In today’s digital society, there is an influx of social media sites being created every day which forces existing sites to be designed in a way that improves user functionality to survive amongst the millions of existing platforms. Popular social media sites are placing more of an emphasis on user experiences in order to meet the demands of Internet users today.
According to Jon Kolko in Design Thinking Comes of Age, the design of digital platforms are shifting from solely being aesthetically pleasing to having more of a focus on efficiency and functionality. Applying the principles of design to the way people work represents the shift in not only social media sites, but also content that users generate as well. Design changes make it easier for users to interact with other users. One increasingly popular social media site that has implemented major changes that go beyond its primary function is Instagram.
One key change to Instagram is the location search, which allows users to identify where videos and pictures are being taken. In addition to this, the “trending hashtags” item is a feature that immediately appears on the Explore page and allows users to browse trending topics in a robust matter and is tailored to user’s interests. The expansion of functions on Instagram has also allowed the social networking site to flourish and increase in popularity. In a recent study conducted by the Pew Research Center, researchers found that Instagram usage has doubled since 2012 and roughly 31% of Internet users use Instagram. These modifications have also contributed to the change in content that users upload. With the new location tagging and search function, users can now use the location-tagging feature to show where they are. More Instagram posts being created today revolve around places people are visiting. The hashtag and tagging feature also allows users to upload content focusing on their experiences with brands. Instagrammers are now tagging brands and companies in photos that feature products and allow users to interact with brands on a personal level. Because of the new type of content being uploaded on Instagram, there is now a shift in the culture of online brand interactions.
In Alone Together, Sherry Turkle talks about how technology has become the architect of our intimacies with brands, which enable them to come alive on the Internet and connect with consumers through computers and other digital platforms. With Instagram, brands are able to build and enhance intimate relationships with consumers in the digital world. With the tagging, hashtagging, and location features, brands can target and interact with relevant consumers in more meaningful ways. In fact, 40% of brands have adopted Instagram for marketing. Businesses are now utilizing Instagram to create digital strategies and display products, generate website leads, and increase brand awareness. Most importantly, businesses also are using Instagram to find and target audiences and build relationships with the location-tagging and hashtagging feature.
For example, one of my coworkers uploaded a picture of her daily coffee and tagged McDonalds in her post. McDonalds commented on her post thanking her for uploading a picture of their product and offered her a free coffee. This is an example of how brands now have access to posts and are able to see what consumers are posting about their brands and can therefore interact with users in meaningful ways. Overall, new digital features such as the ones on Instagram make it easier for brands to tailor their content to target their audiences and interact with them through personalized digital experiences.
Adriel, I. (2015, February). Business Benefits of Using Instagram. Academic Search Premier. Retrieved from http://login.ezproxy.lib.umn.edu/login?url=http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&AuthType=ip,uid&db=aph&AN=101722102&site=ehost-live
Duggan, M. (2015, August 19). Mobile Messaging and Social Media 2015. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/08/19/mobile-messaging-and-social-media-2015/
Honigman, B. (2013, January 29). The State of Instagram. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://corp.wishpond.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/Infographic_instagram_.png
Kolko, J. (2015, September). Design Thinking Comes With Age. Havard Business Review. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2015/09/design-thinking-comes-of-age
Turkle, S. (2011, January). Alone Together: Why we expect more from technology and less from each other. New York, NY. Basic Books.