Instagram

instagram-logoInstagram is an online mobile photo-sharing, video-sharing, and social networking service that enables its users to take pictures and videos, and share them either publicly or privately on the app, as well as through a variety of other social networking platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Flickr. People can upload photos or videos to Instagram and share them with their followers or with a select group of friends. They can also view, comment and like posts shared by their friends on Instagram. Originally, a distinctive feature was that it confined photos to a square shape, similar to Kodak Instamatic and Polaroid images, in contrast to the 4:3 aspect ratio typically used by mobile device cameras. In August 2015, version 7.5 was released, allowing users to post photos captured in any aspect ratio. Users can also apply digital filters to their images.

Instagram was created by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, and launched in October 2010 and acquired by Facebook in April 2012 for approximately one billion dollars in cash and stock. By December 2010, Instagram had 1 million registered users. In June 2011, Instagram announced it had 5 million users, and it passed 10 million in September of the same year. In April 2012, it was announced that over 30 million accounts were set up on Instagram. In December 2014, Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom announced that Instagram has 300 million users accessing the site per month. Instagram announced that 100 million photographs had been uploaded to its service as of July 2011. This total reached 150 million in August 2011. By May 2012, 58 photographs were being uploaded and a new user was being gained each second. The total number of photographs uploaded had exceeded one billion.

While Instagram has a neutral gender-bias format, 68% of Instagram users are female while 32% are male. Instagram’s geographical use is shown to favor urban areas as 17% of US adults who live in urban areas use Instagram while only 11% of adults in suburban and rural areas do so. While Instagram may appear to be one of the most widely used sites for photo sharing, only 7% of daily photo uploads, among the top four photo-sharing platforms, come from Instagram. Instagram has been proven to attract the younger generation with 90% of the 150 million users under the age of 35. From June 2012 to June 2013, Instagram approximately doubled their number of users.

There are many features and tools that come with Instagram. Users can upload photographs and short videos, follow other users’ feeds and geotag images with longitude and latitude coordinates, or the name of a location.

The new explore tab was introduced in mid-2012 in which 21 photos are featured when a user clicks the tab second from the left on the bottom bar of the Instagram app. The photos must be of a public user whose profile is not set to private. This section of Instagram is where users can search for specific users or particular hashtags that interest them.

Instagram offers a number of photographic filters that users can apply to their images. The filters are:

  • Normal: No filter applied
  • 1977: The increased exposure with a red tint gives the photograph a rosy, brighter, faded look.
  • Amaro: Adds light to an image, with the focus on the center.
  • Brannan: Increases contrast and exposure and adds a metallic tint.
  • Earlybird: Gives photographs an older look with a sepia tint and warm temperature.
  • Hefe: Hight contrast and saturation, with a similar effect to Lo-Fi but not quite as dramatic.
  • Hudson: Creates an “icy” illusion with heightened shadows, cool tint and dodged center.
  • Inkwell: Direct shift to black and white – no extra editing.
  • Kelvin: Increases saturation and temperature to give it a radiant “glow”.
  • Lo-fi: Enriches color and adds strong shadows through the use of saturation and “warming” the temperature.
  • Mayfair: Applies a warm pink tone, subtle igniting to brighten the photograph center and a thin black border
  • Nashville: Warms the temperature, lowers contrast and increases exposure to give a light “pink” tint – making it feel “nostalgic”.
  • Rise: Adds a “glow” to the image, with softer lighting of the subject.
  • Sierra: Gives a faded, softer look.
  • Sutro: Burns photo edges, increases highlights and shadows dramatically with a focus on purple and brown colors.
  • Toaster: Ages the image by “burning” the center and adds a dramatic vignette.
  • Valencia: Fades the image by increasing exposure and warming the colors, to give it an antique feel
  • Walden: Increases exposure and adds a yellow tint.
  • Willow: A monochromatic filter with subtle purple tones and a translucent white border.
  • X-Pro II: Increases color vibrance with a golden tint, high contrast and slight vignette added to the edges.
  • Slumber: Desaturates the image as well as adds haze for a retro, dreamy look – with an emphasis on blacks and blues.
  • Cream: Adds a creamy look that both warms and cools the image.
  • Ludwig: A slight hint of desaturation that also enhances light.
  • Aden: This filter gives a blue/green natural look.
  • Perpetua: Adding a pastel look, this filter is ideal for portraits

Another feature, the Lux effect, allows you to quickly adjust the exposure and contrast through a simple 100-point slider. This editing tool allows you to control the brightness to the saturation levels of each photograph.

Initially a purely photo-sharing service, Instagram incorporated video sharing in June 2013, allowing its users to record and share videos lasting for up to 15 seconds. The addition was seen by some in the technology media as Facebook’s attempt at competing with Twitter’s Vine video-sharing application. In the early quarter of 2016, Instagram increased the 15 seconds limit on videos to 60 seconds.

On December 12, 2013 at the press event in New York, Instagram founder Kevin Systrom announced the introduction of private photo and video sharing feature called Instagram Direct. In September 2015, Instagram Direct received a major update, adding new features such as instant messaging, adding more than one user & sharing more than one photos in a single conversation, and sharing post & profiles from feeds directly to the user.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you have an Instagram account?
  2. If so, what kind of pictures do you post? Examples: cat pictures, selfies, inspirational quotes
  3. Were you shocked that more Instagram users are female than male?
  4. Do you have a favorite filter to use on pictures?
  5. What is your favorite feature or tool to use on Instagram?
  6. Do you have any favorite famous people that you follow on Instagram?
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Flickr

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Flickr was one of the first social networks to allow for the storing and sharing of digital images and videos. In 2004, it was founded by Caterina Fake and Stewart Butterfield as a startup project based in Vancouver. Although it began as a chat room with photo sharing capabilities, it was quickly acquired by Yahoo in 2005 for around $25 million and began its evolution. At the time it became a Yahoo project, the site had about 1 million loyal users, but has experienced exponential user growth and site adaptation since then. In 2006, the site increased its upload limit to 150MB and in 2009, it allowed for HD videos. But Flickr’s greatest growth came about in 2013 when a major website redesign allowed for up to 1 terabyte of free storage (equivalent to 62.5 iPhones with 16GB worth of storage) and added several other features such as a scrolling home page, infinite scrolling, and a new photo layout. In 2015, Yahoo overhauled the site by adding a revamped Camera Roll, a new way to upload photos, and heavily updated the app.

Today, there are 92 million users, worldwide. But only 16 million of these users are active monthly users, and statistics indicate that this number is decreasing.

 

What is so cool about Flickr? It has a plethora of practical features – many of which are currently going unnoticed. 1 TB of free storage, image recognition, geo-tagging, and online photo editing – just to name a few. Check out this brief review by PC Magazine to get a bit more insight into Flickr’s features :: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2324482,00.asp

Considering all of these features, who uses Flickr? Not as many as Yahoo would hope. In fact, the website appeals to a rather niche demographic – people who are really interested in photography and people who are looking for a great way to store lots of photos for free [often times these categories overlap].

 

Even though there aren’t all that many people actively using the site, can it still be used to market brands?

It depends on the brand. Flickr has the potential to be used as a marketing tool, especially when it is in the hands of a prominent organization. A good example of this is the White House, because it is able to document a few of the day to day elements, portraying them in a creative, story-telling manner. It also helps to have a team dedicated to taking photos. Take a look at the type of content posted by the White House :: https://www.flickr.com/photos/whitehouse

Here is another example of when marketing is done correctly by Elon Musk and his team at SpaceX. This was the most popular picture of 2014 :: https://www.flickr.com/photos/spacex/16661753958/

It may be difficult, however, for small businesses to promote themselves on the website, considering the types of photos that receive the most attention on Flickr involve an incredible amount of creativity and technical skill. It also helps if your brand is already well known. And even with an incredible advantage like that, it may still be difficult to truly build a following on the site. Let’s examine Monterey Bay Aquarium’s profile, an already rather prominent organization known for its beautiful aquarium and incorporation of sea otters into its exhibits. On Facebook, it has nearly 600,000 followers, whereas on Flickr it doesn’t even reach 150. Check out an example of a surprisingly unsuccessful account :: https://www.flickr.com/photos/montereybayaquarium

 

In conclusion, Flickr is a site you may want to check out, but its ability to promote your brand is negotiable.

 

Discussion Questions:

  • Have you ever used Flickr? [If yes, what for and how often? If no, why not?]
  • Do you think that having to set up a Yahoo account dissuades potential users?
  • What feature did you find the most appealing in the article by PC Magazine?
  • If you were in charge of Flickr, what feature would you add/subtract to draw more users to the site?
  • If you were in charge of a small business social media campaign, would you choose Flickr as a platform? Why or why not?

International Networks

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Aside from the Social Networks we all know and love today, there are many more out in the world that we have never encountered. There are numerous International Networks. Some Networks are very similar to the ones that we use today, but they’ve all got a little spin on them!

 

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Netlog has joined forces with Twoo.com, so if you want to explore, visit that address! To bring it into perspective, Netlog is a mixture of Tumblr and traditional blogs. The social forum began in 2009 as ASL, then became known as Netlog in 2006 (through a series of name changes). There are 94 Million registered users, and the website has 20+ languages to accommodate their users. The forum targets global Youth demographics, where they can have their own website, in which they share blogs, pictures, videos, and events that their friends can all see. Netlog is the #1 social media forum in Belgium, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Romania, and Turkey!

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Tuenti.com is the “Spanish version of Facebook”, in the sense that it’s based out of Spain and that’s were majority of their users reside. Tuenti began in 2006, but it didn’t kick start until 2009 and kept it’s popularity until 2012 (around the same time that Facebook took off). This is a private social media forum, in which you have to be invited to join by a person who already has a Tuenti account. It has up 54 Million users, and in 2014 it launched its forum in Chile and Ecuador, where they have had a positive response. Just like our Facebook, you can set up a profile, upload photos, link videos and connect, chat with friends, and even make events.

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StudiVZ.net is the social media forum that I found most interesting. This is a German based “early Facebook”. It was launched in October of 2005, but it’s had a steady decline since 2009. In 2010, it was calculated that there were an estimated of about 16 Million users, but in 2011, it showed that only 5.9 Million of the 16 Million registered users were actually active. It’s the biggest social media in Germany, and ranked in the Top 10 Social Medias in Switzerland and Austria. StudiVZ was created particularly for college students and university students in Europe. Like a cross between Tinder and Facebook, you can post your name, age, subjects you study, courses you’re taking, and groups you are a member of on StudiVZ.

 

  1. Which on of these I.N. do you find most interesting?
  2. If you had to join one, which one would it be? Why?
  3. You see a steady trend of decline in really any I.N. in the world outside of the U.S. Why do you think that is?
  4. Go to each of the sites. Don’t make a profile, but look at the sign in pages. Are there any similarities you see between them and the social medias you use? Any differences?

Google+

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Chances are, you probably have a Google+ profile whether or not you use it, or knew it even. The platform was launched in June 2011 as a social feature on Google but it has become much more. The original features included things like photo sharing and status updates. Sounds like Facebook, right? Think again. The main difference between this network and its social media precursors is that it gave users the option to post to all of their followers or to selective circles. These circles are basically groups based off of interest, and different types of relationships. For instance my profile might include groups like acquaintances, work, Ouachita Baptist University, EEE PC 13, high school friends or my OBU Social Media class. People can overlap, but the basic idea was that you could choose whom you were broadcasting each particular post to. Facebook now offers some similar features, but it works in a slightly different way. The platform also included private cloud-based photo albums instant messing, video chats called “hangouts” and events.

Within the first 2 weeks of the launch, Google+ reached 10 million users. By October 2011, the platform claimed to have reached 40 million users. However, there has been some debate to whether or not this information clearly depicts the true usage of the site. One report in 2012 showed that users spent 3.3 minutes on Google+ compared to a whopping 7.5 hours these same users spent on Facebook. Ars Technica, a technology news website explained that Google+ sign ups were “often just an incidental byproduct of signing up for other Google services.”

Even though it hasn’t reached usage levels as some of its competitors, the app definitely has some cool features that you just can’t get with other platforms. The coolest thing to me about this site is that it takes something you already use daily, Google, and creates a customized experience out of it. Even though it sounds creepy, it is true… Google knows what you look at, who you talk to, and what you are most interested in. They pull information from who you’ve emailed with, messaged, or have on contacts lists then you decide what group they fall into. It’s easy to customize and helps you stay organized.

This platform is particularly valuable for businesses and should be utilized. As communications professionals, it is increasingly important for us to know the cheapest and easiest ways to get reach your audience and build trust. This platform can do just that. Probably the most valuable feature is that, because it is from Google, effective use can increase your business’ SEO value. Check out this article by Business News Daily and see for yourself just how effective Google+ can be for a small business.

 

Discussion:

  1. Do you have a Google+ account? How often would you say you use it?
  2. Have you ever used any of its features? If so, which one did you find most useful?
  3. If you haven’t used Google+, what has held you back from doing so?
  4. Where do you see Google+ going in the future? Do you think it has a lasting power?
  5. What is one piece of advice in the Business News Daily article that you found particularly valuable or interesting?

 

Vine: Six-Second Snapshots

Vine is a video streaming app and website that allows users to create six-second-long videos that they can share and watch on repeat. Vine was created by Dom Hofmann, Rus Yusupov, and Colin Kroll in June 2012. It was bought the same year by Twitter for a reported $30 million before Twitter launched it to the world in 2013. It was launched as an iOS compatible app first and then six months later was also available for Android and then Windows users by the end of 2013.

Within April of 2013, Vine had become the most used video sharing app amongst all other video sharing apps. It became the most downloaded free app in the Apple Store of the year. It went viral and caught on with users that loved fast paced content.

In early 2015, Vine launched a kids version of the app that was designed with having child friendly content in mind. The app provides an automatic feed (swipe right for new content) with entertaining, “age appropriate” videos. It is currently only available on iOS devices, but is coming soon to Android.

What is it that is so appealing about vine? When it first came out, people were fascinated with the idea of a six-second long entertaining video that could be repeated over and over. The fad caught on so quickly and abundantly, Instagram decided to add videos to their list of content viewing features.

Many people got their claim to fame by becoming avid Vine creators. They were paid to sponsor products in their Vines and made a name for themselves. Most Viners focused on either comedy or music to promote themselves. Some of these famous Viners are people like Nash Grier, Cameron Dallas, Harry Styles (Yes, the One Directioner), Josh Peck (from Drake and Josh), Shawn Mendes, or Page Kennedy.

Vine most recently has been said to be on the decline in popularity ratings. As of December 2015, the platform had 200 million active users. Though that is a large number, they are currently losing members every year.

Social media analysts are saying that the reason Vine is not sticking around is because there has been a shift in what people are finding entertaining. Facebook videos, Instagram photos, and Tweets are taking the majority of millennials attention and they do not want to have to open yet another app.

Discussion:

  1. Do you have a Vine account? If you do, do you still use it regularly? What do you enjoy about it?
  2. Which Viners do or did you find entertaining when using Vine?
  3. Do you think the six-second limit is hindering the app’s potential for more content?
  4. Do you think Vine is on a major decline with millennials since its launch in 2012?
  5. If you do think it is on the decline, what do you think they could do to promote or revamp Vine?

YouTube- The World’s Most Popular Online Video Site

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YouTube is the world’s most popular online video site, with users watching 4 billion hours worth of video each month, and uploading 72 hours worth of video every minute.

Since its inception in 2005, YouTube has grown from a site devoted to amateur videos to one that distributes original content. It has also helped jump-start the careers of  artists such as Justin Bieber.

YouTube was founded by Chad Hurley, Steve Chen, and Jawed Karim, who were all early employees of PayPal. YouTube began when these PayPal employees started to create a video-sharing website on which users can upload, share, and view content. The Internet domain name http://www.youtube.com was activated on February 15, 2005.

During the summer of 2006, YouTube was one of the fastest growing sites on the Web,  uploading more than 65,000 new videos and delivering 100 million video views per day in the month of July. It was ranked the fifth most popular website, far out-pacing even MySpace’s rate of growth. The website averaged nearly 20 million visitors per month, where around 44% were female, 56% male, and the 12- to 17-year-old age group was dominant. 

On October 9, 2006, it was announced that the company would be purchased by Google for US $1.65 billion in stock. The purchase agreement between Google and YouTube came after YouTube presented three agreements with media companies in an attempt to escape the threat of copyright-infringement lawsuits. YouTube planned to continue operating independently, with its co-founders and 67 employees working within Google. The deal to acquire YouTube closed on November 13, and was, at the time, Google’s second largest acquisition.

YouTube launched its Partner Program to let people get paid for their viral content in May 2007. This was the first time YouTube made it possible for everyday people to turn their hobbies into a business. About a year later, the most successful users were earning six-figure incomes from YouTube, The New York Times reported in 2008.

In July 2007, YouTube teamed up with CNN to host the presidential debate for the 2008 election cycle. Seven out of the 16 presidential candidates announced their campaigns via YouTube. In July, YouTube and CNN hosted their first presidential debate, featuring citizen-submitted video questions. This was also the first time in presidential debate history where user-generated video drove the debate.

In January of 2009, YouTube started renting movies. YouTube’s entrance into Netflix and Apple’s turf marked the first time it became clear YouTube was trying to be more than just an amateur video-sharing site. It started with a few movies that did well at the Sundance Film Festival, and has since grown to offer movies from companies including Paramount, Disney, NBC/Universal, Sony, and Warner Brothers.

YouTube has only continued to grow in past years. Other social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter have started allowing more video content, but YouTube, the grandfather of the industry, isn’t worried about being pushed aside. In fact, YouTube’s head of content says that this is helpful to YouTube.

Discussion:

  1. Do you have a YouTube account? How often do you use it?
  2. What types of videos do you watch on YouTube?
  3. Have you ever posted any videos of your own on YouTube? If so, describe what kinds of videos they were.
  4. Have you ever rented a movie from YouTube? Do you think adding this feature was wise with the competition from sites like Netflix and Apple?
  5. With Facebook and Twitter beginning to produce more video content, do you think that this will cause the use of YouTube to decline? Why or why not?

 

Periscope: Live Streaming From Your Phone

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Periscope is a tool that allows users to live stream directly from their phones no matter where they are. Currently there is no desktop version and Periscope exists solely as an app for iPhone and Android users.

Periscope was developed by Kayvon Beykpour and Joe Bernstein. They came up with the idea when when Beykpour was traveling in Istanbul where protests broke out. Beykpour thought that Twitter was excellent for reading about what was happening, but that he wanted to see what was happening as well.

The company was started under the name “Bounty” in February of 2015. They raised $1.5 million from Founder Collective, Scott Belsky, Maveron, Google Ventures, Menlo Ventures, Bessemer, Stanford – StartX and Sam Shank in April of 2014. Twitter acquired the company in January of 2015 before the company launched. There it was renamed and modified to compete with a rival company called Meerkat.

Since its launch, Periscope has reached over 10 million accounts, was named Apple’s 2015 iPhone App of the Year and has been featured on “The Late Show with Steven Colbert.” Periscope can be described as a live streaming app.

It allows you to use your phone camera to live stream what you are doing or what you are seeing. People can tweet out a link to their live stream and viewers can tap on the picture they are seeing to award the streamer “hearts.” Viewers receive 500 hearts every time they log in. You can also comment on a stream you like. A lot of popular vloggers from YouTube use it to answer any questions that their fan base has. Before Periscope, streamers had to use a computer in order to live stream, but now it is completely doable only using your phone.

Since Periscope is still young, a lot of people still don’t know about it, and the statistics for its user base are constantly changing. A lot of young people, from what statistics show, don’t use or have never used Periscope. Older people, 25 to 30, use it to connect with content creators and ask them questions. Periscope is currently rising in usage, but it has yet to be determined if that user base will continue to expand, rather than plateau. Another problem is that people may not know what to stream about. Though it may be used occasionally to show people breaking news, like it was in the Mayweather vs. Pacquiao fight, it is often used by the quasi-famous for Q&A’s. One thing is certain, it is not used often for how Beykpour and Bernstein intended.

Questions:

  • Do you use Periscope?
  • Would you ever consider making a personal live stream?
  • If you don’t, what do you think would be the topic of your live stream?
  • Do you have any friends or family who use it?