Introduction of Instagram
The Internet was born in 1969 when humans first connected multiple computers in different regions. From this year on, Internet technology produced explosive development and went global. Today, Internet technology can connect any smart computer, smartphone or even smart wearable device in the world, forming a big network for the whole world. As more and more civilian devices become interconnected, network society becomes the largest and most convenient social platform. Among so many social apps, Instagram has become an important social platform with its unique features and target audience. This article will focus on hon Instagram has resulted in economic, social and cultural relationships changes by a margin.
History of Instagram
Instagram is a popular social platform among young people, it is owned by Facebook and created by Kevin System and Mike Krieger, who have both graduated from Stanford University, the iconic tech university of the Silicon Valley, and were part of the Mayfield Fellowship Program, ‘an academic organisation where the valley’s venture capitalists spot the future startup creators and help them with connections and advices.’ (Ignazio Mottola, 2016)
The software, Instagram is launched in October 2010. In the eight years of operation, the total number of Instagram users has exceeded 1 billion. Instagram is one of the fastest growing social networks. From the second quarter of 2013 to the second quarter of 2015, the proportion of people with 16 to 64 years old who have Instagram accounts increased from 14% to 22%, and the proportion of active users increased from 7% to 15%.In 2018, there are around 130,000 new registered users per week as well as around 3.6 million new photos being uploaded.
From the very beginning, Instagram was set to be a success story. ‘In fact, it had 1 million users just 2 months after its launch and it kept on growing ever since.’(Geoff Desreumaux, 2014)Discussing about the business model of Instagram, the keyword that should be mentioned is building a community. To build this society the first employee of Instagram is a community manager but not a programer. To build the community by gathering people with the same interest, users are allowed to add hashtags on their posts to help others to search and find it. Due to the gathering, people spontaneously held the Instameet and meet together in the real world. Meanwhile, Instagram itself also organised a lot of local meeting among different regions around the world such as ‘Photo contests, called the “Weekly Hashtag Project” which have a great success as being among the winners gives a huge visibility on the network.’(Ignazio Mottola, 2016)
Instagram was born By the way, perhaps coincidentally, in smartphone camera technology and screen technology boost up generation. However, it can be clearly seen that Instagram users need more than an online app to share photos.
Transformation of Economy
With the appearance of Instagram, users way of approaching daily economy transformed.
Instagram is a advertising platform
Firstly, as a social platform with a large user group, advertising has become an important source of interest for Instagram. ‘A unique characteristic of online shopping environments is that they allow vendors to create retail interfaces with highly interactive features.’(Gerald Häubl, Valerie Trifts, 2000) The number of consumers buying online and the amount being spent by online buyers has been on the rise; Forrester Research has estimated Internet sales in 2000 to be more than double that of 1999, $45 billion. (M. Wolfinbarger, M. C. Gilly, 2001) Instagram does this by inserting ads in the same format as the other poster images and the video list in the APP. The only difference is that there is an obvious sign at the bottom of the AD message. With the application of this method, users can be implicitly advertised. For Instagram itself, Meanwhile, for companies that use Instagram as an advertising platform. There is a growing interest rapidly marketers to use Instagram for advertising due to the large reach of this mobile platform worldwide, with 14 million users in the UK alone (Statista, 2016). It can be clearly seen that Instagram has played an important role in the success of the economic benefits of advertising, both by itself and other companies.
Instagram is a platform for online shopping
Secondly, with the open storage function of Instagram for every user’s account, Instagram makes commercial users evolve from indirect online commercial publicity to direct online store sales. Since Instagram is a social platform that already shares pictures or video is the focus, online merchants are also focusing on the appearance of the product. On the one hand, for merchants, Instagram’s built-in video and image editing capabilities can greatly beautify the product itself. Such features are a huge help to the product’s appeal to buyers. For users, the appearance of the product will be more intuitive to users. Video users can also learn directly how to use the product. This can become the user’s judgment of whether or not to buy the product.
On the other hand, since Instagram is only a social platform, it is only responsible for the promotion of online stores. There is no auditing standard for the quality of products in the online store. ‘While making purchase decisions, consumers are often unable to evaluate all available alternatives in great depth.’ (Gerald Häubl, Valerie Trifts, 2000) So there’s no regulation of product quality on Instagram. And the powerful image beautification feature supported by Instagram can also make users consume impulsively. What users see is the product after beautification forever. ‘Users are keen to maintain a positive online presence on Instagram and tend not to post negative information as the positive perception an individual creates is likely to generate more positive feedback from their followers.’ (Kutthakaphan & Chokesamritpol, 2013)
Lastly, there are also risks regarding to the security issue from economic prospective— ‘Risk perceptions regarding Internet privacy and security have been identified as issues for both new and experienced users of Internet technology.’ (Anthony D. Miyazaki, Ana Fernandaz, 2005). In this way, while conducting an online financial transaction, there is a higher level of financial risk. ‘Financial risk includes factors indicative of monetary costs that the online market participant may be exposed to as a result of opening a particular account and/or transacting business with a particular client. Monetary costs can be related to fines, forfeitures, costs to defend an adverse position, or other related potential sources of expense.’ (David Lawrence, Ajay Junnarkar, 2001)
Transformation of Society
Instagram is the fastest growing social network site globally… A survey of 239 college students revealed that the main reasons for Instagram use are “Surveillance/Knowledge about others,” “Documentation,” “Coolness,” and “Creativity.” …Another interesting finding shows that there is a positive relationship between high levels of social activity (traveling, going to sporting events, visiting friends, etc). (Pavica Sheldon, 2015)
Instagram help people to show themselves
As an online community, Instagram changed the way users construct a social relationship. Self-presentation is the way in which one chooses to present him/herself to others. In social media, it is a digitally constructed reality that usually highlights “social connectedness and treasured aspects of themselves” (Toma, 2013, p.201). When users sign up their own instagram account, they will be given with a profile page that allow them to edit the content and self-introduction in the way they like. Hashtags are also allowed to be inserted in to these contents to attract other users searching for the same content. The another function which is equally important is that, collecting more ‘likes’ can improve the rate of exposure of a post. Posters usually change or alter their posted photos ‘in order to garner more ‘likes’ from one’s peers and followers. ‘Likes’ are a concept designed specifically for the realm of social media, which allows a person to signal their approval in material posted to another individual’s social media portal.’ (Sarah Tyer, 2016). Meanwhile, the increasing number of likes a user gets is able to generate a sense of satisfaction for the poster. In this way, instagram is able to change the social expectation as well as have users’ passion of posting to be further boosted up. ‘Given these functions, we regard Instagram as a kind of social awareness stream’ (Naaman, Boase, and Lai 2010)
However, there are also disadvantages when netizens care too much of self-popularity. Social media are popular stages for self-expression, communication and self-promotion. Rather than facilitating online identity formation, they are sites of struggle between users, employers and platform owners to control online identities – a struggle played out at the level of the interface. (José van Dijck, 2013)
Instagram is designed to make users addicted
‘Social media is like buttons are being designed to make us cyberspace and emotional.’ (Jan Fox, 2018) The CEO of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, said. When every user is browsing the social networking platform, it’s not hard to find, It is hard to set a procreate a time frame to stop swiping. Today’s social networking platform “just like architectural and industrial design has certain patterns, so does behavioural design,” say brown. If you use the infinite scroll feature on social media- the brain doesn’t known when it should stop, and so it just keep going “(Jan Fox, 2018) with unlimited scrolling information, a lot of useful time for users is wasted. Although such behaviour stems from the user’s executive decision, the user’s addictive software design patterns have also been the driving force behind the phenomenon. Due to the waste of time, the chain reaction of lowering efficiency of either workers’ production or students’ learning. Meanwhile, the addiction of social network like Instagram also expand the gap among people. While people sitting together with their smartphone, it is easy for them to surfing on the internet and Immerse themselves in their world, rather than having face to face conversation. In other words, the popularity of social network weaken the connection among people.
Instagram is close related to our self-privacy
Since Instagram accounts contain a range of users’ personal information, information security has become an important issue in the social process. Due to Instagram’s capability to easily connect to other social accounts, users are able to easily find people whom they have a relationship with in the Instagram community. in answer to the question “What happens if I share my photo to another social network?”, Instagram (2014a) provides the following explanation:
‘If someone shares a photo or video to a social network (like Twitter, Facebook, Foursquare and so on) using Instagram, the image will be visible on that network and the permalink will be active. In other words, the photo will be publicly accessible by anyone who has access to its direct link/URL.’ (Highfield, Tim & Leaver, Tama, 2015)
Of course, “the vulnerability somehow depends on the user itself, whether they care about their information.”’ Nevertheless, unless users set privacy permissions on their accounts, the content posted by users on Instagram is also open to all other users. In this way users’ privacy is still at high risk of being violated.’ (Shuhaili Talib, Sitti Munirah, Abdul Razak, Akeem Olowolayemo, Melasari Salependi, Nur Fatihah Ahmad, Syakila Kunhamoo, Siti Khalijah Bani, 2014)
What’s more, when Instagram start providing paid services related to users’ money, users’ property privacy and financial account details have also been threatened to some extent.
In this essay, the illustration of the ownership, history of growth and the business modal of Instagram clearly showed that it is the fastest growing social media application. As a significant role played in the development of internet, it changes three different ways, as examples, that people related to in our daily life. From the perspective of economics, Instagram gives business companies a platform for advertising while giving users a platform for online shopping. On the other hand, from the perspective of impacts on society, Instagram gives opportunities to show themselves online. However, it may also cause addiction and harm people’s self-privacy. In the future, according to the trend, Instagram is going to make more progress on improving people’s daily life and affect different aspects of society sustainably.
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