Instagram is a very popular social media platform for taking and sharing photos and video. Launched in 2010, Instagram is available for iOS, Android and Windows mobile operating systems.
As a social media service, Instagram shares a lot of common features with other social media - these include the idea that you create an online profile to define who you are within the world of Instagram, and that you link with other people you know or with whom you share interests, by following their profiles and then interacting with them around the media that they share. These interactions include liking, commenting, responding and re-sharing media. Whereas some social media services try to include lots of different media (think Facebook where you can share text, links, photos, videos and more), Instagram is a prime example of a social media service that defines itself through doing one thing simply and well. In this case, we’re talking about image sharing. Instagram rose to popularity because of how easy it made it to take and share photos in a social media context. Another key aspect of Instagram’s success was the way it integrated filters into its photo app, giving users the ability to add different looks and styles to the photos they took.
Although Instagram has carved out a distinct image and place for itself in the world of social media, it also blurs some lines, as most social media do, in the way that it integrates with other services. Even when you use the Instagram app to take and share photos, you might be sharing these photos in your Twitter and Facebook feeds as well as in your Instagram feeds. Many social media experiences are designed to encourage this easy spreadability so that their content is reaching as many people as possible. This may appeal to the user who wants to share their content with all of their friends no matter which platforms they use to connect. But this also serves the social media company because it allows them to reach potential new users, and also often gives them access to more and more personal data about their current users. This data can then be a very powerful product to sell to advertisers eager to reach social media users. The commercial value of these services is clear in the way that corporate lines become even blurrier as bigger companies buy up smaller social media companies as they become successful. In this case, social media giant Facebook bought Instagram in 2012 for $1billion dollars according to Wikipedia.
Instagram also blurred lines amongst social media services when it expanded on its core offering of photo creation and added Instagram Video. This came shortly after the successful introduction of Vine and its short, looping videos designed to fit nicely in social media streams. So we see a lot of overlap and tug of war between and amongst the social media services. As a social media user, it behooves you to really think about the differences of these offerings and which will be the best tool for you to get your message across and connect with the people and institutions you want to connect with. Does a particular service work best for you because of its user base? Because of its creative features? Because of its privacy and technical flexibility? Or maybe just because its fun?
Keeping all of this in mind, lets take a look at the Instagram app and how you can use it to create and share photos and videos. Download Instagram for your device, setup an account, and follow along with the video below.