Of the numerous social media platforms that the world has taken to, Instagram has possibly grown the fastest and also made the biggest impact in the shortest period of time. Designed exclusively for sharing photographs over smartphones, it has acquired an active base of over 400 million in just five years that it has been around. Among the more interesting demographics is that Instagram has emerged as the social media platform of choice by the under-25 generation, with more than 50% of its followers belonging to that young and vocal group.
Instagram Gives a Boost to the Travel Industry
Among the many sectors that have hugely benefited from the meteoric growth of Instagram are fashion and lifestyle, food, art, retail, science, etc. but by far the industry that has profited the most is travel and tourism. The reason why is obvious as the nature of the social media platform is photography-based and thus it lends itself greatly to showcasing travel destinations. Fans of popular holiday destinations have set up Instagram accounts that display photographs of the destinations in all their moods. Many travel and tourism businesses have also climbed aboard this bandwagon and are showcasing the destinations that they promote.
Realizing that professional photographers may only shoot the picture-perfect photographs, these travel businesses also actively encourage amateur photographers to follow their account and share photographs that they themselves have taken. The best advantage of encouraging photo sharing by followers is that the photographs tend to be more personal, candid, and realistic. This allows for a greater level of engagement with their audiences and serves to lock them in for future sales. A large number of destinations, including some of the lesser known ones have benefited greatly due the large number of Instagram likes garnered.
Holiday Photography Changed Forever
More than perhaps anything else, the change in how we capture the memory of our holidays is underlined by Instagram. Not so long ago holidaymakers used rudimentary cameras to shoot pictures on film that not only cost quite a lot to buy and process but the end result often took weeks to develop, and the quality was nothing to really get excited about. With smartphones incorporating very high quality cameras, it has made every mobile phone owner an amateur photographer par excellence and sharing it literally across the world too has never been easier.
While no doubt this has revolutionized the way we shoot our holiday snaps, the Guardian newspaper notes in a recent article that the surge of photo sharing on Instagram can lead to an obvious but quite unexpected result. A lot of Instagram followers are being flooded with images of picturesque locales and the initial wave of admiration and genuine liking is being replaced with a feeling of envy that in a number of cases is also leading to negative thinking, and depression. Common images that induce negativism include the hugely popular people relaxing on sun-drenched beaches under azure skies, shots taken from inside an airplane showing a magnificent sweep of the skyline, and the ubiquitous selfie taken before a notable landmark or monument in an exotic destination. All these tend to spell out that there are people enjoying themselves fully and some are most obviously not. Yet, the very fact that all of us are so familiar with these picture themes only serves to underline the cultural ubiquity of Instagram.
The Rate of Change in Social Media
Not only has Instagram become a significant part of our culture but what is even more amazing that it has reached the status it has in such a brief period. According to all estimates the rate of change experienced in contemporary society that can be attributed to social media sites like Instagram is exponential and that all indications point to it maintaining the same rate for quite some time in the future.
Marketers and social scientists need to appreciate that what has occurred with Instagram will happen with many other social media platforms that are continually springing up and attracting a huge following in a very short time. Thus their marketing efforts should not be limited to the current players but they should be alive to every emerging opportunity for digital access.
Author bio: Marjorie Brown is the chief of digital marketing of a leading travel and tour operator. She writes periodically on evolving techniques of improving the number of Instagram likes by account followers.
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