Time to up your Insta game.
Shared under a Creative Commons licence, originally published on Futurity.
Although Instagram users have a variety of reasons for using the platform, the majority head to Instagram for social news and entertainment and are less likely to engage with political or controversial images, according to a new study.
The study also identifies several strategies for increasing engagement with audiences.
Although an average of 4.2 billion ‘likes’ occur on the popular media-sharing app Instagram every day, researchers are still trying to understand why certain types of content attract more engagement than others.
News organizations, in particular, are trying to determine what strategies work best for cutting through social media clutter to get the news out to their audiences.
“The reasons that users avoid political or controversial news photos are multifaceted,” says T.J. Thomson, a doctoral candidate in the School of Journalism at the University of Missouri.
“Some users say they felt bad about ‘liking’ a photo of a tragedy while others say they turn to other sources when they seek serious news stories. Many people view Instagram as an oasis where they can escape from the troubles and concerns of everyday life,” Thomson explains.
Thomson and Keith Greenwood, an associate professor of journalism, identified the following three user groups that emerged from the study’s sample:
While the majority of users in the groups preferred feature images to news images, the researchers found that news images can garner strong engagement if they are presented in ways both aesthetically pleasing and empowering.
“Most users in our study preferred simple, clean images,” Greenwood says.
“So news organizations might draw in more engagement from users if they post images that are representative of the story they’re telling, but are still friendly to the eye.”
Researchers determined other factors that might impact an image’s engagement:
“We suspect that because these familiar landmarks are often seen by these users and are shared in other media throughout the community, Instagram users are more drawn to photos that show a place they wouldn’t see every day,” Greenwood says.
“Photos of exotic, faraway places also reflect many positive characteristics that people relate to, such as beauty, adventure, and uniqueness.”
Cailin Riley-Missouri is a convergence media strategist at the University of Missouri-Columbia.