Instagram Usage at MU- Attempting to Explain the Fascination Behind the Mobile Application
Research done by: Samantha R. Difranco, Rachel E. Michaels, Jordan P. Emmer, Eric M. Schmeisser, and Brittney R. Roberts
Opening my various social media apps, I notice everyone’s mother has taken over Facebook and Pinterest, while Twitter feed and Snapchat is dominated by brands, celebrities and those few funny ‘friend-of-a-friend’s’. So where did everyone go? I open my Instagram app and scroll through the photos. Selfie of my friend… Nike shoes… a birthday collage dedicated to someone I don’t know… tree branches. Wait, I stop. 386 likes. My brother’s girlfriend posted a photo of tree branches against a blue sky captioned with a cat emoji and 386 people liked it. This is incredible.
Instagram is a simple app with one main purpose; to share photos. It launched in 2010 and as of September 22nd, 2015, it has 400 million monthly active users (Instagram, 2015). The numbers make it clear that visuals are the future in social media. When students meet for the first time they don’t exchange phone numbers or names to find each other on Facebook anymore, but rather they exchange Instagram handles.
But, how does a photo of tree branches receive 386 likes? Everyday people, like you and me, have over 7,000 followers on the app and they post photos with hundreds to thousands of ‘likes’. It seemed to us, this is a trend in the younger generations, though we wanted to do some research ourselves because we are fascinated by this popularity of Instagram.
In order to explain the fascination behind Instagram we asked the following research questions:
RQ1: What types of pictures are being posted to Instagram by Mizzou Students?
RQ2:What are the attitudes and interests of Mizzou students using Instagram?
RQ3:What are the attitudes and interests of Mizzou students using Instagram?
To conduct our study, we surveyed 182 students at the University of Missouri using an online Qualtrics survey. Participants were all completely voluntary and were required to be a full-time undergraduate student, age 18-24, and currently attending the University of Missouri. Out of the 182 participants, 156 had Instagram. We administered our survey by posting it on MU related Facebook pages, such as MU Class of 2016 and MU Class of 2020, and by asking our peers to participate. This ensured that we got participants from each age group and class at MU. The survey was open for three weeks and two days.
We asked 21 quantitative, closed-ended questions about how often students posted to Instagram, what types of pictures they are posting and how often, and questions measuring the attitudes and interests of Instagram users at MU. We chose this method in order to get clear-cut and precise results and calculations. We also asked for each participant’s gender and student classification in order to cross-tabulate our findings and analyze the differences in ways that each class and gender uses Instagram.
In order to answer our research questions, we asked the following: What types of pictures do you post to Instagram and how often? How often do you post to Instagram? Do you care about how many likes you get? Is Instagram a big deal to you? Do you care about how many people follow you? Do you wish that you had more followers?.
We analyzed our data by using Qualtrics’ data analysis and drawing percentage amounts of the amount of people that had Instagram. We cross tabulated our results with the participants gender and student classification.
We believe the study worked because we were able to track Instagram usage habits of University of Missouri undergraduates. We were able to obtain a sample of 182 undergraduate students who had taken twelve or more credit hours at Mizzou in the current semester. We then did a cross tabulation between freshman and seniors and between genders.
For our first research question, “What types of pictures are being posted to Instagram by Mizzou students?”, we found most people post photos of friends, family, nature and MU-related activities. Of the respondents, 99% of females, 88% of males, 94% of freshmen, and 100% of seniors all said they post pictures of friends and family. 65% of all boys and 88% of seniors post pictures of nature. Lastly, 77% female, and 64% freshman posted pictures of MU.
Our second question asked, “What are the attitudes and interests of Mizzou students using Instagram?”. This question found that everyone cares about how many likes they receive. Both 69% of females and 69% of freshman say that they do care about how many likes they receive, while 40% of boys and 51% of seniors care.
Our third question asked, “How often do Mizzou students post to Instagram?”. The research question found that 52% of females post more than once a week to instagram while 43% of all freshman post more than once a week.
Instagram is a place for visual storytelling. It created a community for sharing images and a new way of expressing oneself through visual engagement. This generation has a lot to say about where they are, what they are doing, items they bought, and the friends that they have. After some time of posting images you create a visual storyboard of your life for the world to see. Instagram has made taking photos more enjoyable and memorable. Before I created an account, I actually hated taking pictures and being in them. However, now everybody, including myself, enjoys taking pictures, adding filters, posting it to Instagram, and seeing how many people ‘like’ your photos. If you have an Instagram account, odds are you have already checked it once or twice today. Due to this popularity we decided to look into the social media site and its usage between younger and older generations.
Using quantitative questions to get a clear understanding and precise results, our group, then looked to Qualtrics to aid in analyzing our data. We surveyed 182 full time Mizzou students ages 18-24 and only 26 did not have Instagram accounts. Females, as well as freshman, tend to use Instagram more when compared to males and seniors. Also, it is eminent that all participants care about how many ‘likes’ they receive on their pictures. Naturally, the things we love most are being posted to our social media community.
The world we live in is constantly evolving, and there are several forms of communication, some people would have never imagined. This information is crucial in understanding how college age students communicate today because it is part of our culture. Our results tell us that Instagram is important in everyday life for this generation. Students would like for other individuals to see what they consider important in their life, through a picture. The photos become objects of value, and students at MU are communicating with them. ‘Likes’ can bring attention and awareness to the daily activities of students and can even bring the community closer together. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but on Instagram that same picture is worth far more.