Posts tagged Instagram
For such a seemingly minor detail, the Instagram hashtag is remarkably powerful. Anecdotally, the hashtag has long appeared to lead to a flood of “likes’ from fellow Instagram users. Now there’s data to prove it.
By analyzing over 1 million Instagram photos, self-described social media scientist Dan Zarrella found a strong correlation between hashtags and likes. The more you tag your photos, the more likely you are get a virtual hat tip from your fellow Instagrammers.
How Instagram Hashtags Work
As the contextual connective tissue that ties related images together, hashtags grease the wheels of photo discovery and get your pouty-faced mirror selfies and vintage-tinted lattes seen by more people. That exposure, in turn, results in more taps of the “like” button.
If you’ve ever taken the time to go back and tag your older photos, you’ve seen this in action: one after another, a parade of strangers will instantly start tapping the heart-shaped ‘like’ button under the image, sending a flood of virtual love your way.
Of course, the results will vary depending on which hashtags are used. Super-popular tags like #love, #me, #cute and #instagood are naturally going to lead to more exposure, simply by virtue of the fact that those tags are popping up all over Instagram and a higher volume of people will wind up tapping on them.
Driving Photo Discovery on Instagram
Along with geolocation tag pages, the pages for individual hashtags are one of the few areas of Instagram that let you break out of your own immediate network and peruse photos you wouldn’t otherwise see. When you add a given hashtag to your photo, the image winds up on that tag’s page, where it’s seen by hordes of new people. Since most tags are at least somewhat descriptive, the images one finds by tapping on them are more contextually relevant than, say, the tween selfies and cat pics found on the app’s Explore tab. That relevancy is what drives so many of those likes.
Of course, like everything on the Internet, Instagram hashtags can be gamed for self-promotional purposes. Tags like #followforfollow, #like4like and #followback are used quite frequently as a sort of logrolling currency. If you like my photo, I’ll like one of yours or better yet, I’ll follow you.
Tactics like this might seem a little slimy, but they’re incredibly effective, accordion Zarrella’s data. The 11 top tags that garner the most likes seek some kind of reciprocal behavior. Nature-related tags like #sky #clouds #sunset and #nature are also highly correlated with frequent taps of the “like” button.
- How To Get More Followers On Instagram
- Top 10 Most Popular Tags On Instagram
- When Is The Best Time To Post On Instagram?
- #Me: Instagram Narcissism And The Scourge Of The Selfie
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If you’ve got a lot of selfies, your tapping finger is in for a major workout. Today, Instagram pushed version 3.5 of its app to the iOS App Store and Google Play — and it’s a big one for brands and users alike.
Instagram 3.5 adds the ability to tag other Instagrammers in the photos you take. Unlike Facebook, where photo tagging has been routine for years, Instagram devotees have relied on a bare-bones system of @tags in the comments section below photos to give other users the heads-up that a given image is relevant to them.
I asked an Instagram rep if the new tagging feature is a play for making more money off mobile use — a revenue stream Facebook has square in its crosshairs. The company denies it: “At this time Instagram isn’t focused on monetization. [Instagram] rolled out this new feature because it was a missing piece to let people tell their stories… and to make it easier to add people and things to photos.”
According to Instagram’s business blog:
Photos of You also gives people a new way to explore photos of your business or brand. People can now add their favorite band to their concert photos from last night, the clothing brand they’re currently wearing or the coffee roaster who brews their morning cup of coffee. As a business or brand, Photos of You gives you a new way to curate and share the photos that best showcase your brand your brand[sic] as documented by your biggest fans.
Instagram’s Biggest Update In, Well, As Long As We Can Remember
Instagram hasn’t made many major overhauls to its winning formula since launching in October 2010. Over the course of the last year, the app has trickled in a few new photo filters, a map view and a web interface, but not too much has changed — even after the great Instagram ToS debacle of last December.
Considering the level of loyalty that the company enjoys — particularly when compared to peers like its oft-disdained parent company — not tinkering with its recipe is smart. But, happily, so is this update.
Since version 3.5 was a simultaneous launch across platforms, Android and iPhone users eager to get their tag on can download the new app now. Update 3.5 also boasts improvements to image quality for photos uploaded on Android 4.0 and above (a relief for any Instagrammers who wonder why those Android photos never look quite right).
Once you’ve got it downloaded, a pop-up will point to the new section, which lives on the far-right profile button (click the little image that looks like a driver’s license).
In the profile view, you’ll be greeted with a very Facebook-like silhouette of a person, again on the far right. This “photos of you” section compiles exactly that, though it will remain private until May 16 to give you time to pick your best selfie angles and curate accordingly.
Why Brands Should Be Taking Notes
While other recent feature tweaks haven’t shaken things up too much for Instagram, version 3.5 has all the trappings of a game-changer. Users will be pleased to have photos taken of them heaped into one neat little memory pile, while brands should be thrilled with their higher visibility on the young advertising platform. With photo tagging enabled, Instagram’s platform should provide some unique perspectives on brand reach and the demographics of who is engaging and why.
Plenty of brands have launched heavy-handed hashtag campaigns in an effort to figure out what makes Instagram users — ahem, potential customers — tick. Now, with the tagging feature, Instagram users will have a natural incentive to tag not just the “who”, but the “what” and “where,” too. Which should, in turn, spur more businesses to rev up their Instagramming.
But just remember, brands: Keep it real. An awkward hashtag is a fate worse than a grainy, Hefe-filtered selfie.
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Yesterday, Instagram Co-founder, Kevin Systrom, announced that the photo sharing app is now in the hands of 100 million active monthly users. The company has come a long way in a very short time. When Systrom and co-founder Mike Krieger started out with the idea, they were just two guys at rented desks in San Francisco. In [...]
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Well, that was fast. Almost a year after announcing that it had 27 million users, Instagram has surpassed the 100-million-user miletsone, according to the company’s blog. Over the last year, Instagram has continued to refine its already polished app, adding new filters and a Web feed for viewing photos in a browser rather than on a mobile device.
The service remains well-loved among existing users even as it chases new soon to be Insta-addicts. As much as its users have worried that Facebook will meddle with its photo-sharing darling, Instagram likely has Zuck and deep Facebook News Feed integration to thank for its threefold growth in the last year.
Instagram only seems to get better with age. Last December, Instagram successfully defused a minor revolt over changes to its terms of service, suggesting that even under the wing of Facebook, the company remains nimble and autonomous.
Image courtesy of Instagram.
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Well, that’s it folks. It’s all over. Instagram has come to the web – and not just via static web profiles like the company introduced last year.
No, Instagram is on the web now. It’s a full blown web-based social network with a companion app. Forgive me while I totally freak out for a minute over here.
This is what I’ve been afraid of.
For Instagram, The Rules Were Different
Instagram is special. It’s why we Instagram acolytes almost start a holy war every time Facebook so much as looks at its billion-dollar acquisition. But what makes Instagram so different? The app has a lot going for it, sure. The interface is lovely, with both social networking and social discovery built right in. But that’s not it.
The thing that makes Instagram special is that – until today – it was a social network with no web presence. There’s an inestimable charm to how Instagram feels walled-off in its mobile-only realm. You just don’t interact with Instagram on desktop. The rules are different. It’s like when the power goes out and you have to play board games. And it’s really, really fun.
Mobile-Only: The Final Frontier Of Play
Look at how (and why) we love to hate Facebook. As a social network, Facebook is woven into the fabric of our workday lives – namely we use it on on our desktop computers when we’re supposed to be doing something else entirely. That fact makes a site like Facebook feel less like play and more like a professional tic. A social network with a ubiquitous presence across platforms becomes something we shove into every micromoment of the workday – and most of those happen while we’re zoning out sitting at a desk.
Instagram wasn’t like that – it was serendipitous and social and creative in turns. But that may have all just changed. Now, in every inbox lull and pre-meeting chunk of lagtime, we’ll open a new tab and feel the tug – why not just check Instagram?
The Unbearable Lightness Of Instagram
There’s a heaviness to all of this attentional straying. It’s the dopamine surge that lures us back to places like the Facebook News Feed, even though we know that little pleasure spike in our brain is as empty as it is ephemeral. Then we’re back to the unshakeable guilt of what we were abandoned when we wandered off the trail.
Mobile is monomaniacal — even with Android’s multitasking and iOS’s relatively nascent notification center and fast app switching, we pick a portal and enter into it. But on a computer, we partition our screen off into hostile factions warring for our attention – and we never seem to be on the winning side. But on mobile, choosing to open Instagram is just that: a choice and not a tic.
Instagram is meant to be us at play, capturing the world and parceling it back out to our friends who are out there doing just the same. For Instagram, mobile is more than just a platform. It’s a mindset.
Sure, Instagram’s web feed will boost engagement and provide new opportunities for monetization and so on. But it could prove to be a major paradigm shift for the kind of unconditional positive regard that the company has enjoyed to date.
We’ll soon be wallowing in our newly compounded web ennui, scrolling back through our web feeds to remember what the good ol’ days were like, way back when Instagram was still fun.
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Those of us who use Instagram everyday like to think of it in glowing terms. Not only is it a rapidly-growing social media success story, but it’s a place where we can go to see gorgeous, often creatively composed imagery. Our friends are there, documenting their world for us and reliably tapping the Like button every time we share our own photos. It’s awesome.
That is, until you take a step back and look around
As it turns out, Instagram is a breeding ground for many people’s most narcissistic tendencies. It’s a reality that comes into sharp focus as soon as you step outside of your circle of friends and look at what everybody else is posting. Turns out that as a group, Instagrammers are a pretty self-absorbed bunch.
Sure, you might say, we knew this. Mirror-shot, pouty-faced self portraits of teenagers find their way to the “Popular” (now called “Explore”) tab as often as sunsets, celebs and food pics. But Instagram narcissism is more than a stereotype. There’s actually data to back it up.
90 Million Selfies… And Counting
Consider this: The third most frequently used hashtag on Instagram is #me. Under it, you’ll find more than 90 million self-portraits taken primarily by younger users, very few of them with any irony, or even much creativity.
Of course, there’s nothing inherently wrong with publishing self portraits. After all, your appearance is very significant part of the life you’re documenting using social services like Instagram. Taken tastefully and periodically, the “selfie” can add personality and context to oyur never-ending streams of lattes, power lines, cats and skylines. And sure, just like in the real world, everyone likes the ego boost we get from the compliments.
Scrolling through the #me photos, you see images of varying quality, all displaying faces of different people. In a way, it’s kind of fascinating to peruse. Here are all these people, broadcasting their own image to the world. In one photo, you’ll see an American kid with his collar popped and earbuds in, probably shirking some school-related responsibility. In the next, there’s a Saudi Arabian man dressed in a traditional gutra headdress, snapping a self-portrait in the mirror. Some people have new haircuts. Some have new babies. One guy has several large nuggets of marijuana.
Some of these images feel a little too intimate. As you scroll through, you start to get the feeling that you’re peeking through a window of a world you’re not quite supposed to have access to. But mobile and social technology have given us millions of little windows into the worlds of others, so we keep scrolling.
The stream exposes nothing explicit, but it’s peppered with what feels like far too many young, teenage girls laying in bed. Or 15-year-old boys standing shirtless in front of a mirror. Some of these kids are showing skin. Just about all of them – male and female alike – are seeking some kind of approval from their peers and the larger community, which thanks to the Internet, is now effectively infinite.
The Rise Of The Narcissistic Social Media Star
Some are getting the approval they’re seeking in a big way. Michael Saba is a 15-year-old from Boca Raton, Florida, whose Instagram photos often find their way to the app’s Explore tab among teen pop stars, professional athletes and professional photographers. But despite his 45,000 followers and hordes of teenage fans, Saba is not a celebrity. He is, as his Instagram profile says, “just a kid who takes pictures.”
Saba’s photo stream is comprised entirely of self-portraits, each one garnering between three and five thousand likes and hundreds of comments, mostly from adoring teenage girls who fawn over Saba with almost Bieber-esque intensity – and shower him in heart-shaped Emojis. The pictures are not particularly interesting or varied. It’s just him, in similar-looking outfits, day after day. Sometimes in the mirror, sometimes making well-rehearsed “cute” faces directly into his phone’s camera. Quite often, Saba poses with two other friends, also heartthrobs. Every photo is a massive hit. Meanwhile, he follows only one other user.
In our weird new world, it’s not uncommon for young people to achieve this new type of psuedo-fame, fueled solely by social media. And we’re not just talking the type of notoriety you can get from a viral YouTube video, which tends to require at least a sliver of talent, humor or skill. Instead, these kids are amassing huge followings just for being attractive. It’s like a high school popularity contest on digital steroids, but this homeroom has more than 45,000 kids in it.
Instagram And Self Image: Is The Impact Good Or Bad?
Is this necessarily a bad thing? One has to wonder what this kind of existence must do to the ego of a 15-year-old kid. Or the weird new social dynamics it could produce at school. But some psychologists think that the self-image boosts offered by social networks like Instagram could be a good thing.
It used to be that most of the photographs of other people we encountered were carefully crafted images of the flawless-looking individuals portrayed in popular media and advertising. Psychologists have long had concerns about the distorted effect that’s had on normal-looking people’s self images. Instagram and mobile photography more generally may be changing that.
“I like to think that Instagram offers a quiet resistance to the barrage of perfect images that we face each day,” writes Sarah J. Gervais in Psychology Today. “Rather than being bombarded with those creations… we can look through our Instagram feed and see images of real people – with beautiful diversity.”
Of course, as Gervais acknowledges, there hasn’t yet been much research into what sort of impact Instagram in particular is having on self image or anything else. Indeed, when I reached out to Microsoft’s Danah Boyd and several other academics who study social media and its affect on society, I wasn’t able to turn up much.
The psychological impact of technology more generally has been a popular topic for a few years now. Narcissistic personality disorder has been on the rise for 20 years, according to a paper coauthored by Dr. Larry Rosen, who also wrote a book called iDisorder: Understanding Our Obsession With Technology and Overcoming Its Hold On Us.
Some research suggests a correlation between social media and narcissism, but the condition’s increase long predates the rise of smartphones, says Jean Twenge, a researcher at San Diego State University who studies issues related to social media.
“It’s probably both that higher narcissism causes people to use social media in narcissistic ways, and that some social media causes higher narcissism,” says Twenge. “But it’s definitely a two-way street.”
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More brands are hopping in bed with Instagram and statistics show the relationship just might work. If your brand is buying Instagram shots for everyone, here’s how to track every move, filter, hashtag, keyword, Like, comment, and user.
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Nostalgia for Polaroid’s iconic instant photos may have very well sparked the photo sharing craze that brought us Instagram, and now things have come full circle – sort of. Polaroid plans to launch 10 retail stores in 2013 that exist with the sole intent of printing your Instagram photos for you. You can print any kind of digital photo in the stores, of course, but Polaroid is mostly angling to tap into the boundless enthusiasm of the Instagram crowd.
Polaroid’s (awkwardly-named) “Fotobars” will be manned by (yet-more-awkwardly-named) “Fototenders” who can presumably help you edit, crop, and tinker with your digital creations to your heart’s content. The stores look ripped right out of Apple’s retail playbook, right down to the sparse white countertops at the Genius Bar… er, Fotobar.
The catch? Unlike the camera that made Polaroid a household name, you won’t have your photos instantly – in fact, you’ll be waiting up to a few days. According to Polaroid, “All products created by consumers at Polaroid Fotobar retail stores… are handcrafted and shipped from the company’s state-of-the-art manufacturing facility within 72 hours.”
The Polaroid camera, invented by the company’s co-founder Edwin Land, first went on sale in 1948. He reportedly dreamt up the notion of an instant camera in 1944 after his daughter famously asked “Why can’t I see the picture now?” after her father snapped a portrait of the three-year-old with his twin lens Rolleiflex.
Our thoughts exactly.
Photo courtesy of Alexander Norman via Flickr
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