June 30th is slowly being adapted as Social Media Day as proposed by Mashable last year so this was the second edition. Last year I talked about using social media for viral marketing and the success story of Tokyo Garden Party, a networking event on the rooftops of Tokyo’s buildings. This year I had the chance to talk about instagram and printo.jp at the Mashable Social Media Day Tokyo 2011 in Shikaku Cafe Ginza. Below is a summary of my speech about instagram. The part where I talk about printo.jp will be covered in another article later.
Johan Rooms talking about instagram and presenting printo.jp at Mashable Social Media Day Tokyo 2011 (photo by Diogo Hideo Dos Santos)
Instagram – Global Intimacy
Instagram is an iPhone application only launched last October but with already more than 5,000,000 users, most of them quite active and engaged. From personal experience I know that instagram touched so many hearts because it is: simple, beautiful, photo centric, emotional, intimate, global, social and with a good balance between all of those characteristics.
It is photo centric and not text driven like twitter. Most people will easily share a quick snapshot but will not have the energy to explain everything in text. Twitter is text foremost and then the picture is optional and hard to view. Flickr is photo centric but never understood mobile and social. Facebook knows social but photos are embedded too deep in their app, although this might change once they launch their own photo sharing service. I tried Path, but there again it took one click too many to see a picture in the feed. Picplz just didn’t feel right compared to instagram.
One key difference with all the other apps/services is also the emotional side. Instagram was only available on iPhones, not on the web. So every picture posted was posted by a human, on the road or comfortably at home. It was all very intimate and people were not afraid to post pictures of themselves without make-up as they knew their secret would be safe. This changed though once people developed web viewers like webstagram which made many instagram users delete their account or at least change their posting habbits. Twitter always has had this matter of fact telex text pushing and too many spam bots. Instagram seemed to attract more artsy types and regular non-tech people, a wider audience with a focus on aesthetics. The faux polaroid filters to tone your pictures were amplifying this emotional appeal, art historians would call it a romantic movement, as opposed to the matter-of-fact realism of services like twitter.
Limited Edition Poken Caps for Social Media Day Tokyo 2011
Instagram of course means something different to each individual but there seems to be a right and wrong way. Consensus is that instagram pictures should be taken with your iPhone camera, and not overly processed DSLR pictures, those are better shown off at a Flickr portfolio. Some professional photographers just post their best Nikon pictures in a desperate attempt to market their services. But that’s like showing off your Harley Davidson at a kids’ playground where everybody has tricycles and looks kind of pathetic.
So it’s not necessarily about having the best pictures, but about building a relationship with your audience and telling a story and hooking your own story into those of your followers. There is a lot of back and forth and it might not be visible or clear to the outsider. So those professional photographers might be better off taking behind-the-scenes snaps, showing some of their mistakes and humanity. Instagram is a safe environment where people can express their vulnerability and be supported by a community focusing on aesthetics. Instagram is global intimacy.
So let’s have a look at some people and how they used the medium:
@akiko22 explores wine and grape variations as a hobby and shares her recommendations
@bluefudge is a bar manager but enjoys spooning with her #spoony
@ikebana_jen and her tendency to go from colour to darkness
@tokomo daily pen drawings in Starbucks
@yawningsumo launched the hashtag #thisisjapan with many users contributing
@johanr publishing the first crowd-sourced instagram photo book as the pictures are selected by his followers, only the most popular 1080 (out of 2500+ total) photos appear in a photo book of which the content is not selected by the author
as more people start using instagram and other picture sharing services the need for grabbing the visuals and meta data will increase, but also the desire to re-arrange those pictures. Printo.jp helps users create Social Media Snapshots which they can share again on their social streams, download, send by email or have them printed to be able to hold that online experience in their hands.
© 2013 Johan Rooms