Humans love to take pictures. It helps us remember important moments, express ourselves and show others what is happening in our lives. With the rise of the internet, photo sharing has become easier and more popular than ever through media such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest.
Based on research with students, Professors Anne Oeldorf-Hirsch and S. Shyam Sundar say that photo sharing has become its own form of communication.
Oeldorf-Hirsch and Sundar wanted to explore the motivations of online photo sharing. “We aim to understand the conscious purposes (e.g., sharing an event), as well as latent purposes (e.g., building a stronger network) underlying the viewing and uploading of photos in online social networks.” The researchers used a two-step procedure to do this.
First, they conducted two focus groups with 22 graduate students. The participants discussed their motivation for photo sharing and their favorite websites to share photos. After analyzing the results, Hirsch and Sundar found 42 distinct motivations to share photos. These motivations include “staying connected” and “seeing what others are up to.”
Second, the researchers offered a questionnaire to 460 students about photo sharing. Each of the 42 motivations from the focus group were changed into a question for the questionnaire. The questions were grouped into three categories: “reasons for uploading photos,” “reasons for viewing photos” and “importance of site features.”
The results of the questionnaire showed four major motivations for sharing photos online: first, seeking and showcasing experiences; second, technological affordances; third, social connection; fourth, reaching out.
In conclusion, Hirsch and Sundar found that people mostly use photo sharing for social purposes. People also use photo sharing to communicate and build relationships. If a new social media website wants to become popular, it would need photo-sharing features. It would also need to be easy to use and have a lot of photo-related features.
To read the full text of this study: http://bit.ly/2xMZla9
Oeldorf-Hirsch, A., & Sundar, S. S. (2016). Social and Technological Motivations for Online Photo Sharing. Journal Of Broadcasting & Electronic Media, 60(4), 624-642.