Instagram is one of the most popular media-sharing apps in the US, but most news organizations have had trouble finding a way to leverage the platform to drive news consumption.
One study from the University of Missouri found that although Instagram users have different purposes for using the platform, the majority are drawn to the app for social news and entertainment versus political or what they consider “controversial” images. The study was small, however — it included just 30 Instagram users who viewed 48 photos from a variety of sites including CNN, the New York Times, one local and one regional news outlet, as well as a few other entities.
Researcher Keith Greenwood said the participants chose their most and least liked photos, which enabled him and doctoral student T.J. Thomson to categorize users into three groups: Feature Lovers (13 total), Newshounds (8 total) and Optimists (9 total).
“The feature lovers liked faces and celebrities and they didn’t like political images,” Greenwood said. “Newshounds ‘liked’ images related to politics, global issues and tragedy. Optimists wanted visuals that were uplifting or funny.”
The study also identified strategies for increasing engagement with Instagram audiences. Social media producers should consider:
- People—the fewer the people in an image, the greater the likelihood that someone will comment on or like the photo. Moreover, posts with visible facial features are more likely to draw engagements.
- Watermarks—images with watermarks, or stamps, crediting the image creator were more unpopular than original content without markings.
- Landmarks—participants were less likely to engage with posts that featured recognizable local landmarks, in favor of images showcasing exotic, unfamiliar locales.
Greenwood said you can also get too “artsy” with your images.
“Images should be recognizable, people want literal on Instagram.”