We take photographs for numerous reasons to record memorable moments. With the help of mobile phone, we can take photos and upload them on social media immediately. The use of digital photography brings a shift from special or rarefied moments to everyday images. (Murray, S 2008) Taking photos from everyday becomes an important digital sharing practice. Taking photos, uploading on social media and sharing with others becomes ubiquitous within internet users. Currently, there are more than 2 billion internet users and the third billion will be reached by the end of 2014. They share photos or with text on social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. A blog from The New York Times says that the act of taking photos is no longer enough to confirm reality; only sharing with others can give us that validation. Internet users share photos to tell stories while celebrities share photos to promote themselves and interact with their fans. Sharing photos on social media also becomes an important marketing tool for brands to promote their products and communicate with consumers. In other words, all participants are now aesthetic producers, adding photographs into content for their profiles, blogs, feeds as well as consumers.
Statistics from 2013 shows that 62% of internet active users have shared or curated a photo or video. Visuals positively affect engagements include reading, clicks, shares and purchases by 80%.
Sharing photos of our daily lives seems become a trend that most of us see it as a better way to share our stories and experiences. Basically, we freely share everything in our daily lives, from products we like, places that we enjoyed and sights that inspire us. Internet users share photos with many different reasons. A study conducted by The New York Times Customer Insight Group, titled “The Psychology of Sharing,” claims several main reasons why people share information online. First, we share to bring valuable and entertaining content to others. Second, we share to define ourselves to others. We also share to grow and nourish relationships. Another reason why we share is for self-fulfillment. Finally, the last reason is to market causes or brands.
For celebrities, they share to promote themselves and increase exposure further to build a better relationship with fans.
Social media has allowed a new way to follow and track the lives of our favorite celebrities. Most celebrities have their own social networking sites account for sharing information and interacting. Celebrities have started letting public look into their everyday lives from a first person point of view. More stories and photos are being leaked to the public first on social media than by way of the traditional outlets. Rihanna, top 5 Instagram user that has most followers, updating photos of her celebrity and personal life.
It also offers an opportunity for fans to show their supports via follow their favorite celebrities and even repost on their own Instagram. Fans, sometimes, share photos of their favorite celebrities in their social networking sites without permission. Scholar, Henry Jenkins, asking whether fans are copyright infringers, creative collaborators or niche marketers. Some suggest that fans are different from plagiarists, scrapers and other copyright infringers.
As for brands, they share to promote their products and build brand recognition. When it comes to marketing business, pictures speak volumes. Posts on Facebook, for instance, increasing engagement when include album, picture or video by an average of 180%, 120% and 100% respectively. Social media differ to traditional media in one key respect which is they enable two way conversations. Therefore, brands can ask consumers to share photos with them. Instagram, a photo-sharing program quickly became the fastest growing marketing tool on social media. Big brand such as Coca Cola uploads creative photos on Instagram to promote the brand.
Their product can be seen somewhere in the photo. Those photos deliver the personality of young, positive and creative. Coca Cola creates the photos in an aesthetic way and engages audiences effectively. Brand created photos are posted on brand’s official Instagram feed while consumers shared images are posted on their personal feed but can be searched by typing in hashtag (#) with the brand’s name. (Chang, C.Y 2014)Photos can help to reflect brands without being directly sales related. It also creates a vibrant visual community between brands and consumer perceptions.