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Instagram Is a Worldwide Social Network

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Instagram Is a Worldwide Social Network essay

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Instagram is one of the most widely used smartphone applications not only in the countrybut around the world. It holds its place among Facebook, Twitter, and Google. It is a picturesharing and social network cell phone app for tablets and smartphones. Users of the applicationcan take pictures and use filters on those pictures to attain a certain look. Not only can users postand share photos but videos too. The videos can be as long as fifteen seconds. Pictures andvideos posted have the ability to be “like” and commented on by others. Instagram users alsohave the option to upload their pictures and videos unto different social media platforms likeTwitter and Facebook. The concept behind Instagram is pretty simple but is worth a billiondollars.This report will first describe the background, current, and future route of Instagram.Second, it will provide the demographics of the application. Third, it will give the reasons,objectives, and instructions of the app.

Lastly, it will discuss the theoretical relevance of thisparticular technology.Instagram would not exist today if it was not for Kevin Systrom, the app’s co-founder. Hewas a student at Stanford University when he came up with the basis of the application. It wasafter work that Systrom studied how to “code and build HyperText Markup Language (HTML).”With his knowledge of coding and building HTML that he created Burbn, an application thatwould precede Instagram. Burbn permitted users to sign in at places, arrange meetups, andgarner points by getting together with others using the application and sharing photos (Leonard,2012).When Systrom was at a gathering, he was introduced to financiers from BaselineVentures and Andreessen Horowitz which are venture capital investment firms. A couple ofRunning head: The Rise of Instagram 3weeks following the encounter with the financiers, Systrom was able to raise hundreds ofthousands of dollars for his application. Subsequently, another engineer by the name of MikeKrieger partnered with Systrom and they formed a group of engineers together (Leonard, 2012).

Both Systrom and Krieger came to the conclusion that in order to separate Burbn fromthe rest that the concentration of their application would have to be on doing one thingexcellently. That concentration would be Burbn’s mobile photograph feature. So they devotedtheir time creating an entirely new application. The emphasis of this new application was to takepictures. It was given the name Instagram, which is a blending of ‘instant’ and’telegram’ (Leonard, 2012).Unlike the vast majority of new applications out there, Instagram quickly rose topopularity. Once Instagram was beta-tested and repaired from a number of errors and glitches,the app made its technological debut on October 6, 2010. Shortly afterward thousands of peopledownloaded it. Before a week had passed, the app was downloaded more than a hundredthousand times. Only two months after their entry into the social media app industry, Instagramhad one million people actively using the app each month. Financial backers resumed to fundInstagram and by February 2011, the app was estimated to be worth twenty million dollars(Aslam, 2017).Just four years after the app was launch, Instagram was labeled the fastest growing socialmedia app. It beat out all the other social media apps. The number of people using Instagramincreased to about two hundred million in just four years. During that time billions of photoswere posted.

Fast-forward to 2017 when seven hundred million people actively use Instagram,Running head: The Rise of Instagram 4which is more than those using Twitter. During that time tens of billions of photos were posted(Aslam, 2017).From the time Instagram was launched, the social media app has received a lot of noticefrom various mass media channels. It did not take long for other companies to take interest inInstagram due to its immense popularity and profitability. It was then that Facebook, in 2012,would buy Instagram for a reported one billion dollars (Constine et al., 2012).Since being bought by Facebook, Instagram has gone through just a few changes in its format.The app introduced new attributes and features in the summer of 2014 (Hamburger,2014). Now users can alter pictures even more than before. The greatest feature change came thefollowing summer in 2015. It was publicized via Instagram’s blog that users of the applicationwould be able to upload and post pictures that were not in the shape of a square, which had beenthe format since the app’s inception (Hamburger, 2014).

The square shape format drove manyannoyed Instagram users to other applications.Not only did some of Instagram’s features change but so did its algorithm in early 2016.Facebook made the app’s algorithm for its feed similar to theirs. The algorithm of the feed wentfrom displaying pictures of other users in order based on time to positioning pictures who theuser would desire to see more based on the person or people they follow (Isaac, 2016).A scandal hit Instagram when the company displayed its new logo. The app’s famous old-fashioned camera logo was switched to a more brightly colored contemporary camera logo. Thereason for the change, according to an Instagram spokesperson, was to portray the diversity of itsusers and their stories (Titcomb, 2016). This change generated much criticism and disapproval.Needless to say, many users were not happy with the new logo.Running head: The Rise of Instagram 5Instagram has made its mark in the photography industry too. Since the app is photo-driven, it has further promoted the art and world of photography to many who were not exposedto it before. Even though there are those who view this exposure as a good thing, there areprofessional photographers who view it as a negative.

A number of them feel that the app has andis diluting the skill of picture taking (Bevan, 2012).Instagram is no stranger to criticism nor will the criticisms ever cease. The smartphoneapp has been criticized for adding new features and trying a new algorithm. It has also beencriticized for its logo change. Even professional photographers have expressed criticism for theapplication’s influence on the art form. However, there has been no stronger critics than thehealth industry.There have been studies done on the impact of Instagram on one’s self-perception andself-worth due to the fact that the app is driven by photos. One of these studies was done in theSpring of 2017 by the UK Royal Society of Public Health. They conducted a survey and namedit #StatusofMind. About one thousand five hundred were surveyed and the ages of thosesurveyed ranged from fourteen to twenty-four. It was determined “that of all social networkingapps, Instagram was the most detrimental for young people’s mental health” (Status of Mind:Social Media and Young People’s Mental Health and Wellbeing, 2017).

The survey conveyed that “Instagram negatively affected body image (especially amongyoung women) and sleep patterns and contributed to ‘fear of missing out,’ or FOMO.” MattKeracher, #StatusofMind report’s author, observed that “young women who use Instagram aremore driven to compare themselves against unrealistic, largely curated, filtered andPhotoshopped versions of reality’ (Status of Mind: Social Media and Young People’s MentalRunning head: The Rise of Instagram 6Health and Wellbeing, 2017). As a result of these findings, the report requested that social mediaoutlets label pictures that were modified digitally.Instagram does not have major competitors but rather minor competitors. Those trailingthe app include Snapchat and Periscope. Instagram was able to overcome them in 2016 andunfortunately for them, they are losing market share. Instagram’s base is so immense that no otherapp like it can compare.Instagram does not seem to be going anywhere for right now. With eight hundred millionusers and counting, they have shown to stay strong through the fast-changing landscape oftechnology these past eight years. However, things can change with this coming generation.Millennials may be using Instagram but for Generation Z it may be a different story.Truth is, it depends wholly on Instagram whether they want to continue into the future. In orderto stay relevant, Instagram will have to cater to their future users.

The app will have to try andtest new features and algorithms to keep users actively on it daily. Feedback from their users willhelp inform them what is working and what is not. In the meantime, Instagram has been doing agreat job keeping up with technological innovations.Social media can be used to segment the population. In the social media industry, theaudience demographics changes fairly frequently, thus making it difficult for social mediamarketers to implement strategies that will grasp a designated audience. Instagram has beencontested as one of the social media channels that continues to expand and change as the culturalclimate of their users shift. “Within a six-month period in 2016, Instagram grew its daily usercount by 100 million users. Now with more than 600 million active users on Instagram, it’s nowonder why the image and social sharing app can’t stay out of the news” (York, 2017).Running head: The Rise of Instagram 7Instagram has constantly attempted to understand and know its core demographics tohave the ability to approach the innovation of new additions to the application, such as it did withthe use of the algorithmically curated page of its Instagram stories in August of 2016.

With over500 million daily active users, 40 billion shared photos, 4.2 Instagram likes per day, and 95a million photos uploaded per day it is crucial to understand the composition of users thatcontribute to the $35 billion dollar social media platform.The women to men utilization ratio is fairly narrow. Women make up 36% of this socialmedia platform users and men makeup 26%. As the healthier trends transgress through societydue to individuals taking the initiative to be in charge of their own health, research has shown thecorrelation between Instagram usage and self-objectification in women between the ages of 18through 29. Due to the social media feature to enhance images through the use of filters, there isa promotion of what the ideal women should look like. “Fitspiration images (the term fitspirationis a combination of the words fitness and inspiration), which are images designed to motivatepeople to exercise and eat healthily” (Fardouly, Willburger, & Vartanian, 2018).

Young womenare the largest consumers of fitspiration images on Instagram due to their innate drive to comparethemselves to other women that they define using the ideology of beauty by social standards.This comparison allows them to determine their own physical progress if they are tryingto become physically fit and determining the level of physical attractiveness that they possess.40% of Instagram users are between the age of 30 to 49 years of age. Weight loss and relatedlifestyles are related to the use of themes, hashtags, images, and caption related content forwomen within this category. Women between the ages of 30 to 49 use Instagram to describe ahealthier and working hard lifestyle rather than probing sexier thinner bodies. It is typicallyRunning head: The Rise of Instagram 8implied that as women age, they should attempt to erase signs of this stage in their lives. Incongruence with societies cultural ideal for aging women, many of the women over 40 do notuse the word “aging”. Researchers have attempted to understand if it is plausible not toacknowledge their attention to their progression through a variety of decades. Within bothinstances, the 36% of women users, utilize Instagram to look up to others to gain inspirationthrough the use of what they define as being beautiful (i.e physical physique or fashion) anddescribe their healthier lifestyles as they begin to age.Age diversity fluctuates with the features and desired use needed for a given social mediaplatform. 59% of Instagram followers are between the age of 18-29 years old.

Individuals withinthis age group use this platform for their personal identity opposed to their relational identity.Many of the images posted are “selfies” to express their decisiveness from others for self-promotion reasons. 40% of users are aged 30 to 49 years old. This demographic group typicallyuses social media for as a source to get their news. 8% of users are over the age of 65. Many ofthese users use this platform to find out about new products. Those aged 65 to 74 are more likelyto research products after being a victim of Instagram promoted posts, thus Instagram’smarketing strategies are useful for this age group to get in tune with new products. User-generated purposes vary according to each individuals age bracket. Younger generations use thisplatform for socialization and to impose a particular social image through the use of hashtags,selfies and more. Older generations do not seek the same sorts of gratification through their useof the channel. Social media is used as a more culpable form to understand what is going on inthe world around them as traditional platforms become un-utilized.

Online shopping rates haverisen within today’s society thus many of the older users use this platform to make purchasesRunning head: The Rise of Instagram 9rather than for socialization purposes due to their lack of knowledge on how to use the platform,distrust of the privacy settings and more.The location of the users is important due to its ability to target its users based on theusers’ community demographics. 39% of users are located within urban communities, 28% arewithin suburban communities and 31% are within rural areas. In addition to the communities thatusers utilize this platform, income can be included within the reason for higher percentage ratesof Instagram users. 84% of individuals making less than $30,000 per year use Instagram and26% of users make over $75,000 per year. Combining both user location and incomedemographics can display patterns in their use of the platform. “For now we know those female millennials who make between $50,000 and $74,999 and live in urban areas are using the photo-sharing app more than any other Instagram demographic” (Parker, 2016).

Research does notprovide a causal relationship between money and higher Instagram use.Social integration has been suggested as a reason for many members from similarneighborhoods using Instagram. “Social integration involved having social support andmaintaining social connections with individuals from one’s neighborhood” (Snethen, Zook,2016). Members with higher economic standings use social media to build bonding capital thatcontributes to their emotional and social support. Thus members bond with other members oftheir community or to build their social network with other professionals. Those with a relativelylow income use Instagram for bridging capital. Members use this social media platform for asense of normalization. Everyone else within their community has access to it thus in order tointegrate into this society successfully they must display that they use this source as well. Lastly,there is an association with Instagram being a place to boast about one’s wealth respectivelyRunning head: The Rise of Instagram 10compared to other social media platforms.

Thus, this implication explains why those of highersocio-economic stance use this platform compared to Facebook which is commonly associatedwith those of the lower economic class.As technology progresses through the Digital Age, Instagram is slowly becoming a versatileplatform where the opportunities are endless for individuals at any age to market, share, anddesign their content. The popular social media application is changing the roles of tech, motives,goals, and societal norms worldwide.While the rising photo-sharing social networking service has received increasingattention from scholars and practitioners, little is known about the social and psychologicalfactors that lead consumers to become fanatics of this app (Lee et al., 2015). The journal articlePictures Speak Louder than Words: Motivations for Using Instagram, explores the underlyingpsychological and social motives for using Instagram through a comprehensive survey. Theresults of the study show that Instagram users have five primary motives: social interaction,archiving, self-expression, escapism, and peeking.

Furthermore, the findings reveal thatindividuals use the app to dispel their loneliness, seek out social relationships with users whoshare similar interests, and create a personal cyber documentary through digital media (Lee et al.,2015). With any given social media platform, escapism is a major motivation. Users want toescape from their real lives and engage with friends, family, and other people they have nevermet offline before. Through this particular channel, they are free to create a virtual life – anaspirational version of lives and relationships. However, the implications of this virtualfabrication can have negative consequences. For instance, one major goal of many Instagramusers is to gain a substantial amount of “likes” on their posts. Such “likes” validate theirRunning head: The Rise of Instagram 11popularity and status among their peers (Sheldon & Bryant, 2016). Thus, this inherent need tobelong and the need for self-presentation can negatively affect one’s self-esteem and self-worth.With that being said, Instagram caters to “emerging adults” who tend to explore self-identity by seeking continuous approval from peers during the process (Sheldon & Bryant,2016). Without the constant validation from peers, the app can create a toxic relationshipbetween the user and the application itself; thus, creating an obsession to escape, to interact, toseek out relationships, etc.

To continue, there are positive goals as well that are essential for Instagram users.Communication and maintaining/creating social relationships are just some major goals userswish to fulfill. Instagram can be seen as a form of nonverbal communication. Though on theexterior it may appear to be a novelty application: a fun way to put digital filters over photos andshare them with the world, but photography and other visual representations can be used as greattools for nonverbal communication (Instagram as a Form of Mass Nonverbal Communication,n.d). And more importantly, the infrastructure of Instagram allows this nonverbal communicationto be shared with a massive audience instantaneously. Moreover, Instagram is also slowlymoving away from a photo/video sharing site. Instead, it is making strides towards becoming anapplication that shrinks as well as connects the world together. Which is why maintaining andcreating social relationships is easy on this platform. Through the use of hashtags, stories,comments, likes, direct messages, and follow requests, people are connected in various differentways that barely involve heavy commitment or face-to-face communication. This is one of thevital reasons behind why the application is growing in popularity.

Social norms, practices, as well as rules have developed around this technology in severalways. Three social practices, in particular, include social reform, political reform, and marketing.Social practices have been a trend across all social media platforms, but Instagram is ultimatelythe most popular platform to share these trends. For instance, by publishing a photo of animportant social issue on Instagram, the issue is given immediate exposure and people beginforming opinions (Instagram as a Form of Mass Nonverbal Communication, n.d). People are ableto change their profile pictures, use certain filters that hold significant meaning, or startchallenges over this photo/video sharing app to send a message that could possibly trendglobally. One specific example of this is the ASL Challenge.

This challenge raised awareness forthe neurological disease as well as allowed individuals to start a worldwide movement.In today’s society, the Internet has become a driving force in politics. Politicians such asPresident Obama and Mitt Romney both used Instagram to communicate to potential voters intheir past elections (Instagram as a Form of Mass Nonverbal Communication, n.d). Instagramallows politicians and other public figures to share images of their campaign ideas; this providesa great way for politicians to combat negative campaigning by giving the public an insight ontheir personal lives (Instagram as a Form of Mass Nonverbal Communication, n.d). To continue,marketing is another popular social practice. A helpful feature on the application includes theoption of having personal accounts set as business profiles in order to promote a company ororganization. By having the option to switch from business to personal and vice versa givesInstagram the appeal of flexibility as well as versatility.Lastly, as this social media application rises in popularity, it also gives rise to a newculture.

The Instagram culture is constantly changing and is bound to have negative and positiveRunning head: The Rise of Instagram 13perceptions. However, there are certain unspoken rules that have developed around the culture.The first rule is posting a maximum of one picture/video per day, though exceptions are made formajor events such as graduations or weddings. In regards to this rule, studies find that Instagramusers massively share their photos and videos over two days: Saturday and Sunday (Araujo et al.,2014). It is inferred that users make extensive use of their smartphones to share interesting lifeevents, that are more likely to happen on these particular days. Also, posts are mainly sharedduring the afternoon and the evening, with the highest peaks at 21:00 (Araujo et al., 2014). Asecond rule involves over-editing pictures and how using more than one filter is sociallyunacceptable. Another Instagram etiquette no-no is posting more than one selfie. Takingnumerous “selfie” shots annoy followers or can cast an egotistic look on the user’s Instagramreputation. These are just a few rules that hold social stigma if broken. Overall, technologicaladvancements have led to different ways of sharing and reacting to life events. This newenvironment brings major shifts in social media culture, rules, norms, and societal practices thatimpact everyday life.Social media platforms such as Instagram can be utilized to push certain messages toyour followers. Often companies, businesses, and organizations will use their Instagram topromote themselves by consciously posting content to engage their target audience. This is anexample of Media Richness Theory and how it can be applied to Instagram. Instagram posts caninfluence customers’ perceived values, consequently contributing to customer loyalty (Chen2011).

The media richness of Instagram can be determined through the evaluation of fourelements: bandwidth, immediacy, language, and personal. Depending on the organization, thelanguage can be very natural, thus making the posts that the audiences receive a lot moreRunning head: The Rise of Instagram 14personal. When loyal customers follow an Instagram account associated with a company, they aremore likely to relate to the culture and feel a connection or relationship with that company. Thebandwidth and immediacy of Instagram allows an easy interaction between the customer and thecompany. Customers are able to comment and like the company’s Instagram posts and alsoparticipate in giveaways that companies often do.Additionally, the amount of social media influencers on Instagram has significantlyincreased once the capabilities of marketing opportunities grew as well. Many companies willutilize users with a significantly large amount of followers as a catalyst to promote their product orservice. This can include promotional codes given through the social media influencer or branddeals. By associating a social media influencer to a certain product or service, those followerswill feel a greater connection and personal association to it.

On the other hand, some research hasshown that while some brands benefit from utilizing influencers, sometimes cooperating withinfluencers with high numbers of followers might not be the best marketing choice for promotingdivergent products, as this decreases the brand’s perceived uniqueness and consequently brandattitudes (Chen 2017). This shows how much of an effect influencers have when they do not usetheir platforms correctly when they are representing a brand. Influencers and brands alike canbenefit from a mutual relationship if done correctly.Instagram can also be used as a form of mass communication. With Instagram’salgorithm and various functions, there are multiple opportunities for Instagram accounts tospread a message to a large population. Specifically, Instagram’s algorithm is a great example ofhow Agenda Setting Theory can affect the experience of an Instagram user. The Agenda SettingTheory states that media may not succeed in telling us what to think, but they can succeed inRunning head: The Rise of Instagram 15telling us what to think about.

Ever since Instagram switched to an algorithm model for its photostream, they placed more pressure on brands to create quality content if they want it to rise to thetop of followers’ news feeds (Milnes 2016). Because of this algorithm, brands are able to enter aniche audience based on their likes. One can relate Instagram’s algorithm to a “filter bubble”,and aiding to a confirmation bias because users will only see things of their interest. Forexample, if a user is following one brand in particular, another similar brand will show up ontheir explore feed based on their interests. Similar to other social media platforms, users’ feedsare constructed by common interest and similarities. If a user is liking photos of fitness accountsand healthy food recipes, then there feed will be filled with suggestions for similar posts andaccounts to follow. This is related to the Agenda Setting Theory because Instagram chooses whatusers will see when they are on the application. This is something that brands have been takingadvantage of in order to reach a greater audience. In addition to this, Instagram has also beenimplementing sponsored posts shown directly on users’ feeds. Users will often find a sponsoredpost on their feed based on their likes, recent shopping searches, applications, and movies.Similar issues of algorithms come with the problems that arise from having filter bubbleswithin Instagram.

These issues that are present on Instagram because of their algorithm include:confirmation bias, selective ignorance, and fragmentation vs. consensus. While there is some sortof personalization when using the Instagram application, the algorithm excels at making it seemlike there are no more real people on Instagram. In theory, everyone’s explore page (the screenthat it fills with content that it thinks you want to see) should look different based on whatcontent you like and respond to. Because of this, the experience will vary from person to person.Some feeds may be full of portrait photography, landscapes, and memes. The problem is that theRunning head: The Rise of Instagram 16overwhelming majority of the images it’s displaying are from sources with tens or hundreds ofthousands of followers. Information can easily be spread because of this algorithm, but users willonly be exposed to that of similar opinions. As discussed in class, diverse online networks aredependent on the diversity of social ties. While it is more difficult to customize this diversity,users who are aware of the problem will seek a solution to find exposure to more information.In conclusion, there will be plenty of negative and positive aspects with Instagram. Aslong as society is dependent on social media for new forms of communication, people’s attitudes,goals, and motives will adapt to the given media platform as well as the communication form.Furthermore, future implications regarding Instagram is unpredictable in a sense that as theworld becomes smaller and smaller, there’s no telling how societies and cultures will clashthrough the application. Ultimately, however, as the Digital Age progresses, it is vital tounderstand the effects social media may have on society as well as individuals.

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