Characteristics of Digitalization: Instagram

Instagram has made major waves in the sea of social media. Instagram connects millions of user worldwide to connect with each other through the simple integration of visual communication and social interaction. Instagram is a mobile app that allows users to upload content and share their lives with the world through photos and videos. Users are able to access this application free and can choose from a variety of filters to customize images that capture the story of their lives. Instagram users and followers can simultaneously share their experiences in real time. Instagram users have access to a convenient way to instantly share a picture on Facebook or Twitter, all from one app.

In addition, users can scan a homepage of their followers’ recent posts, check a newsfeed for follower activity, comment or like pictures, as well as tag users in both comments and photos. 

Death of Distance and Instagram

Unlike the challenges we may have been faced with years ago the obstacle of distance has been overcome. This is because distance is no longer a limit of information exchange. We can easily use Instagram as an example of this.  On Instagram we can instantly upload photographs and videos to share publicly or privately.  These pictures are moments that we can upload for our family in other countries or a friends in a different cities.  In return they can upload family vacations, new job promotion or the birth of their first child. Our scope is now open to viewing different events from all over the world with a simple hashtag on a photo. Some popular hashtags like #Blacklivesmatter can connect and inform people around the world about various social issues. In addition, this can be used for branding and other ways of connecting with others.

Network Externalities and Instagram

Network Externalities are “when the value of a product to one user depends on how many other users there are”. Instagram is a prime example of this like a majority of social media apps that are defined by their popularity. If no one is actively using the application then it would lose the momentum it carried.   The success of Instagram heavily relies on the people using the app for as a method of communication. 

Digital Footprint and Instagram:

Digital Footprint is loosely defined as the trail of data you create while using the Internet.  Instagram, founded in 2010, derived its name from the combination of “instant camera” and “telegram.” The photo-sharing app found itself with 100 million uploaded photos by July 2011 and 10 million users in September of that same year.  Currently there are over 182 million Instagram users online and with over 18 billion photos being shared on Instagram. 

According to Instagram's own Terms of Use, you own your photos and videos. However, Instagram's privacy policy states,  "Once you have shared User Content or made it public, that User Content may be re-shared by others." Due to the nature and design of Instagram there is a digital footprint. Any content uploaded public or privately can be saved and share. Photos can be easily stored on computers, phones and also be saved as a screenshot. It is important to think about what you may post for the people to see.  Nonetheless, like many tools it can be used for good or bad. 


Poly-Directionality and Instagram

The power engine behind effective communication is the digitalization aspect which allows for communication to be  Poly-Directional. On Instagram you can switch in the way you communicate with your intended audience. You can swiftly go from individual to individual if communication on direct message or a comment. One to many would occur for a user like a celebrity  who has a large audience base. Many to many would be sharing a circulating post or page as a "repost." 

Instagram paints an awesome story by utilizing some key components of digitalization such as Network Externalities, Digital Footprint, Death of Distance and Poly-directionality. It is evident that there are innumerable characteristics that could be used to describe Instagram. We have covered a few components and I encourage others to find additional ones. 

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by marygitiha


Public - 7/13/16, 10:06 PM