Instagram and the tiny moments of our lives
[box title="Note"] This is an advance excerpt from The Social Media Side Door, my book about the ways social media has rewritten the rules of access and influence. Subscribe to receive more excerpts, tips, and side door strategies.[/box]
Memories replay before him All the tiny moments of his life Laying round in bed on a Saturday morning Two daughters and a wife Two daughters and a beautiful wife
-Drive-By Truckers, “Two Daughters and a Beautiful Wife”
[dropcap]W[/dropcap]hether Instagram is worth $1 billion (the sum, in cash and stock, paid by Facebook for the photo sharing service) isn’t for me to decide. But 30 million users worldwide have decided that it adds value to their lives, and I’m one of them. Plenty of photo-sharing apps exist, so why has Instagram struck such a chord?
The different profiles and activities that comprise our social presence create an image of who we are. They provide access to different areas of our lives—the areas we choose to share with the world. Most of this information is conveyed by what we write, what we share, and the photos we post.
Photography is a visceral medium, and we are visual creatures. Photos require little explanation or contemplation—they convey information with remarkable efficiency. The rise of social media has proven just how much about ourselves and our experiences we want to share, but perhaps more interestingly, it has shown us how much we care about other people’s lives. Some of this interest is affection; some of it is fascination; and some of it might even be schadenfreude (I can’t be alone in occasionally looking up the classmates that use to call me a nerd to see how miserable they are now). We like to share and consume the tiny moments of our lives, and Instagram’s filters and ease of use made this an even more rewarding experience than it already was. (Facebook’s success has a lot to do with our affinity for photos, but the unprocessed digital photos we encounter on Facebook aren’t usually very flattering or aesthetically pleasing).
Katie Couric’s use of Instagram is the perfect social side door story. A celebrity, an emerging social tool, and a level of intimacy that would have been hard to imagine a decade ago. Couric posts the tiny moments of her life. Some are happy moments: making goofy faces with Wendy Williams, a victory pose in the doorway of her new studio. Some are sad: a program from the funeral of her friend Charla Krupp. But they’re all tiny moments from the life of Katie Couric, and there’s something magical about them, which is why 11,248 people follow her. This number is just a fraction of the 416,252 Twitter followers Couric has gathered. Many of her photos have only a few comments, and some have none. If you wanted to say something to Katie Couric—and you wanted to make sure she reads it—which medium would you choose? Twitter, where she is mentioned more than 75 times a day, or Instagram, where the number is much, much smaller?
Some social side doors are wider than others. It’s all about context, saturation, and end goals.
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