On October 6, 2010, two Americans, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, launched Instagram as a social network dedicated to sharing photos. The novelty ? The app offered filters to adjust brightness, contrast and color to create the perfect shot in an instant.
He had immediate success. The app was bought by Facebook two years after its launch, and by that time it had become the world’s most popular platform for downloading endless streams of selfies.
Exhibitions, dinners, people on public transport or on vacation, every corner had become the setting for a self-portrait intended for public consumption.
“We have entered the era of ‘internet reality’ where you can only exist through what you post on social media. I selfie, therefore I am,” said Michael Stora, psychologist. and president of the French research collective Observatory of digital worlds at Human Sciences (OMNSH).
Ten years after its launch, Instagram has evolved far beyond selfies, as it redefines “experiences” and blurs the lines between reality and someone’s carefully curated personal brand.
– Virtual showcases –
The app has become the preferred platform for luxury brands, especially fast fashion brands who have developed powerful digital marketing strategies to attract millions of users to the platform.
A shopping feature introduced last year transformed Instagram into an e-commerce site, allowing businesses to use their profiles as virtual storefronts so users can buy and pay without ever leaving the app.
He’s also launched countless careers as digital “influencers” who produce content to their loyal followers on a daily basis, making sponsorship deals along the way.
“They send me the product and I provide all the service that surrounds it … The brands no longer need to use an advertising agency. We take care of everything”, explains Pauline Privez, 36 years old. , fashion and beauty influencer since 2009.
Instagram has also made luxury brands more accessible, as they can interact with users on a daily basis through their own accounts, fashion historian Audrey Millet said.
“By posting content freely, they are opening up to everyone, shedding the image of snobbery attached to them,” Millet said.
– Travel guides –
The app has also revolutionized the dining experience.
Restaurant owners can count on carefully staged photos of their dishes, or moody snapshots in their cozy interiors to attract new customers. It is even possible to reserve a table in certain restaurants directly via the application.
Instagram has become a place to find inspiration in the kitchen, where anyone can access the recipes of famous chefs who have invested a lot in the platform, such as Jamie Oliver who is followed by 8.3 million people and publishes new recipes daily.
Maelle Bourras, a Parisian in her thirties, follows “about fifteen chefs” including Alain Passard, who has half a million subscribers, and Cyril Lignac, with 2.5 million.
“On weekends, I try to reproduce some of their creations. It’s free and accessible, and allows me to vary from the usual dishes, ”said Bourras.
Others use Instagram to choose their next vacation, and tourist boards rely heavily on content creators to promote their destinations.
Digital influencers like Privez publish their “experiences” and in return are paid, in addition to free travel.
Deprive, which has 140,000 subscribers, performs between six and seven “sponsored trips” per year, “not counting the two-day press trips,” she said.
Around the world, museums and pop-up “experiences” are increasingly offering interactive facilities just for visitors to take selfies and post them on Instagram and other social media platforms.
– Pressure for perfection –
Not all social media celebrities are out there for the money. Sylvain Hawawini, known under the name of Dr Shawa Vet for his 107,000 followers, poses with animals in hundreds of photos of places around the world, so that others can “discover landscapes or places still little known”.
The insatiable pursuit of “likes” on Instagram has made the platform addictive for some, and can have devastating effects, especially for the younger ones, said psychologist Stora.
Instagram gives teens a false sense of reality and a push for perfection “that they can’t achieve,” he said.
Influencers can also feel the pressure.
“I have to stick with it for my professional life, but in my personal life I am getting more and more detached from it,” said Deprive.
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