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Instagram is a world-wide online platform or application in which people can share photos, videos, stories, and messages. It was created in October 2010 by Kevin Systrom and then sold to Facebook in 2012 for $1 billion (Aslam, 2017). Facebook’s acquisition generated the ability of uploading Instagram posts to Facebook’s platform. In addition, as of August 10th, of 2017, Instagram had 700 million of monthly active Instagram users, from which 77.6 million are from the U.S (Aslam 2017). Instagram is a very common and used platform that serves the purpose to entertain, relate people.
This platform has gained such importance due to the impact of visual communication. According to Russmann and Svensson (2016) “images are understood as an additional source of communication complementing written or spoken text” (p.3), which means that when visuals are portrayed they complement the information trying to be sent. Images help people to understand things better and to engage more with the material. Thus, Instagram is an effective method to communicate what a company is all about.
Moreover, Instagram has many pros such as being a very useful business tool that can help with advertising and marketing efforts of any profit or non-profit organization. In this application, when someone creates an account he/she has the option to change the account to a business profile, in which are many helpful options for the company, such as having the option of promote (for a price) something related to the business, having insights of the account regarding followers and posts, and having the opportunity to repost through other accounts. For instance, for each post that is published, the publisher has the choice of looking at how many likes, comments, impression, reach and engagement the picture or video got. Thus, assessing the market and quantifying the effectiveness and efficiency of the marketing.
In addition, Instagram also serves the function of being a very effective analytical approach. Communicating through these types of platforms is sometimes more effective than text (Russmann and Svensson, 2016, p.3). Therefore, non-profit organizations that try to convey a message of solidarity, integrity, or values in general, can accomplish that with the use of visuals on Instagram with videos and images. For example, non-profits such as Samaritan’s Purse use this application to show their contributions to different causes, such as natural disasters, and they explain how people can help. Indeed, Instagram serves the purpose of broadcasting the message to thousands of people around the world.
On the other hand, Instagram has many disadvantages such as having unhealthy promotions, which creates a negative influence on people. Due to the fact that posts on this platform are only restricted if someone reports it, control over thousands of negative posts is imposible. This is a problem for non-profit organizations because damaging posts promoting, for example, posts related to the killing of animals for fun, can affect the impact of a non-profit such as World Wildlife Fund. Hence, non-profit organizations should increase their influence in this social media to minimize the negative influence of damaging posts.
Also, one of the most important factors that are a disadvantage of Instagram on non-profits is the possible falsification of an account. Instagram lets users around the world create accounts in an easy manner, people only need an email account which could be fake. Consequently, there are thousands of people who create fraudulent accounts to falsify other accounts and promote false information. For instance, there could be a fake account of St. Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital in which donations are asked to a fraudulent bank account. Therefore, non-profits having Instagram accounts should be aware of the possible false accounts that might exist.
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