Life Through the Lens of Instagrammers

Capture,  filter, hashtagshare. 

On an average day, Instagrammers around the world perform this fluid gesture over 80 million times as they express themselves through the universal language of visuals.*

But Instagrammers don’t just share their world visually—recent research indicates that this visual experience expands their perspectives and inspires new behaviors.

To get a clearer picture of what the world looks like through Instagrammers’ eyes, Instagram recently commissioned a study from researchers at Sparkler. The team interviewed over 2,000 people ages 18–34 across France, Germany and the UK about how they share and connect digitally and visually. Additional research in the UK explored how people respond to the same images when viewed on different platforms.

As the world continues to shift towards visual communication, the emergent shifts and behaviors revealed by the data may offer a window into the future.


Instagram is changing the way people see the world 

Among Instagrammers in our study who post daily, a full 1 in 4 believes that Instagram has actually changed the way they see the world. And in France, that number rises to 38%.

Those shifting perceptions are leading to new behaviors and habits. In fact, 30% of Instagrammers who post daily actually plan their Instagram posts before taking a picture. As Instagrammers assess what they see based on its potential to be posted on Instagram, they are re-engineering the photo-taking process (and we’re not even talking about selfie sticks here).


Instagrammers feel empowered to do and see more

We also see a higher-order benefit when we look at these shifts in the larger context of an Instagrammer’s life. Instagram may be inspiring people to see and seize opportunities that make their lives richer and more fulfilled.

Across France, Germany and the UK, on average, 58% of Instagrammers in our study say that Instagram can make them laugh, dream or think.

23% say that Instagram has empowered them to do and see more in life (28% among those who post daily). And 18% of those who post daily would go so far as to say that Instagram has “opened up new possibilities” in their life.

For example, one respondent in the UK finds motivation in other Instagrammers’ travel moments as they “make you dream and actually think about how you’re going to do it.”

The data also hint at 2 elements that may explain how this all takes place.


It starts with Instagrammers’ inquisitive mindset

Many of the most engaged Instagrammers want to see things differently, and they actively seek out new perspectives.

In fact, among the Instagrammers in our study who post a photo or video daily, 62% say they visit Instagram to stimulate their imagination, see new and inspiring things or explore new perspectives or ideas.

For these Instagrammers, the experience is not about escapism—it’s about engaging more deeply as they discover positive things that inspire them to see and do new things. As one person we spoke with in the UK says, Instagram is “a mirror to the positive things in my life.”


And then environment elevates the experience

The second element at play here is the actual experience of using Instagram. Research conducted in the UK reveals just how much the environment in which content is viewed affects the way people perceive and experience that content.

When the same image was shown to people on 5 digital platforms, people perceived and experienced those images in meaningfully different ways depending on the platform. For example, images viewed on Instagram were more likely to be described as “imaginative,” “distinctive” and “creative.” These descriptors reveal how people see content on Instagram and hint at what people expect to see.

And when people were asked to choose from a list of hashtags to apply to those images, they were more likely to apply hashtags like #magical, #sophisticated and #edgy to images seen on Instagram.


These findings highlight how environment can add to—or even help define—the experience. In short, many people see images as more compelling because they’re on Instagram.


What it means for marketers

Instagrammers’ openness to new ways of seeing and doing makes Instagram a picture-perfect place for brand and product discovery—and for  brands to connect with the people who matter most.

Challenge conventions: Instagrammers love to see new and inspiring posts and rediscover familiar things in a new light. This gives marketers a unique opportunity to shift how Instagrammers view and engage with their brands—by revealing what the world looks like from their brand’s perspective, showcasing unexpected formats (like cinematic landscape videos or call-to-action buttons that cater to Instagrammers’ curiosity) or both.

Entice through experiences: To connect most meaningfully with Instagrammers, brands will want to leave them feeling inspired and enriched. Having defined their objectives, brands should consider what types of experiences will best deliver on those objectives and make their message most relevant—whether it is the view #fromwhereIstand, a #picoftheday or just pure #instagood.

Connect in context:  While well-targeted, high-quality creative has the potential to succeed in many places, the unique attributes associated with viewing on Instagram highlight an opportunity for marketers. Brands may want to explore whether playing to Instagrammers’ “imaginative” instincts—by tailoring creative to Instagram—sparks additional synergy and inspires more beautiful connections.


Source: “The Creative Lens” by Sparkler (Instagram-commissioned study of people ages 18–34 in DE, FR and UK), Apr 2015. *Instagram internal data, Sep 2015.