It is no doubt that Instagram has become a phenomenon in today’s social media world, but what differentiates it from other sites, like Facebook, which also use pictures to communicate to the world?
Instagram uses images (and short captions explaining these images) to generate communication between Instagram users. But, the difference between Instagram and other social media platforms is that the images, or moving images (video) are the ONLY available medium used to share.
- Using images as a way of sharing health related information often conveys more emotions than words. A picture is worth 1000 words after all?
For example, when learning about the Ebola Epidemic in a public health class, we found that video and pictures on social media platforms like Instagram produced the most emotional response from students. Pictures of ravaged villages or sick children, convey the urgency of developing an Ebola cure most poignantly. This can expand to most urgent public health crisis’ and is a great way to attract attention to the need for public aid.
- Pictures are great ways to start conversations
Pictures always seems to do a great job of generating conversations, especially controversial ones. Images are stimulating and help to engage users. Therefore a social media platform that uses visually enhancing platforms to attract users to health issues, is an effective method to entice social media users to pay attention to and actively involve themselves in health issues, and public health concerns.
- Instagram is used by powerful companies, health pundits, celebrities and lay people
With the decreasing cost of accessing the internet of mobile devices, all walks of life can access, and do access Instagram. Therefore the number of people who can potentially be exposed to an Instagram message at any given time is vast. This increases the power of the system, and intensifies the impact of any one image. Public health professionals should use this knowledge to leverage the power of connectivity that Instagram can provide. This is especially true considering brand engagement ranks highest among instagram when compared with any other type of social media.
- Instagram connects users with a double tap
To like an image post on Instagram, all a user has to do is give the image a double tap. The double tap then puts that users on a list for the poster and the other users to see who liked the same image. This inherently groups or associates individuals with similar interests, preferences or tastes. Additionally the physical engagement of double tapping the image to become a part of this list is a satisfying if not addicting act, proliferating the popularity of liking images throughout the site and increasing participation.
Shirky, C. Here Comes Everybody, Ch. 9-10.