At the beginning of the semester, Professor Robinson said something along the lines of, “young people always play key roles in inventing new media,” and that in order to get rich quick, we need to keep our eyes open for ways to improve our interactions with technology. Well, I have a suggestion for Instagram: improve searching capabilities.
There are so many Instagram accounts with varying focuses, including fashion, travel, food, beauty and home decor. You can follow celebrities, photographers, companies, brands and bloggers. I use Instagram like I use Pinterest; it is a way to look at cool stuff. Similar to Pinterest’s feature of linking out to different websites, Instagram’s tagging links you to specific brand’s or people’s accounts.
In contrast, Pinterest isn’t a reflection of reality. At least, not my reality. I have boards for a dream home, dream closet, dream vacation, dream wedding etc. I don’t own a home; I’m not getting married, nor do I have a million dollars for clothes and travel. But it’s nice to have something to aspire to. Following bloggers and niche accounts on Instagram provides an experience similar to Pinterest that blends fantasy with reality.
Where Instagram falls short is in maximizing its full potential. As I mentioned in an earlier post, Instagram is a great way to discover new restaurants, brands, hotels etc. However, its search parameters are extremely narrow. Accounts are only discoverable if you have an exact username, and hashtags can be limiting because of their specificity. For example, you can’t search “good brunch spots in LA,” or “things to do in Paris,” like you could on Pinterest. With Instagram, you can waste hours searching through different accounts, discovering so many different places, restaurants and people at a whim. Unfortunately, when you are looking for a particular thing or subject, such as “hidden gems of Europe,” or “party themes,” Instagram makes it next to impossible to find.
The most frustrating thing is that you know that kind of stuff is out there, it just hasn’t been categorized and made searchable. If I search “party themes,” I want pictures to come up of cool ideas that other users have “liked” or commented on. I could be trying to turn Instagram into something it’s not, but this would definitely better my user experience. Too bad the people at Instagram will never see this.