No matter how comfortable you are sharing your life with your followers, you probably don't want your boss to see the beach trip you took on your "sick day." That's why it's good to know when to change your Instagram Close Friends list — the core group of people who you want to give access to your shower thoughts on top of your more curated brunch posts. But who makes the cut to see your hungover Sunday selfies? What's appropriate for Close Friends vs. your main story vs. your group text? And how do you even set it up?
For Emily, 26, the Close Friends feature is a way to stay connected without making a public statement — a particularly useful tool in a climate in which it can feel inappropriate to post casually. "I'm not going to post a random selfie while so many people are using their platforms to organize around much more important issues," Emily tells Bustle, referring to the pandemic, the upcoming election, and the Black Lives Matter Movement. "I like to use my public posts for information sharing and impersonal things."
It's never a bad time to more closely curate who sees what you're putting out online. If you don't want your family or co-workers to see your dance moves on Instagram Reels, you can keep that content just for your inner circle — or if you want to make sure your Corona Bae sees your best selfies, you'll want to make sure they're on the list. Here's what to know to get the most out of your Close Friends.
When To Add People To Your Close Friends List
You can access your list via the main settings menu — Close Friends has its own tab — or via sharing settings when you're ready to share a Story. Though an Instagram spokesperson tells Bustle that the app doesn't curate this list, I've noticed that the people who you often see at the front of your Stories tray may also appear early in the list of suggested friends to choose from. You can scroll or search through your entire following list to handpick your official inner circle.
If you've ever found yourself on the Close Friends list of someone who you're not that close with, there's a chance they accidentally added you because your name was listed among their actual close friends. Or, they want you to see their personal content! They aren't automatically added to your private list, so you don't have to worry about your ex seeing your Zoom wedding announcement. But in some cases, being added to a Close Friends list can actually spark a closer friendship. Willa Bennett, head of social media for GQ, says she loves being added to the Close Friends lists of people she doesn't know well. "I feel honored! And usually add them to mine," she tells Bustle. (Bennett has previously been employed by Bustle Digital Group.)
According to an Instagram spokesperson, the average number of close friends that people add is 20, but you're free to add as many, or as few people as you want. Emily has 930 followers total, and has selected 60 for her Close Friends list. Bennett has 48 people on her Close Friends, out of her over 10,000 followers.
Choose What To Post To Close Friends
According to Bennett, a Close Friends audience is totally different from those who watch your public Story. "It’s not about likes or engagements but [it's] focused around cultivating a smaller niche, loyal online community," she tells Bustle. Emily adds that she finds people are more likely to respond to Close Friends stories precisely because it feels more intentional. It almost makes the vastness of Instagram feel intimate.
But just because you've created a Close Friends list doesn't mean you should ignore the rest of your followers. When you're ready to share a post, you'll have the option to share it with your Close Friends or your general Story, which can be seen by your entire following. You can toggle between the two as you please. If you've selected Close Friends, your Story will appear in your friends' Story tray with a green ring around it. If you've selected Your Story, the ring will be sunset-colored. This also indicates whose Close Friend lists you're on.
Emily says she posts on Close Friends more frequently than to her main story. "My close friends content is usually pretty inane: reposts of art I like, selfies, sharing music I'm listening to, making dumb comments on my day, and asking questions or starting polls where I'm specifically only interested in my friends' responses," she tells Bustle.
How To Edit Your Close Friends List
Things change. The people who you have on your Close Friends list might not always been the people you want to share all of your personal content with. Fortunately, you can edit your list at any time. Adding or removing people doesn't send any notifications, so no feelings will be hurt if you decide that actually, you're not that close with your cubicle-mate anymore. And as with any digital hygiene practice, it's worth going through your list every so often, to make sure everyone you want seeing your classified content is on there.
"I've got a few former hook-ups and crushes on my Close Friends that I want to see my selfies, LMAO. I don't stress too much about the 'implications' of adding someone to my list," Emily tells Bustle.