Facebook a Metaverse: Instagram

Cheryl Lawson

The Acquisition and Rapid Growth

In 2012, Facebook made a strategic move by acquiring a burgeoning photo-sharing app, Instagram, for approximately $1 billion. This acquisition signaled the potential and importance of visual-based social platforms in the ever-evolving digital landscape. The purchase not only bolstered Facebook’s portfolio but also ushered in an era of rapid growth for Instagram.

The Rise to a Cult-like User Base

Instagram quickly transcended its initial status as a simple photo-sharing app. Its easy-to-use interface, paired with a range of editing tools, allowed even amateur photographers to produce captivating, professional-grade images. This democratization of photography, combined with the app’s social features, cultivated a devout and ever-expanding user base.

The ‘Platform Killer’ Image

Instagram’s continuous evolution made it a formidable contender in the social media realm. With its innovative features and consistent updates, it began overshadowing other platforms, earning it the moniker of a ‘(insert social platform here) killer’.

Stories and the Snapchat Influence

In 2016, Instagram introduced ‘Stories,’ a feature allowing users to share transient, 24-hour content. This was undeniably inspired by Snapchat’s primary function. Instagram’s rendition, however, boasted a more intuitive interface and integration with an already robust platform, making it instantly popular.

A Hub for Photographers and Artists

Instagram became an essential platform for photographers, both amateur and professional. Its focus on visuals allowed artists to showcase their work, gain followers, and even monetize their artistry through collaborations and sponsorships.

Enter Reels: The TikTok Resemblance

Continuing its trend of integrating successful external features, Instagram launched ‘Reels’ in 2020. A clear nod to TikTok’s short-form video content, Reels gave users the ability to create and explore short, engaging videos on a new dedicated Feed.

The Rise of the Instagram Model and Influencer

As Instagram grew, so did its influence on popular culture. The platform saw the rise of the ‘Instagram Model’ and the ‘Instagram Influencer’ – individuals who leveraged their substantial follower base to shape trends, promote brands, and in many cases, carve out lucrative careers.

Empowering Businesses: Tools, Shop, and More

Instagram recognized the immense potential of its platform for businesses. It rolled out a suite of features tailored for brands and entrepreneurs: from detailed insights and advertising options to the ‘Shop’ feature, transforming profiles into storefronts. Today, businesses, big and small, harness the power of Instagram to reach audiences, drive sales, and bolster their brand image.

The Rule of Thirds in Photography:

For many aspiring photographers and Instagram enthusiasts, understanding the fundamentals of framing can enhance the quality of photos tremendously. One such fundamental concept is the “Rule of Thirds.”

Key Insights from the Video:

  • The rule of thirds is paramount in both photography and cinematography. It’s a key principle that paves the way for dynamic, aesthetically pleasing compositions.
  • The concept involves imagining your image divided into nine equal segments by two vertical and two horizontal lines. The idea is to position the essential elements in your scene along these lines, or at the points where they intersect.
  • Placing your subject at any of the four intersections or aligning them with these lines, be it horizontally or vertically, results in an engaging and balanced composition.
  • By deliberately placing focal points off-center and providing negative space, a photograph can convey a richer story or mood. For instance, aligning a subject’s eyes with the top horizontal line can create a compelling portrait.
  • It’s also crucial to consider multiple dimensions within a frame – left vs. right, up vs. down, or forward vs. backward. This multi-dimensional approach can lead to a more dynamic visual narrative.

Exercise: Photography with the Rule of Thirds

Objective: To understand and apply the Rule of Thirds in photography, leading to the creation of dynamic and visually pleasing images. (Instructors, I usually allow students time during class to explore campus and take their photos, then we discuss them as a class)


Choose Your Subject: This could be anything – a friend, a pet, a building, a tree, or any object that catches your eye. Remember, the goal is to emphasize the subject using the Rule of Thirds.

Frame with the Grid: Imagine your camera or phone screen is divided into nine equal rectangles, split by two horizontal and two vertical lines. Most smartphones and digital cameras have a built-in grid feature you can activate.

Place Your Subject: Position your subject along one of the vertical or horizontal lines, or ideally, at one of the four intersections. Remember, this rule is a guide, not a strict directive. Feel free to experiment!

Capture the Photo: Once you’re satisfied with your composition, capture the image.

Reflect: Look at the photo. Does your subject draw the eye? Does the surrounding space in the photo lead viewers to explore the rest of the image?

Share and Discuss: Share your photo with peers or on a discussion platform. Discuss:

Why did you choose the particular subject.
The placement of the subject in accordance to the Rule of Thirds.
Where you intend viewers to focus and how you hope they will explore the entire frame.
Note: Save these photos as we’ll be revisiting them later in the chapter for further exercises and discussions. Understanding the theory behind photography principles is one thing, but seeing its application in your photos will solidify your grasp on the concept!

Boosting Engagement with Reels and Stories: Tips and Tools

Instagram (and Facebook) Reels and Stories offer a great way to boost engagement and visibility. Here are some tips and tools, including AI-driven ones, to optimize your content:

Understand Your Audience: Before diving into tools, identify the content your audience enjoys. Insights will show which Stories or Reels get the most engagement.

Embrace AI for Content Creation: Tools like ChatGPT and Bard can help generate creative ideas or even draft engaging captions for Reels, especially when experiencing creative blocks.

Efficient Video Editing: For those who find video editing time-consuming, Time Bolt can expedite the process, and Magic Studio can help refine Instagram photos.

Maximize Reel Potential: With Video dot AI, you can auto-detect the highlights of longer videos, making it simpler to create engaging reels. This saves content creation time and ensures the best parts of your videos are showcased.

Optimize for YouTube Too: If you’re also active on YouTube, TubeBuddy is an invaluable tool. It aids in everything from keyword research to A/B testing video metadata.

CapCut: This mobile video editing tool is a favorite among many social media enthusiasts, particularly for TikTok and Instagram Reels and Stories. It offers a range of intuitive features to enhance videos: from adding music, transitions, and text to specialized visual effects. Plus, it’s free to use, making it accessible for all creators, from beginners to pros.

Advanced Video Edits: For those looking for intricate video edits like background removal or replacement, Runwayml is a fantastic solution. It’s an excellent tool for creating dynamic TikTok-style edits for other platforms.

Stay Updated: Instagram often releases new features for Reels and Stories. Always explore these features as they can give you an edge in engagement.

Instagram Threads

We discussed Threads a bit in our Twitter / X section, however fast it’s rise has been, it appears that over half of its users have already given up on the new platform.

Meta plans retention ‘hooks’ for Threads as more than half of users leave app


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Intro to Social Media Copyright © 2021 by Cheryl Lawson is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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