Information-seeking behavior of Instagram users
SP16: INFO-200 Sec 10 – Inf. Comm – Blog Post #3
Instagram Users (Instagrammers) are an active and varied community, though they skew to the younger side. Over half (55%) of all internet users in the 18-29 range are registered for the service, according to Pew Research. Still a large chunk, 28% of internet users in the 30-49 age range are signed up, 11% in the 50-64 range, and 4% of internet users 65+ are Instagrammers. More than half login to the free app on a daily basis. There is a large community of photographers and designers that share work and inspirations to the site and many other shared-interests communities who share snapshots of their daily lives.
Instagram itself exists at the very beginning of the lifecycle of information, as a primary source that happens right after an event. Instagram photos are immediate, superficial, and ephemeral in nature. The instant-ness or sharing a message, a photo usually accompanied by a caption is the main appeal. In fact, the name Instagram is a portmanteau of the word “instant” a reminder of various forms of instant photography and “telegram” which explains the messaging and personalized, intimate nature of Instagram. (Instagram.com)
The majority of users are non-corporate and use the platform for non-work purposes. Everyday Life Information Seeking (ELIS) in the context of small world can be applied to Instagrammers to understand the motives and intentions in how they approach information seeking. ELIS in the context of “small world”:
…refers to social environments where individuals live and work, bound together by shared interests and expectations, and often economic status and geographic proximity as well. In small-scale communities of these kinds, activities are routine and fairly predictable, and everyday information seeking and sharing are oriented by generally recognized norms and role expectations based on beliefs shared by members of the community.
There are many sub-communities on Instagram, and they are interconnected with lots of overlap. They seek and share based on interests or even geographic proximity. These shared interests can be found via hashtags, the keywords that are placed in the caption of each photo by the poster to convey additional meaning or search terms that link their photo to others in the same category. For example, a photo might be tagged #dachshundsofinstagram so that others may connect and view other photos of dachshunds. Beyond sharing an image of one’s dachshund, a user might ask for advice or answers from fellow dachshund owners. The dachshund owner community within Instsgrammers can find and answer this question by searching on the popular hashtags for dachshund owners. Shared interests can also be found with geolocations that are part of the metadata created at the time of posting. If someone posts a photo and located is at Griffith Park, they can then search other photos of Griffith Park and gather information about activities, attractions, and amenities of the park through the eyes of other IG users.
According to Mason & Robinson, emerging artists are similar to artists in general in the information seeking behaviors. The photographer, designers, and artists that use IG enjoy the serendipitous inspiration that may result from browsing IG, the social connectedness of searching the internet, as well as traditional sources and library materials. Browsing is done through one’s own friends list, or by searching on a hashtag under a photo to find similar or related content. This can be extrapolated to many of the sub-communities that browse Instagram on a daily basis and connect with users with shared interests and seek more information based on hashtags. More research in online communities and social media will be helpful in furthering my research.
Duggan, M. (2015). Mobile messaging and social media 2015. (Pew Research Center). Retrieved from Pew Research Center website: http://www.pewinternet.org/files/2015/08/Social-Media-Update-2015-FINAL2.pdf
Helen Mason, & Lyn Robinson. (2011). The information‐related behaviour of emerging artists and designers: Inspiration and guidance for new practitioners. Journal of Documentation, 67(1), 159–180. http://doi.org/10.1108/00220411111105498
Savolainen R. Everyday Life Information Seeking. In Encyclopedia of Library and Information Sciences, Third Edition. Taylor and Francis: New York, Published online: 09 Dec 2009; 1780-1789.