Instagram

Trent Klowss, 3756159

Instagram is a social network app that allows its users to capture photos and then use a range of filters that are included in the app to enhance the final photograph. Once the user is happy with any edits made, the photo is then uploaded online to form a user profile; one that other users can follow so they are updated each time a new photo is uploaded via a feed. Users can like a photo and make comments, while there is also the ability to explore a range of different photos (not just from users they follow). Although this process has formed a community within the Instagram network itself, the app can be used in conjunction with other social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr as there is an option of simultaneously sharing a photo on these networks when uploading to Instagram.

Co-founded by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger in 2010 (Instagram Blog 2010, 2 Years Later: The First Instagram), Instagram was created to essentially provide a platform in which people can share their ‘life with friends through a series of pictures’ (Instagram 2012). The idea was to represent the notion that a picture is like a ‘telegram’ (Instagram 2012) combined with the ‘instant’ (Instagram 2012) fixation that we enjoy with social media today. With this in mind, Instagram focused on three key areas: ‘fast, simple and beautiful’ (Instagram Blog 2010, Welcome to Instagram). ‘Uploading, sharing and viewing’ (Instagram Blog 2010, Welcome to Instagram) of photos would become ‘fast and efficient’, ‘instantly’ (Instagram 2012) spread to all social networks that were required and using ‘awesome looking filters’ (Instagram 2012), provided the user with beautiful ‘professional looking snapshots’ (Instagram 2012). A noticeable similarity has been identified between the photos produced by the Instagram app, and the photos that were produced by the ‘retro Polaroid’ (Livingstone 2012, p. 46) decades ago; bringing a ‘nostalgic trip down memory lane’ (Livingstone 2012, p. 46) for many, even in this digital age. The latest update to Instagram has involved the inclusion of a new feature, Photo Map. This feature allows users to ‘browse their own and other users’ Instagram photos on a map’ (Trewe 2012), allowing for the growth of a more ‘relevant personal network’ (Trewe 2012).

The launch of the Instagram app just for the iPhone was in October 2010 (Kessler 2012), and subsequently this was when the first Instagram photo was uploaded (which can be seen at this link). From this launch date to now, totalling a timeframe of less than two years, Instagram has grown into a social media network that consists of ‘over one billion photos’, with another ‘five million’ uploaded every day, ‘575 likes per second, and eighty-one comments per second’ (Ladhani 2012, p. 46). This enormous growth in such a short space of time has led to Instagram being sold to Facebook for an agreed upon ‘$1bn’ (James 2012, p. 95). Rather than continuing with text about a photo sharing social network and its growth, here is an infographic using photos published on Instagram to detail its continuous rise.

(visual.ly, cited in Kessler 2012) To see an enhanced version, please click on the picture.

Mark Zuckerberg announced recently (as of the 14 September 2012), that Instagram has over ‘100 million members’ (Zuckerberg, cited in Meredith 2012) and daily, it continues to grow.

Statistics retrieved by the Princeton Survey Research Associates International (PSRAI), 2012, p.11 found that there was a fairly even spread of male and female users of Instagram, but when it came to age demographic, there was a clear difference. ‘27% of the internet users between the ages 18-29 use Instagram’ (PSRAI 2012, p. 3) compared to the 8% for ages 30-49, 6% for ages 50-64 and 4% for ages 65+ (PSRAI 2012, p. 11). This could be attributed to a number of factors including the desire of Instagram to be completely maintained on a smartphone. If we compare this to a social network that can be accessed from a web browser such as Facebook, we can see the difference as usage is much higher from the older age groups surveyed; 72% of internet users between the ages of 30-49 use Facebook, 56% for ages 50-64 and 40% for ages 65+ (PSRAI 2012, p. 13). It is also clear from the statistics that people between the ages of 18-29 are more willing to post pictures they have taken themselves online (at a rate of 67%) compared to the 26% of internet users aged 65+ (PSRAI 2012, p. 4). As Instagram is a social network relying on people to post their own photographs, from this data it is to be expected that there would be a higher use amongst the younger age groups.

Two key aspects of Instagram that differentiate it from other social media is that it encourages users to ‘transform’ (Instagram Blog 2010, Welcome to Instagram) original content and also the instantaneous actions that can be performed using the app. Allowing the use of filters that change the ‘mood and tone’ (Instagram Blog 2010, Welcome to Instagram) of the photographs, means the acceptance and acknowledgement of alterations to original content by users of Instagram. This differs from the make-up of many other social media as there is no requirement to divulge real details (such as a real name and age) because the combination of the creative (photographs) forms the identity of the user. Another aspect that differentiates Instagram from other social networks is the ‘super-simple’ (Instagram Blog 2010, Welcome to Instagram) integration of other social networks and the ‘smooth and speedy’ (Instagram Blog 2010, Welcome to Instagram) process to use the app. Simply ‘point, click, share, done’ (Rosales 2012) is all it takes to be part of the Instagram community; making it an ‘easier’ (Rosales 2012) social media, and one that does not require ‘brains to communicate’ (Rosales 2012).

(All screen shots below are taken on an iPhone 4, 30 September 2012)

This home feed shows photographs that have been uploaded by users that are being followed. The username, photograph, time since uploaded, number of likes, users who have liked the photograph and comments can all be seen on the home feed.

The explore feature displays a range of recent popular photographs (based on likes) uploaded by users to Instagram. From this feed not only can users like any of these photographs, but they can begin following previously unknown users.

Displayed in these photographs is the main feature of Instagram; the capturing of a photograph and then the application of any of the editing tools provided. There is the option to either use a photo already located on the phone camera roll or take a new photo right from the app. Once a photo is decided and any cropping is undertaken; it is then up to the user to add any of the eighteen filters and frames, along with a rotation, saturation or focus they choose (from the options provided). For this particular photograph displayed here, the Earlybird filter with a border has been applied.

After accepting any edits, the user can then add a caption, allowing for hashtags to placed on the photograph. This is where the option to instantly share the photograph with other social media is given. There is also the opportunity to add the location of the photograph to the users Photo Map feature. When ready, the user will press the share button and instantly the photo will be uploaded to the home feed and onto the user profile page.

The Following feed displays all the interactions of those who are being followed. This includes all likes, their corresponding photographs, the following of other users on Instagram and also comments that are made. While the News feed allows the user to see who is following them, when anybody likes or comments on any of their own photographs and the notification when somebody joins Instagram who is linked to another social network (which the user has previously allowed Instagram to access).

This is the home profile for the user of Instagram. It shows the username and profile picture, all photographs that have been uploaded, along with the amount of people who are following and being followed by the user. By pressing on either amount displays he respective users. The home profile also gives access to the Photo Map feature of Instagram, allowing access to the geographic location of users and particular pictures (if the user has given permission).

An important note regarding this social media is that as it was designed for, and is accessed only on mobile devices, a link to the social media is unavailable. Therefore this link is to a blog maintained by Instagram; where all the latest information, updates, news and featured photos can be found. It must also be acknowledged that although Instagram is restricted to use on mobile devices, third party websites have been created allowing access to the photos uploaded to Instagram. These websites include Hipgram and INK361.

 

References

Instagram 2012, FAQ, Instagram, viewed 29 September 2012, <http://instagram.com/about/faq/>.

Instagram Blog 2010, 2 Years Later: The First Instagram, Instagram, viewed 30 September 2012, <http://blog.instagram.com/post/27359237977/2-years-later-the-first-instagram-photo>.

Instagram Blog 2010, Welcome to Instagram, viewed 29 September 2012, <http://blog.instagram.com/post/8755272623/welcome-to-instagram>.

James, R 2012, ‘Out of the box – Freescale: How free models scale in the world of information’, Business Information Review, vol. 29, no. 2, pp. 95-98, viewed 30 September 2012, retrieved from Sage Journals Online.

Kessler, S 2012, ‘Instagram: From Zero to $1 Billion in 17 Months’, Mashable Business, 10 August, viewed 30 September, <http://mashable.com/2012/04/10/instagram-timeline/>.

Ladhani, N 2012, ‘The Network Affect.’, Social Policy, vol. 42, no. 2, p. 52, viewed 1 October 2012, retrieved from EBSCOHost Academic Search Premier.

Livingstone, D 2012, ‘Digital Nostalgic Moments’, Social Alternatives, vol. 30, no. 3, p. 46, viewed 1 October 2012, retrieved from EBSCOHost Academic Search Premier.

Meredith, L 2012, ‘4 Ways EyeEm Beats Instagram’, TechNewsDaily, 14 September, viewed 29 September 2012, <http://www.technewsdaily.com/4841-4-ways-eyeem-beats-instagram.html>.

Princeton Survey Research Associates International 2012, Photos and Videos as Social Currency Online, Pew Internet & American Life Project, Pew Research Center, Washington, D.C, viewed 1 October 2012, <http://www.pewinternet.org/~/media//Files/Reports/2012/PIP_OnlineLifeinPictures.pdf>.

Rosales, L 2012, ‘Facebook’s brilliance: Instagram is the kids’ next Facebook’, ­AGBeat, 1 July, viewed 1 October, <http://agbeat.com/real-estate-technology-new-media/facebooks-brilliance-instagram-kids-next-facebook/>.

Trewe, M 2012, ‘Instagram proves to be more of a community than an app’, AGBeat, 17 August, viewed 29 September 2012, <http://agbeat.com/real-estate-technology-new-media/instagram-proves-community-app/>.

Trent Klowss, 3756159

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