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Instagram and Social Networks: Benefits for Users and Businesses.

Abstract

Web 2.0 has become the main interactive medium for users all over the world within the past few years. Many different platforms exist through this medium for users and creators to be able to connect with each other and social network. These platforms include social media and social networking sites such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. Through these platforms, individuals are able to converse and discuss many different topics. With the recent development of Social Networking Sites, Web 2.0 has become a powerful tool in societal changes. Other than this, these sites are also helping and transforming businesses in the way they advertise, and even recruit. This paper will focus on developments in Web 2.0, with Instagram as the main platform being used. It will discuss how this particular Social Networking/Media Site has become a key factor to recruiting in businesses, developing them, as well as how Instagram has now become an effective network growing medium.

The way in which we interact with and use the internet has changed, due to the recent developments in Web 2.0. With this, social media sites such as Instagram, Facebook and Twitter have become extremely popular amongst many individuals today. The gathering of individuals online helps create a feel of being a part of a community even though it is not physical. These communities include people from everywhere around the world with similar interests – and are all made through the design of Web 2.0 (Fuchs, 2010).Social media platforms are developing into a more important tool when it comes to business, e-commerce and economy in general. Porter (2015), mentions that social media sites such as Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and Skype have become a necessity for individuals and their everyday life. Not only this, social networking sites such as Instagram are now helping individuals grow their business’ through enabling marketing options/strategies on the platform and also helping small business’ recruit ambassadors for their company. This could be done due to Instagram first starting out as a platform where individuals could connect with each other. The development of advertisements, endorsements and influencers has changed the way in which this social networking site is now being used, helping small businesses grow within the online community.

Most could agree that well-known and popular social networking sites include Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn. Many will also say that social networking has become one of the main forms of communication amongst adults, young adults and even teenagers. This is because not only is social networking important for social interaction between individuals, but it has also become beneficial for businesses. Social networking has opened opportunities for business to grow and expand, through the ability of social interaction online. Websites such as these enable businesses to expand their connections through developing relationships with other companies within the same interests (Carey, 2013). Because the concept of social networking is extremely mobile and convenient, people are given the chance to connect from everywhere around the World. It also enables idea sharing, and feedback receiving. This means businesses could publish plans before making them come to life – without the risk of failure, due to the other people/companies’ feedback. For example, a company wanting to sell subscription boxes will first put out a survey for other people, potential customers, and companies to fill out – this will help them determine what products to include, and what will be profitable. In addition to this, social networking broadens the way in which companies could market their products. This paper will continue to explain how marketing on social networking sites could guarantee success for a business – following its online campaigns. Social networking continues to rapidly expand – due to the number of people and traffic that are constantly increasing on each of these sites mentioned (Bolotaeva & Cata, 2011). Businesses today are taking advantage of this fact. Some have even resulted to setting up their marketing purely through social networking, and nothing else.

Individuals are now able toconnect from anywhere, at any time, using almost any medium – due to the current and ongoing developments of Web 2.0.  Participation and online collaboration have become more accessible and are commonly used in today’s era. The invention of new online mediums and social networking sites have made this the case. Internet users who share a common interest tend to interact with each other – building an online community consisting of people interested in that particular topic. This common interest and knowledge are what drives users to create the many online communities there are today (Porter, 2015).  Internet and devices are also easily accessible due to the low costs that are available on the market today. Devices made in China, replicating expensive designs, are now more affordable than ever before. Not only this, but Wi-Fi and internet can also be easily accessed due to having more affordable options and being able to access it from almost anywhere now – for free. As a result of these changes, individuals and companies who run businesses take advantage of the low costs in marketing and production. “Instagram advertising costs depend on your bidding model, like cost-per-click (CPC) or cost-per-impressions (CPM). On average, companies pay $0.20 to $2 per click and $6.70 per 1000 impressions for Instagram ads” (WebFX, 2020). Although many businesses see the ongoing development of Web 2.0 as a positive medium to help their business grow, there are also many that still see it as risky and more ‘unprofessional’ than when using traditional marketing strategies. Because Instagram was always built for people to connect and share photos personally, marketing still has people talking, even critically – especially when it is paid and coming from an Instagram ‘influencer’ – an Instagram user with a larger following. Although this is the case, Web 2.0 inarguably has made it easier for small businesses to sell and market. Through this, individuals are motivated to create professional/’influencer’ profiles in order to gain attention and sponsorships from brands from all over the world.   

Instagram is one of the most powerful and influential social networking site there is on the market today. There are many individuals who have a following on this particular platform. This is what businesses are now actively seeking. Influencers list where they are based, how many likes they could accumulate for one post and where their target audiences are mainly located. This allows businesses to list their potential promoters, depending on their own target market. This promotes social networking between the business and their potential marketing ambassadors. “Social media has not only allowed the companies to interact with their customers, but also allowing the customer to interact with other customers. It is also used to convince customer that the company’s product or services are good” (Sook & Yazdanifard, 2014). Not only this, because Instagram is highly interactive and enables individuals to directly message one another, business owners and employees could also easily interact with each other, from anywhere, at any time. Because there are many different faces, aesthetics, and styles of influencers on the platform, businesses are able to pick and choose exactly who and what is right for their particular brand. An example for this is that if a company/brand sells clothing, they would want to choose a creative who shows their knowledge style in fashion. They may also go by how many people ask about their clothing options within each post. This will show the business an idea of interest coming from their target audience within the topic of the products they are selling. Influencers are also chosen according to their ‘followers’ to ‘likes’ ratio. An influencer who has a decent amount of following but many likes, has a bigger opportunity than ones who have a large following but no likes at all. Companies value engagement more than anything, because their goal is not for the influencer to gain followers, but for their product post to reach the most target audience. This is how companies could determine whether or not their candidate has enough engagement for their brand or not.  

Instagram enables users to follow and interact with other people using the platform. This includes, friends, family, and even strangers. When an Instagram user decides to follow someone, they are enabled to see who that person is following (including their followers) and vice versa, this then continues on to every person being followed. Business owners would usually like to see the type of people that follow a certain influencer on the platform probably due to the company having target audiences and seeing whether or not the ambassador will cater to and reach those certain markets. “To conduct successful social network marketing, it is important to first determine who are the target customers for that business” (Sook & Yazdanifard, 2014), meaning everything chosen by the business will need to reflect their target market – this includes ambassadors and influencers.  Brands are less likely to choose influencers who have a bad reputation online. Other than this, Instagram also suggest followers to every user according to who they follow and their connections. Although it may seem open and easy, Instagram does give account holders an option of becoming private. This means in order to follow them, a request must be sent and in turn, approved. Before the step of approval, this users’ posts will not be able to be seen by anyone but their followers. In most cases, businesses always look for profiles that are already public, as there is potential for their posts to reach more than just their followers. Instagram was always about connecting with one another and sharing special moments and photos, but now could be argued that marketing is taking over this particular platform.  

Instagram allows users to be completely creative with their ‘feed’. This is what other people see first from that individual. The feed may attract brands to ambassadors and Instagram influencers. Portraying another character, or simply altering one’s identity is quite common and normalised in social media, individuals usually do this to fit their audience or what they want to be perceived as online (Pearson, 2009). This is also what helps creators reach a larger following and total amount of likes. Through this, businesses are able to see which influencers engage most with their target audiences. It also depends on what they post. For instance, a gym influencer posting workout videos and meal plans will attract a target market for businesses selling anything to do with fitness. Other than this, individuals also strive to look their best on their feed, it is a form of self-representation – although this representation may not be the case when it comes to their real life. If an Instagram user wants to attract beauty companies to then be sponsored or recruited, they will post anything to do with beauty constructing an online footprint, that might not necessarily be true – but sometimes is. The way in which individuals attempt to change the way they look on social media by controlling what they post, write, create and show is known as “impression management” (Boyd, 2007). Usersare all given the opportunity to present their best selves. The better the representation, the more brands will want to work with them.Instagram also has a ‘bio’ feature, short for biography. Here, users could write a short description of themselves and what they do, and also link any websites or pages businesses may be interested in seeing. Blogs have a potential of attracting more businesses as it shows more of the individual rather than just simple photos. A combination of more than one Web 2.0 platform or tools are seen to be more effective when it comes to businesses looking for potential ambassadors and influencers. If an Instagram user has this, there is better potential for them being noticed and becoming an ambassador for several brands. Through doing this, influencers hope that businesses could have a better impression of them and potentially recruit them. 

Other than this, Instagram also gives people the option of turning their accounts into ‘business profile’s’. This automatically makes their profile open for the public to see and helps gain traction from brands who want to potentially work together with them. Through doing this, brands and businesses could be sure that the Instagram influencer is open to take paid opportunities and has classified themselves as a business. Although this is mainly the case, business profiles could also sometimes push brand deals away, as they, in some cases, tend to charge higher prices for every sponsored post. In addition to this, Instagram automatically owns anything an individual post on the site. This means brands/other people could easily save and share any image – all around the internet.

The recent developments of Web 2.0 and the changes within its platforms have changed the way in which individuals interact with each other, also within businesses. The internet now enables online communities to be formed and helps individuals with similar interests connect with one another. Social media platforms and networking sites such as Instagram has become an extremely powerful tool when bringing communities together, also within businesses. Web 2.0 has enabled access to these sites within any device, anywhere at any time. It has also created a world where online influencers could share their creativity – while also helping businesses during their recruiting processes. Influencers are able to do this through leaving a clean online footprint and making sure they have great self-representation on these Social Networking Sites. Through doing so, businesses are able to narrow down to who exactly reaches their target audiences, and which influencers they are willing to work with give the opportunities to. Instagram has now become an essential tool for individuals to connect with each other, build an online following and even for businesses to market and find potential ambassadors/employees.

References

Bolotaeva, V. & Cata, T. (2011). Journal of Internet Social Networking and Virtual Communities, IBIMA Publishing. Retrieved from http://www.ibimapublishing.com/journals/JISNVC/2011/409860/409860.pdf

Boyd, D. (2007). Why Youth Heart Social Network Sites: The Role of Networked Publics in Teenage Social Life. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Learning Youth, Identity, and Digital Media Volume. Retrieved from https://osf.io/22hq2/

Carey, D. (2013). “What Are the Advantages of Social Networking” Life 123. Retrieved from http://www.life123.com/parenting/tweens-teens/social-networking/advantages-of-social-networking.shtml

Fuchs, C. (2010). Social software and web 2.0: their sociological foundations and implications. Handbook of research on web 2.0, 3.0 and X.0: technologies, business, and social applications. Retrieved from http://fuchs.uti.at/wp-content/uploads/2009/12/Web2.pdf

Lim, Sook & Yazdanifard, Assc. Prof. Dr. Rashad. (2014). How Instagram can be used as a tool in social networking marketing. Retrieved from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/265377226_How_Instagram_can_be_used_as_a_tool_in_social_networking_marketing

How Much Does It Cost to Advertise on Instagram? WebFX. (2020). Retrieved from https://www.webfx.com/social-media/how-much-does-it-cost-to-advertise-on-instagram.html

Pearson, E. (2009). All the World Wide Web’s a stage: The performance of identity in online social networks. First Monday, 14(3), https://firstmonday.org/ojs/index.php/fm/article/download/2162/2127

Porter, C. E. (2015). Virtual communities and social networks. Communication and Technology. De Gruyter. Inc, Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/curtin/reader.action?docID=1759936

12 replies on “Instagram and Social Networks: Benefits for Users and Businesses.”

Hi Stefi,

Excellent topic and I enjoyed your paper, it was an interesting read. I think it is so true that social media sites such as Instagram are now helping individuals grow their business and how Instagram has played an important role for a business not only to promote their brand but at the same time having the ability to connect and communicate with their audience. I have friends who are unemployed and take the opportunity to start up a business using Instagram and she’s been doing great and her business is growing day by day. Also, I liked how you discussed Instagram influencers where I believe this is one of the techniques most businesses used to promote their brands in order to get a larger audience.

My paper focuses on the effect of Instagram on adolescent girls’ (age 13 to 18 years) social and emotional development (both positive and negative) – mine can be found it here: https://networkconference.netstudies.org/2020Curtin/2020/05/10/the-ups-and-downs-of-instagram-on-adolescent-girls-social-and-emotional-development/

Hi Kristina!

Thank you for contributing to and reading my paper. Yes! I completely agree with you and glad you understood that from reading my paper. Thank you for also mentioning your friend’s personal experience with the platform and how it is also helping her business grow. Just adds to the argument on my paper! Influencers are one of the trending topics on the platform as of today.

I’m glad you enjoyed my paper, looking forward to reading yours!
Stefi

Hi Stefi!

Your paper was an enjoyable read. I agree with your statement about major and minor businesses using Instagram to promote their brand and help firms to communicate with their targeted audiences. Your paper claims that Web 2.0 allowed businesses to move away from traditional methods of promoting to enhance their businesses and I also agree with this because social networking sites (Instagram and Facebook) constantly has brands looking for ambassadors within their targeted audiences and promoting their brands.

My paper discusses the development of online identities within communities such as Subtle Asian Traits and how users are able to develop more than one identity within the digital world. Here is the link to my paper: https://networkconference.netstudies.org/2020Curtin/2020/05/09/the-development-of-online-identities-in-digital-communities/

Hey Alisha!

Thank you for reading my paper. I based this paper on how I perceive Instagram and Web 2.0 – that it is currently being used as a platform to promote businesses and brands. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

Thank you for contributing and commenting on my paper! I’ve also left one on yours.

Best Regards,
Stefi

Hey Stefi,

Loved the points you made in your paper about Instagram. I work as a freelance Instagram manager, and I know how important it is for businesses to have these profiles on social media sites such as Instagram and Facebook. Marketing has changed so much since Web 2.0 and it continues to change heavily because of social media.

I like when you said “social networking sites such as Instagram are now helping individuals grow their business’ through enabling marketing options/strategies on the platform and also helping small business’ recruit ambassadors for their company” because you’re exactly right there.

Instagram is basically laying out the blueprints for businesses to be able to have a profile and promote themselves. Furthermore, the business account features give users the option to market themselves, and have access to statistics that can help improve their marketing strategies.

Really enjoyed this paper!
Be sure to check out my paper: Instagram encourages new communities and allows localised communities to extend beyond the constraints of time and space.

https://networkconference.netstudies.org/2020Curtin/2020/05/11/instagram-encourages-new-communities-and-allows-localised-communities-to-extend-beyond-the-constraints-of-time-and-space/#comment-1140

Honey

Hey Honey,

Thank you so much for commenting on and reading my paper!

Thank you for giving me insight also as a freelance Instagram manager. And I’m glad that you find my paper relevant to your current situation and how important these platforms and Web 2.0 are in growing a business.

So glad to see that you agree with the many points I’ve mentioned in my paper. I appreciate you commenting and giving insight from your perspective! I’ve also left a comment on yours.

Best regards,
Stefi

Hi Stefi,
This was an interesting read and I like how you discussed the role Instagram now serves in Marketing. It is fascinating to see how the introduction of Web 2.0 has changed the way businesses communicate and sell to audiences, and the role Instagram Influencers have in business today.
Instagram as a social networking platform really has opened the door for small businesses to grow and diversify their market, rather than just following the typical route for business marketing. I like the fact that you highlighted that followers can see who the user also follows and how this might impact businesses choosing to work with this influencer.
My paper highlights the role that Instagram and social platforms have to build identities online, and how these might be built unknowingly by what the user does and who they interact with. I think this links nicely with the business side of things too and how this can impact the influencers opportunities. If you’d like to ready my paper, you can find it here: https://networkconference.netstudies.org/2020Curtin/2020/05/11/identity-built-unknowingly-online-ambient-awareness-building-a-users-identity-from-online-social-communities/

Hi Bobbie-Jo!

Thank you for commenting on and reading my paper.
I agree with you that Instagram is definitely one of the more influential platforms when it comes to growing and diversifying markets for small businesses.

Thank you for linking your paper! Sounds interesting and looking forward to reading it!

Best regards,
Stefi

Hi Stefi,
I just finished reading your paper and have really enjoyed the argument you are portraying to your audience. A point that I think was really well demonstrated within your paper was the fact that within these social media platforms, interconnected networks are formed between followers and their followers and so on. Something that I like to highlight when discussing this situation is the fact that having these networks can have detrimental impacts on businesses as for one user to share a negative comment considering a business, these can easily spread to the vast social networks social media provides. Unfortunately, these negative comments do not have to even be true for them to be spread and many times this can largely affect the corporate reputation of businesses. Something I think that would have been interesting for you to evaluate on is the idea that there is a difference in relationships between customers and non-customers, and how non-customers are the target audience when considering the focus of advertisement on a specific user group. Overall, I think that you did a really good job in demonstrating your argument and enjoyed reading your paper. If you would like to read my paper here is the link to it https://networkconference.netstudies.org/2020Curtin/2020/05/10/the-facilitation-of-advertising-within-social-networks/#comment-1261. My paper is very similar to yours except I focus less on Web 2.0 and more on the marketing aspect of this topic.

Regards,
Amelia

Hi Amelia,

Thank you for leaving a comment. I’m glad that you found it enjoyable!

I appreciate that comment on interconnected networks! I made sure to include that point as Instagram is such a broad platform with many people from different cultures, races, and backgrounds potentially connected.

Thank you for that feedback! Now looking back on it, I agree that discussing more of the negative impacts would strengthen my argument. As well as discussing the relationships between customers and non-customers. I appreciate you giving this kind of feedback!

I’ve also left a comment on your paper! Great job on it.

Stefi

Hi there Stefi,

This was such an interesting read, and although this isn’t my chosen stream I found your paper incredibly enriching. As you have highlighted in your paper, it is stimulating to read how the emergence of social networking platforms such as Instagram have afforded users the possibility to develop and grow their businesses. I thoroughly enjoyed how you’ve stressed upon the fact that formal notions of “businesses” may not apply in the online world and that with the emergence of Instagram comes the emergence of “influencers” who don’t embody the traditional image of a business owner as what they are really selling is their “brand” and/ or “image”.

Within your paper you have stated that “individuals attempt to change the way they look on social media by controlling what they post, write, create and show”, I found this statement striking as it displays how platforms like Instagram support impression management and identity performances. I would love to know your thoughts on how platforms like Instagram and with that influencers are continuously ‘selling’ idealised beauty standards within their network communities, and if you believe that adds an increasing amount of pressure within their communities to conform.

Although our papers focus on different streams, I feel that they are both inextricably linked and if you’re interested in reading my take on how Instagram propagate ideal beauty standards through influencers and filters, feel free to check it out here: https://networkconference.netstudies.org/2020Curtin/2020/05/14/faking-faces-instagrams-role-in-propagating-unrealistic-beauty-standards/#comments

Warm regards,
Nur

Hello Stefi,
I really appreciate you choosing this excellent topic. Instagram does benefit an individual and a business. It is impressive how you have segregated the uses of Instagram for a normal person and a business. One can enjoy socializing on Instagram and spend hours on scrolling and having fun. Your paper also talks about how Instagram plays a major role in today’s marketing and how it helps businesses to grow and promote their brand by giving them insights on their advertisement. Great job.

I would like to invite you to read my paper which talks about Social Commerce being revolutionized by Instagram Marketing.

https://networkconference.netstudies.org/2020Curtin/2020/05/23/instagram-marketing-has-revolutionized-social-commerce-the-consumer-trust-and-the-role-of-influencers/

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