Instagram is transforming: What was once a place to share frivolous pics has become a hub for information and advocacy.
- Text, infographics and newsy illustrations are exploding on the app, Neal Rothschild and Sara Fischer report.
Why it matters: The pandemic and racial justice movement brought purpose and focus to its millions of users, supercharging the urgency to get educated and share useful information.
- The pandemic put an end to all the fun that users typically posted, while also creating a pressing need for reliable health information.
The big picture: The information ecosystems on Twitter and Facebook are well entrenched, leaving many people — particularly the younger-skewing Instagram crowd — to seek a new space.
- Then in the wake of the police killings of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, it was primed not just for information, but activism.
"Instagram felt like a place for a clean, fresh start," Mosheh Oinounou, a digital consultant and former TV news producer, tells Axios.
- Oinounou, who has created an informational Instagram, said people are turning to Instagram Stories for "charts, infographics, quotes and headlines because they feel overwhelmed by the news."
Accounts that have leaned into this trend have seen growth skyrocket:
Big publishers are also benefiting:
- @ProPublica, which had already been posting text-centric information, saw 70% follower growth in the last 6 months, almost all coming since the onset of the pandemic in mid-March, according to CrowdTangle data.
- Refinery29 (2.4 million followers) went from 41% text-based info-posts in January to 72% in July, according to an Axios analysis. Business Insider (2.3 million) went from 5% to 48%.
Between the lines: A key shift in how information on Instagram spreads came in mid-2018, when the app allowed users to share posts from the feed to their Stories, unlocking a 1-to-many share mechanism that allowed posts to get massive audiences.
- Instagram doesn't have a traditional share button to drive virality.
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