A lot has been said and written about social media, but if there is one thing that we cannot deny is how indispensable it has become in our lives. It effectively connects the largest democracy in the world – one picture, one story, one reel, one comment at a time.
Owned by Facebook, Instagram completes a decade since its launch in October 2010. Since then the platform has gone on to amass an active user base of 1 Billion users worldwide who upload 95 million photos and 250 million stories each day. To put things in perspective, 63% of all people connected to the internet have a registered Instagram account. More than half the population of the world wide web is now linked by a single upload button.
While Instagram started as a mere photo-sharing platform, it now not only understands the pulse of the audience, but also caters to their stories. And essentially, that is the best way I would explain Instagram – a platform that connects people through stories. You could look at the heartbreak of someone sitting hundreds of miles away and instantly understand what they are going through, someone's vacation has been saved to my bucket list collection several times and someone's random achievement has inspired so many people I know to achieve theirs.
Owned by Facebook, Instagram completes a decade since its launch in October 2010. Since then the platform has gone on to amass an active user base of 1 Billion users worldwide who upload 95 million photos and 250 million stories each day.
In my experience, I've seen Instagram become a mainstay in the entertainment world over the past decade, and that doesn't look to be changing anytime soon. More and more audiences are turning to the platform to hear about upcoming projects and to listen to other viewers' opinions. It helps greatly that most visual aids offer a two-way communication with fans and followers. How else can you connect one movie, one star, one story with millions of users at the same time and in a unique way? The platform has been instrumental in connecting celebrities with their fans. India has witnessed rampant celebrity culture since the beginning of time. With the advent of social media platforms, fans have had the chance to finally move on from a parasocial relationship with their idols to a relationship where they are acknowledged and given the opportunity to interact with their favourite celebrities. And being seen and heard, makes all the difference in the world.
Naturally, there is a darker side to the platform. The increase of reliability on the so-called 'Instagram Image' has resulted in a highly saturated and biased market that fosters insecurities and weighs investments onto people basis their follower counts and engagement rates. Today the rapport that the celebrities have with their fans on the platform goes on to dictate their casting in a big movie, box office opening, their popularity with brands and is even an important tool in managing their perception. The platform has inadvertently created a culture that nurtures the 'not so real' side of the world. From stressing about the number of likes on a post, dealing with high level anxiety due to pressure of constantly innovating with your content to verbal abuses and threats powered by the ever-increasing army of trolls, Instagram has become a riskier tool than it ought to be. Are there more cons to the platform? Sure, there are. But every good buffet has an item that does not make it to your plate.
With the advent of social media platforms, fans have had the chance to finally move on from a parasocial relationship with their idols to a relationship where they are acknowledged and given the opportunity to interact with their favourite celebrities.
If there are failures, there are also success stories that have changed the entire model of marketing in our country. Instagram has witnessed possibly the fastest growth when it comes to content creators and influencers across markets. Influencers on the platform are now not only empowered to dictate consumers choices but can make or break a brand in one go.
Let's also not forget how Instagram as a platform was instrumental in taking some key initiatives to counter the global pandemic. With the lockdown and a sense of impending doom, people in isolation inadvertently turned to social media for some sense of solace. In order to curb misinformation, Instagram's initiative to provide useful information from reliable resources of WHO and UNICEF was a commendable move. It encouraged celebrities to promote safe practices and give out public welfare messages like stay home, stay safe, or wear a mask, which gained great traction. The 'Stay Home' stickers rolled out during the lockdown was widely used and became fairly popular. The platform also went on to roll out the live donations feature where people could donate as well as raise funds for a charity.
Given the large user base and wide audience reach of the platform, Instagram has added great value through its tools, formats, and features in promoting movies and content in the lockdown. Fan meets, interviews, live sessions, even premieres have found their ground on the platform. Like we have grown up hearing, the show must go on and if we have stories to tell, we might as well say it in the best way possible. Happy 10 years Instagram!