As you explore, consider the following (to discuss with the group): At first glance, what’s here, what’s good, what begs to be thought about and written about? What additional data is needed? How do the images/videos relate to the metadata? (Can/should these be analysed independently?) What tool(s) beyond these basics would be useful in expanding your exploration of your area?
Instagrammatics: Analysing Visual Social Media Workshop
Analysing Visual Social Media
2016 CCI DIGITAL METHODS SUMMER SCHOOL
Dr Tim Highfield, QUT @timhighfield
Digital Media Research Centre
& Dr Tama Leaver, Curtin University @tamaleaver
Department of Internet Studies
1. Visual Social Media
2. Meta Instagram:
What we get from the
3. Visual Analytics
4. Surfacing Tools for
Not on Instagram? Use Account: dmrcworkshop / Password: --------
Table 1. Instagram Timeline
6 October 2010 Instagram app launched via Apple’s App Store
12 December 2010 1 million registered users
3 August 2011 150 million photos uploaded
September 2011 10 million registered users
3 April 2012 Instagram releases Android version
9 April 2012 Facebook purchases Instagram for $US1 billion
26 July 2012 80 million registered users
16 August 2012 Instagram Photo Maps launched
5 November 2012 Instagram Profiles for the Web launched
5 December 2012 Instagram removes ability for photos to appear as ‘cards’ on Twitter
26 February 2013 100 million active monthly users
20 June 2013 Instagram adds video (15-seconds maximum)
10 July 2013 Instagram adds native web embedding for photos and videos
6 September 2013 150 million users
12 December 2013 Instagram Direct messaging service added
24 March 2014 200 million users
26 August 2014 Instagram/Facebook release Hyperlapse app via Apple App Store
10 November 2014 Instagram enables photo caption editing after posting
10 December 2014 300 million users, 70 million photos & videos shared per day
24 March 2015 Instagram/Facebook release Layout app via Apple App Store
27 August 2015 Instagram adds native support for portrait/landscape (non-square)
1 September 2015 Instagram overhauls Direct with threaded comments and ‘send to’
22 September 2015 400 million users (75% of those outside the US)
22 October 2015 Instagram/Facebook launch Boomerang looping video app
8 February 2016 Instagram adds multiple account support and account switching
The (insta)grammar of Instagram i
• Twitter ≠Instagram
– Retweeting vs. regramming
• DYNAMIC DATA
– Captions and comments
– Editing after the fact
– Tagging in comments
– Commenting months later
– Variable numbers of comments, likes, media…
The (insta)grammar of Instagram ii
• The RICH KIDS RICHES of INSTAGRAM
– The Instagram aesthetic - filters!
– Memes and macros!
– Food porn!
– More cats!
– Oh my!
API hooks as starting points
NB: Privacy isn’t a binary …
Individual and cultural definitions and expectations of
privacy are ambiguous, contested, and changing. People
may operate in public spaces but maintain strong
perceptions or expectations of privacy. Or, they may
acknowledge that the substance of their communication
is public, but that the specific context in which it appears
implies restrictions on how that information is -- or ought
to be -- used by other parties. Data aggregators or search
tools make information accessible to a wider public than
what might have been originally intended.
(Markham & Buchanan, 2012, p. 6)
Contextual Integrity in Ethics
• Instagram may be experienced as private or partially
private in everyday use (contextually), despite being
public at a technical level (via the API).
• The shift from an iPhone only app to Android and
Windows phone, plus web profiles makes Instagram
photos more and more public.
• Researchers have to weigh intentionality in sharing,
not just technical publicness (“it’s freely available
– Selfies vs. POV vs. …
• Tropes and norms
– #tbt, #latergram vs. ‘in the moment’
• Non-photo media/composite
• Combining visual media with
• Quantitative studies? Mixed methods?
– Geolocation and visual presentation
• And what else?
– What is allowed (content, practice-wise)?
What is not? (e.g. banned hashtags (#🍆),
For example: #ultrasounds
Table 2. #ultrasound tagged
media on Instagram, 2014
March 3468 151 3619
April 3847 128 3975
May 3575 151 3726
10890 430 11320
Table 3. #ultrasound tagged images on Instagram, 10-11 March 2014
Total number of Instagram media items 295
Items deleted or made private within a
Sonogram without personally identifiable
145 (66% of sonograms)
Sonograms with personally identifiable
76 (34% of sonograms)
Collages / Professional Photos 45
Social experience of sonogram 22
Historical sonogram 4
Sonogram humour 4
Other medical ultrasound (not foetal
 Surfacing Tools for Beginning an Instagram Analysis
Instagram’s explore options
(For logged-in users, web and app interfaces)
Allows you to save the last 500 items for any given
hashtag (or all your own images).
• DMI (Amsterdam)
– Instagram scraper
– Instagram user network
DMI Instagram Tools for Researchers
Make a start …
• Choose a surfacing tool as a way to get started in
exploring visual social media relating to your research
interests (and compare what tools offer/do not offer)…
– Instagram’s own search and explore options
– Instaport.me – download (up to) 500 photos/video
from a specific hashtag
– Websta.me/search – explore hashtags
– Gramfeed.com – explore location or place
– DMI Instagram tools -
– Login, or use dmrcworkshop / PW: --------
A quick summary of what you looked at:
– Why did you choose this?
– At first glance, what’s here, what’s good, what begs
to be thought about and written about?
– What additional data is needed? (Can it be found?)
– How do the images/videos relate to the metadata?
(Can/should these be analysed independently?)
– What tool(s) beyond these basics would be useful in
expanding your exploration of your area?
– Pick two or three images/media objects – how might
you analyse them?
Would you like to know more?
Highfield, T., & Leaver, T. (2015). A methodology for mapping Instagram
hashtags. First Monday, 20(1). http://doi.org/10.5210/fm.v20i1.5563
Highfield, T., & Leaver, T. (Forthcoming, May 2016). Instagrammatics and
digital methods: Studying visual social media, from selfies and GIFs to memes
and emoji. Communication Research and Practice, 2(1).