Instagram: The Gallery of Social Media
With more and more young people preferring their dose of online engagement through pictures and videos, it is no wonder that over 120,000 Fijians are on Instagram.
Instagram is one of the biggest active social media platforms on the internet today.
With over 1 billion monthly active users, Instagram is the third most popular social network following Facebook (over 2 billion monthly active users) and Youtube (1.9 billion monthly active users).
What distinguishes Instagram from other popular social media platforms is that photos and videos are the focus of the medium.
You upload a photo or video of say, your lunch, and it appears in the newsfeed of your followers who have the ability to interact, like and comment on your post creating social interactions.
Users gain social appraisal based on the content they post. The more you do this, the more you get validation feedback from your peers, encouraging you to post regularly.
The ease of use and simplicity, in terms of content, makes it especially popular amongst younger users with reports stating that 72 per cent of teen internet users around the world are on Instagram.
The presence of international celebrities on the platform, who find it an easy way to post updates and plug upcoming projects with attractive pictures and flashy visuals, furthers the appeal for youngsters.
Instagram For Business
Globally, thousands of professional organisations and businesses are now realising the importance of Instagram to boost brand presence and appeal.
Instagram allows them to connect with their followers in a hyper-visual medium and many tech-savvy organisations in Fiji are following suit.
This is also why Instagram is a great portfolio for artists.
Instagram is not just a place to post pictures of your lunch, it is, in fact, an ideal place for creatives to post content related to their working fields ranging from photography and painting to designers and makeup artists.
The visual emphasis of the platform makes it a great place to showcase such work since followers will see the image presented in a way that shows off their work.
This enables exposure to a wide audience, attracts new clients and increases general recognition.
Even museums and galleries are in the game with the Museum of Modern Art standing out as a prominent example.
Instagram is at its core, a photo and video sharing social network, with other features found in other social media platforms.
The app itself does not put restrictions on users, but the posts are often accompanied by a relevant caption and with popular hashtags which are used to help the post trend.
Hashtags are words or phrases preceded by a hash mark (#) that identify a keyword or topic of interest. This both enables indexing of the post for easier searching as well as bundling together topics. For example, the most frequently used hashtags in Fiji are #fiji and #islandlife.
These core features have been expanded over the years with now-standard features like instant messaging and the ability to include multiple images and photos in a single post.
The most recent addition was that of “Stories”, a feature that lets users post photos and videos that vanish after 24 hours.
Instagram was first released in 2010 and was fairly successful from the start, gaining over a million users within two months of launch.
In 2012 it was acquired by Facebook for $1 billion USD and remains the property of the social media giant to date.
The rise of the Instagram Influencer
With celebrities being popular on the site for obvious reasons, the converse is also true, with people gaining a degree of celebrity on the platform through popularity based on newsfeed virality.
Formerly unknown users who output a consistent stream of popular content often find themselves with the same level of notoriety as a movie star or singer (at least within the context of the platform).
These “Instagram influencers” as they have come to be known, often try to monetize this newfound celebrity by advertising and promoting brands and products on behalf of companies.
They often capitalize on what makes them unique and their appeal is usually to a niche audience. For many, this can be a fairly lucrative career.
As opposed to the high priced advertising done by a single celebrity in a campaign, companies often employ several influencers to target various groups.
However, Instagram has recently experimented with the idea of removing likes from posts which could have a dampening impact on these internet celebrities.
Instagram, Fiji and the future
As wireless networks around the world grow more powerful, and cheaper to operate, the primarily phone-centric app is gearing towards featuring video content more heavily. The increase in speed and affordability in transferring increasingly large volumes of data means videos are more accessible and likely to be favoured more as content by the users.
While Instagram users are already able to share 60-second videos, the company is looking at expanding its video features by introducing more robust editing tools within the app alongside the refinement of its already popular filters to provide more powerful special effects.
We currently have over 120,000 users in Fiji and this number is likely to increase when you take into account the usefulness of the platform for the tourism industry, with the visual aspect more effectively communicating the natural beauty and splendour of Fiji.
Whatever you use, in an ideal world social media can be used to give a voice and platform to everyone with a need to speak about the things that they care about.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then Instagram holds volumes.