INSTAGRAM INTERACTION- FINAL

In the digital era, audience studies are important in terms of space. This is because, along with seeing your audience as a market you are able to measure the dimensions of place between media and reality. I wished to further research this concept through the eyes of the Instagram square, I called this ‘Instagram Interaction’. Whereby I researched social marketing and construction whilst using my own experience with this platform as an example.

Instagram is a platform that keeps a portfolio of photo memories along with users’ tagged locations and a feed of continually streamed photos, thus being a perfect content analysis for research narratives and space over time. As mentioned in my first post, exploring the distortions and limitations of reality that images in the 612 x 612 pixels square can achieve would further my understanding of the relationship place has on audiences.

Essentially, these photographs sum up my project.

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To begin my research, I wanted to understand how the audience as a market, effects the space between reality and most Instagram posts. Instagram is said by Villegas (2015) to be a ‘social movement that will increase your customer base and your social media engagement.’ However, one of the main ideas addressed in Villegas’s blog post is that sponsored posts are a powerful tool for marketing. She states ‘sponsored posts on Instagram come across as organic and relevant’. The ‘comes across’ space between audience and reality or truth is what I explored in my research.

This idea allowed me to want to further understand the realistic aspect of place addressed in deGuzman and Crawford (2013) ‘I forgot my phone’.

In order to achieve this, I went a week without Instagram. As addressed in my second post, this was more difficult than expected. An attachment to instant gratification and social approval is something that was evident the more I limited myself. Exploring this place allowed me to understand the reality that Instagram is able to distort.

Coinciding with this, to explore the ‘comes across’ dimension I used content analysis on my own Instagram account. Using five of my previously posted photos, I critically analysed them in terms of ‘what Instagram sees’ (the distorted space) and ‘what Instagram doesn’t see’ (the reality). Exploring these photos in depth allowed me to understand the lies, edits and practical truths behind them.  In terms of the photo itself, researching the way we can distort the image gave me an understanding that the audience can see something entirely different. From a photography perspective Caruana and Fox (2012) explore dynamic bodies of work that bring new dimensions to images. Similarly, Instagram provides tools that contribute to the act of distortion, Hochman and Manovich (2013) call these ‘manipulation tools’. For example, cropping, straightening, captioning, filtering and adding a location all change the message communicated to your audience in which Instagram stores as a memory. Hochman and Manovich (2013) argue that ‘each filter evokes a different “feel’’ and that ‘while taking a photo of a specific time and place, we apply a filter to it to suggest a different time or atmosphere’. This is shown in the analysis of my own Instagram account, whereby certain atmospheres and times of day weren’t truthfully conveyed through the photoScreen Shot 2015-11-02 at 1.40.03 PMScreen Shot 2015-11-02 at 1.40.18 PM Screen Shot 2015-11-02 at 1.40.29 PM

With the emergence of the ‘attention based economy’ people have become more distracted than ever before. Therefore, we are living in a world where instant gratification defines our use of social media. Not being completely understanding of our distractedness in relation to the truth of an image could have negative effects on individuals. In terms of the distorted space versus reality, how does this affect the audience? Sunstrum (2015) argues that ‘because of this strict control of the way we are viewed, we are often fooled into believing other people’s lives are much better than our own.’ Overall, this can be seen as a problem in for the future of the structure of Instagram due to the negative implications for the audience arising when a dimension of an image is distorted.

Information about the research behind this project:

The form of research in which I carried out myself was a content analysis of my Instagram account. A qualitative form of research that allowed me to understand in greater detail the secondary research I had formed.  In order to convince media industries or stakeholder groups further research into the area of image distortion would help create an understanding of the truth about misrepresentation involved in the Instagram square.

How can these stories be used effectively?

From the research I have gathered above and the issues which have evolved from our addiction to social approval and image distortion I believe there needs to be a platform in which social media has no social status component, no likes and no editing tools. One of which people are able to express their own true lives with an inevitably raw feature. I believe this would be a great approach to assisting people in the natural aspect of social media. This is because we wouldn’t be able to see those with the most Instagram followers and base our opinions on the products they are promoting purely off their status. We would have to use our OWN minds, how scary.

References

Caruana, N. and Fox, A. (2012). Basics Creative Photography. 1000 Lausanne: Ava Publishing SA.

deGuzman, C. and Crawford, M. (2013). I forgot my phone. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OINa46HeWg8 [Accessed 2 Nov. 2015].

Hochman, N. and Manovich, L. (2013). Zooming into an Instagram City: Reading the local through social media. First Monday, 18(7).

Sunstrum, K. (2015). How Social Media Affects Our Self-Perception. [Blog] The world of Psychology. Available at: http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2014/03/14/how-social-media-affects-our-self-perception/ [Accessed 2 Nov. 2015].

Villegas, F. (2015). Ten Reasons to Adopt Instagram as a Marketing Tool. [online] LevelTen Dallas, TX. Available at: http://getlevelten.com/blog/felipa-villegas/ten-reasons-adopt-instagram-marketing-tool [Accessed 1 Nov. 2015].

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MEASURING THE SPACE BETWEEN INSTAGRAM AND REAL LIFE- PART TWO

As part of my final compilation post for BCM240 I decided to restrict myself from the use of social media (especially Instagram and Facebook).

This may be seen as an unambiguous way to finalise a research project, it will all become clearer in my concluding reflection post.

However, this mode of research is a big part of my study. As previously addressed in PART ONE of my research the ‘big social media players’ in my life are there as an effective way to boost my ego. In saying this, to round up my project ‘Instagram Interaction’ I wanted to draw myself away from the platform.

This may not seem like a large measure to take in terms of research, however when I checked the statistics of my social media use I was proven otherwise.  I have used an app called Followers+ which tells you the analytics of your Instagram account. I was very much surprised to see that I had uploaded 3.1 photos per week.

With this information I decided that I wanted to break from this idea of social approval and addiction to social media for at least one week to experience the space between Instagram and real life.

RESULTS

Every living day the moment I wake I turn to my charging Iphone, unlock it and begin checking every single social media account I have. Beginning with the most influential social media platform in my life, Instagram. Taking myself away from this luxury was seemingly difficult. Despite making sure I restricted myself from uploading posts, I still found myself wanting to scroll through the thousands and thousands of photos posted everyday.

The overall momentum was this anxious feeling of me wanting to continue to use the app whenever I was bored, alone or just plain had a moment to spare (how wasteful when you think about it ).

This mini research ties in with my project as it helped me understand ‘Instagram Interaction’ from the dimension of the audience or from those who perceive. I realise from this that I have an addiction to the luxury, successful and painted lives that people live in the small window that we see through the Instagram square.

What I mean by ‘the dimensions of the instagram square’…

The 612 by 612 pixels square that we all see everyday of our lives. What is the true meaning of this space and the limits of what we don’t see beyond the square?  

These are all examples of my own Instagram posts, they are here to support my argument of ‘Instagram Interaction’.

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  1. WHAT INSTAGRAM SEES: 

A perfectly (strategically) neat set out table of food, with the right amount of lighting.

WHAT INSTAGRAM DOESN’T SEE: 

The ‘holiday’ referred to in the caption was in fact one of the worst I’ve had. Terrible, terrible storms forced us to stay inside the whole time. Not to mention the lighting only looks good because there’s a filter making it brighter.

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(I am hesitant to categorise this photo with the rest as Italy truly is beautiful, however there really is more than meets the Instagram square)

2.  WHAT INSTAGRAM SEES: 

The most beautiful angle in Italy. Sitting in a gondola, lapping up the sun, whilst peering out at some of the oldest buildings in the city of Venice.

WHAT INSTAGRAM DOESN’T SEE: 

Weather 40+ degrees

Disgusting smell

Gross water

Packed and crowded streets

There is one thing to note that throughout this entire gondola ride, although looking back now is very much appreciated, was spent wishing we could get off because the sun and heat was overbearing. It was also cut short because of this.

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3. WHAT INSTAGRAM SEES: 

A seemingly candid photo that has my arm, a watermelon juice and my contiki booklet all sprawled out on a colourful sarong. So naturally beautiful, right?

WHAT INSTAGRAM DOESN’T SEE: 

Wrong. My watermelon juice went warm within minutes of being in the 37 degree heat. I was burnt within seconds. It was windy that day so when I lay down the sand whipped me and lastly I took over 20 photos all whilst trying to avoid other beach goers catching me out. I stayed for literally 5 minutes. Throw a filter over the top and all appears fine.

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4. WHAT INSTAGRAM SEES: 

Square aesthetics featuring my legs, so creative..

WHAT INSTAGRAM DOESN’T SEE: 

This was inside a dingy bar’s bathroom.

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5. WHAT INSTAGRAM SEES: 

Beautiful blue skies, nails elongating my fingers and a generic Voss bottle filled with fruit.

WHAT INSTAGRAM DOESN’T SEE: 

I was laying on my driveway between my cars, the nail that appears in the photo was the only one that looked this good, it was a hot day so the water went warm and by the time I got halfway through drinking it the fruit tasted horrible inside the bottle.

As you can see with the above examples the Instagram square can easily block the space between reality.