I was a late social media bloomer. I did not join Facebook until 2009, swearing it was a terrible idea for several years. It took me until 2012 to open an Instagram account, and I was not using Twitter until early last year. I will never forget eating dinner with several of my younger friends early last year. We were eating dinner and talking about social media when one said to me, “Facebook is dead. All the cool people use Instagram.” Immediately,I started using Instagram more. Who doesn’t want to be cool? I have to admit, before that time, I had only used Instagram for the filters. I would take a picture, edit using Instagram and delete it from the Instagram feed before anyone could see it. Instagram does have the best filters, after all.
Social or Content Community?
What started out as just another social media platform has quickly transformed into a powerful content community. What Will The Instagram Of The Future Look Like?, states, first and foremost, “Instagram is a social sharing app available across a multitude of devices.” You control your profile, whether it is public or private. You control who sees what you post based on the above choice. You can approve followers and select who you follow, as well. Instagram is social… to the fullest extent of the term.
Beyond that though, Instagram is also a content community. As with many social platforms, the way users interact with the site drives what that platform becomes. The article, mentioned above, goes on to state,
“An estimated 65% of leading brands have an account on the site, and 12% of Instagram users naturally share images as consumers of products or services per month. There’s a lot of scope for businesses. Some good examples of Instagram done right include Starbucks, who use the services to reach out to people with the good causes they support, as well as Red Bull, who intersperse contests with live action shots to really grab people’s attention. Unsurprisingly, it’s the brands with unique, or creative angles with a level of user-generated content that tend to be the most successful.”
Features / Abilities / Types of Content
What Will The Instagram Of The Future Look Like? explains the features of Instagram,
“Users can quickly and easily take and upload images, choosing to apply filters where required in order to change the look and feel of the same picture. For example, users can choose to change the brightness, warmth and saturation, rotate the image or even make it black and white. Since its launch in 2010, it has grown substantially – there are now an estimated 200 million users, a figure which has grown almost 25% since 2013. That same year, in June 2013, Instagram launched a video platform to successfully rival Vine. Its 15 second video capability to Vine’s 6 seconds has really taken off.”
Hashtags make an Instagram post searchable. By including relevant tags, you can dramatically increase the amount of users that see any given post. This can also increase your followers. Hashtags, “allow people outside of your direct networks to comment and like your pictures, and easily find them.” This is what creates the content community.
Brands have the ability to reach and engage with consumers building their brand image and message. As with everything else, the money is in advertising. “Speculation had implied that by using the ‘explore’ function, which currently highlights popular images or accounts, brands could sponsor a prime position in this section of their target customers, much like on Twitter for sponsored posts… Instagram says, “Our aim is to make any advertisements you see feel as natural to Instagram as the photos and videos many of you already enjoy from your favorite brands.” Companies will be able to use Instagram as part of their marketing mix, placing their message in front of millions of Instagram users.
As for the type of content available on Instagram the only limits are your imagination. You can search for almost anything and the results will start to pile up. Puppies? Yoga? Gluten Free Food? Brazilian Waxes? Name your pleasure.
For businesses, 5 Best Types of Instagram Photos to Drive Engagement, describes the top types of content as customer-centric photos, employee-centric photos, Instagram contest photos, product-centric photos, and blogger-centric photos.
“Instagram focuses on the here and now- what’s hot at the moment, what’s going on at the moment and what will be happening in a few minutes from now.”
Example of Content Community in Action
An example of a community based on content can be seen with the #NoMakeUpSelfie. In 2014, a campaign was started by an unknown person, and people were encouraged to post a picture of themselves with no make-up on, and then make a donation to Cancer Research. Read more here. As of today, there are 198,519 posts.