Convergence is explained as “the merging of various forms of electronic technology, for example data processing and word processing converging into information processing.” (World English Dictionary, 2009) Convergence has affected Instagram’s performance and why and how the audiences are using it. It has affected the relationship between the audiences as a user and the app itself in both positive and negative way.
“Media convergence is an ongoing process, occurring at various intersections of media technologies, industries, content and audiences; it’s not an end state.” (Jenkins H, 2001) The establishment of the photo-sharing app, Instagram launched in 2010, has captured the eyes and heart of 75 million people today that uses it on a daily basis. Convergence affected relationships between Instagram and its audiences in many distinctive ways. Convergence generated creativity in the audiences by its ultimate function, snapping and uploading pictures. Clearly, creativity isn’t just by snapping and uploading the pictures on it, it’s the process of editing before uploading it to your Instagram that creates this strong connection between the user and the app. Editing such as adding filters, altering its brightness and putting a frame can intensify and appeal the picture than the original picture. Instagram has introduced features to do so with multiple of exquisite editing functions that allow the users to play with and choose the filter that brings out the best of the picture before being posted.
“I realised what Instagram was all about. It’s not just about photos, but also the interaction. It really is all about being inspired, building connections and interacting with really talented people from around the world.” (Dougherty, 2014) According to an article, interaction through Instagram has also allowed relationships to be built within the audience and the app itself. The interaction of people across the world through dropping positive comments or clicking “like” on the work of others developed new healthy relationships with followers on Instagram. Dougherty (2014) also mentioned that it makes someone feel amazing when people like your photo or leave a welcoming comment on it. These actions create a sense of belonging within the user as Instagram has developed into a platform where users are able to express and share their work and being acknowledge by other users or followers.
Convergence and the interaction on Instagram doesn’t just layoff here. Jenkins H (2006) affirms that, “Its to be conformed by the desires of media pool to expand their empires across multiple platforms and by the desires of consumers to have the media they want where they want it, when they want it, and in the format they want.” On Instagram, users are given an option to share their “art” or “work” onto mixture of different social media websites such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr and Foursquare. (Muchmore & Eddy, 2014) This allows further interaction, outside of Instagram between the user and their associates or friends. The sharing options further increases the spreading of information from the user to the public and potentially creates a relationship with the user as the user now priorities Instagram as the fundamental photo-distribution app where even Facebook or Twitter are unable to do so. This shows a shaping of participatory culture by social involvement and synergy. (Larabie C,2011)
Proliferation and diversity of the media technology also influences the relationship with its audiences. “Today, technological changes are compelling media industries to think differently about their audiences, undermining traditional conceptual and analytical approaches while at the same time opening up alternative approaches.” (Napoli P.M, 2010) As Napoli said, technological changes drives media industries to consider all types of favourable requirements that satisfy the audiences. This causes Instagram to analyse and ratify the best functions to appease the ever-changing and diversified audiences’ desires. These are the reason why Instagram is always updating to a newer version, could be an update in the filters variation or even a faster downloading speed. For example, the relatively new added feature on Instagram is the Instagram Video function where users are able to upload a video between 3 to 15 seconds long is one of the best example of a converged feature into Instagram as a successful photo-sharing app.
“Media evolution research has shown how media industries respond to environmental changes, such as change in socioeconomic conditions or technological changes such as the introduction of a new, competing media technology.” (Napoli P.M, 2010) Instagram added the function, going into and against Vine’s domain, to generate as both a photo and video-sharing app that considers the convenience of the users as both functions are applicable and available in just one app rather than two separate apps.Subsequently, this gained pleasant attention from the audiences as Instagram has authorised more advantages in the video-taking process than Vine as its ultimate competitor. Considering its video-capturing functions has far more suited benefits than Vine’s, Instagram is definitely winning this competition as audiences builds a relationship with the app as they spend more time on it, editing and posting their “works” and “arts”.
In this advancing media organisation, Henry Jenkins (2006) says that audiences have transformed into participants who will and are expected to connect with each other through new regulations and precedents that are perplexing and no one really understands. Once the audience finds out about the superiority of Instagram and what it can do, they’ve taken marketing and business itself to a whole new level. A part of the audiences, marketers especially retailers, have used Instagram as an e-commerce site and an alternate bridge to their income. Sign up an official account for the store and start posting pictures of what can be sold and you have an Instagram shop. This is also supported by Larabie C. (2011), “A more active and participatory role is being taken, whereby Internet users are increasingly creating content as well as consuming it.”
Instagram users who follows the shop on Instagram or anyone who come across the things they fancy on their account could leave a comment on the post and order it through Instagram. Major branded retailers can also be found on Instagram such as Nike and Sportsgirl that uses Instagram for advertisements. It is proven by Hames B. (2014) that sales are increasing from the pictures posted on Instagram through the store’s official account that makes up 20 to 40 percent of its profit. Proliferation of technology forces audiences to converge in order to be the best in the game, in this case, getting Instagram as an e-commerce site for business purposes is a huge advantage. This demonstrates how convergence of an app affect the relationship between the audiences and media technologies.
On the other hand, Instagram might affect audiences’ health in a negative way that it’s detrimental and can create psychological issues. Being overly obsessed with friends’ life and feeling utterly jealous of them by scrolling through your Instagram feed is the beginning of a minor depression. It’s called passive consumption by The Human Computer Institute at Carnegie Mellon. Visual content has allowed audiences to interact with other audiences, forming a discussion platform. (brendonfoye, 2012)
Hanna Krasnova (2013) from Humboldt University Berlin mentions that a picture is so powerful that it provokes social comparison that might trigger inferiority. The app allows you to scroll through the daily dosage of the life of other audiences or friends just like reading through their diary. The impact is huge when this turns into an everyday routine.
Besides feeling envious over the beautiful photos, it’s also an indication of addiction and “stalkerism.” Audiences spent too much time on Instagram itself that it messes with the sense of time and they begin to misuse Instagram as a stalking platform that might be dangerous in worse cases. This justifies a negative affect of convergence between the relationship with the audiences and the Instagram.
Copyright issues might also emerge through stalking as audiences might cross over the line of copyrights and abuse authorities. Stealing of photos without consent might occur and this violates Instagram’s Terms of Service as certain audiences misuse the stolen “work” or pictures for the wrong reasons. This portrays a downside of convergence that is affects the relationship between the audiences and Instagram by mistreatment of copyrights.
Conclusively, the relationship between Instagram and the audiences affected by convergence can be in both positive and negative means. Audience relies on advanced media technology such as Instagram in this generation to share and deliver a message or their “work” and “art” to other audiences. It also affects the relationship when audience uses Instagram as an e-commerce platform, relying on it as it provides an alternate source of income which could not be done before. Convergence has also impacted the relationship negatively in which causes addiction and depression when Instagram is misused for different purposes.
brendonfoye 2012, BCM112 Final Essay, brendonfoye, weblog post, 29th May, Last accessed 5th June 2014, Available: http://brendonfoye.wordpress.com/2012/05/29/bcm112-final-essay/
Dougherty, S. (2014). Instagram shows off its creative side. Available: http://www.smh.com.au/digital-life/digital-life-news/instagram-shows-off-its-creative-side-20140405-3658j.html. Last accessed 5th June 2014.
Foo, V (2014) Are you Using Instagram In the Right Way? Your Story is not over yet; 31st March. Last accessed: 5th June 2014. Available: https://vivyanf27.wordpress.com/2014/03/31/are-you-using-instagram-in-the-right-way/
Jenkins, H. (2006). Welcome to Convergence. Available: http://henryjenkins.org/2006/06/welcome_to_convergence_culture.html. Last accessed 6th June 2014.
Jenkins, H (2001). Convergence? I Diverge. Available: http://www.technologyreview.com/article/401042/convergence-i-diverge/. Last accessed 5th June 2014
Larabie, C. (2011). Participatory Culture and the Hidden Costs of Sharing. The McMaster Journal of Communication. 7 (1), p67-70
Muchmore, M & Eddy, M. (2014). Instagram (for iPhone). Available: http://www.pcmag.com/article2/0,2817,2387146,00.asp. Last accessed 4th June 2014.
Napoli, P.M. 2010, Audience evolution: new technologies and the transformation of media audiences, Columbia University Press, New York.
Neher, K. (2014). Instagraming Your Way to Success in Visual Marketing. Visual Social Marketing for Dummies. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. New Jersey, p186-187.
Smith, K. (2013). Copyright in the Mobile Media Era. Journal of Technology Law & Policy. 13 (1), p2-8.
Winter, J. (2013). Selfie-Loathing. Available: http://www.slate.com/articles/technology/technology/2013/07/instagram_and_self_esteem_why_the_photo_sharing_network_is_even_more_depressing.html. Last accessed 5th June 2014.
Wortham, J. (2014). On Instagram, a Bazaar Where You Least Expect It. Available: http://bits.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/03/08/on-instagram-a-bazaar-where-you-least-expect-it/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_r=0. Last accessed 4th June 201