your chances at being Instagram Cool. Here’s the breakdown:
Upon first glance, the Explore tab appears to be equal parts dogs, fat babies, and hot selfies. If you’re not hot, this can be remedied by taking your selfies with a dog or fat baby. I guess the Explore Tab is a lot like picking up hot chicks in a park. Dogs and babies always help your chances.
If you’re hot AND you have a dog/fat baby, you are the perfect storm of Instagram popularity, and you shouldn’t even be reading this.
If you’re a female, there are several factors to take into consideration when posting a successful selfie. The thicker your eyebrows are, the better. I’m pretty sure the Explore Tab algorithm has a steadfast eyebrow thickness component. If you don’t have thick eyebrows, however, all is not lost. Colorful crop tops are an acceptable substitute. Pair your crop top with a high bun and a sparkling blue pool, and you’re golden. Basically, reproduce any Pac Sun ad, and you can’t go wrong.
Other common components of the successful female selfie are white sand beaches, friends with thick eyebrows, post-workout bronzed and glowing full-body pics, or any photos in which you’re wearing yoga pants.
I have not succeeded here. My eyebrows are blonde and inadequate, I own no dogs or babies, and after I exercise, I look like a dead farm animal. I post selfies like this.
If you’re a male, there are several factors that can land you on the popular page. Firstly, you can be irrefutably good looking. Men don’t take as many selfies as women, so there’s (probably) a market for sickeningly handsome male selfies. If you aren’t personally handsome, you can post a photo of Harry Styles and that seems to work just as well. Harry Styles is always on the popular page. You can also post a photo of your sick new kicks.
Another common Explore Tab contender? Food. But not just any food. It has to be enticing and colorful like the food in McDonalds commercials. It can’t be limp and pallid like what you actually get at McDonalds. It should be on a festive plate, or teeming with colorful vegetables, or it should be a pile of candy. If you really want to share your mashed potatoes with the world, you can sprinkle a little paprika on top; my grandma says the presentation makes a world of difference.
And finally, it’s a long shot, but you can try your chances at Instagram popularity with any of the eccentricities of the internet that you happen to come across. I’m sure I don’t have to explain to you that the internet loves weird shit. Nicolas Cage memes, inexplicable, pose-based internet fads or clothing decorated with the face of George Costanza, for example. If you manage to tap into the internet’s collective idiosyncrasy, the sky’s the limit.
Good Luck. If you succeed, don’t forget me. If you fail, I’ll be sitting on the couch eating corn out of a can and not sharing it on the internet. I love company.