Photographic triggers of engagement with event pictures on Instagram

Authors: Calcagno, G. and Moital

Start date: 5 June 2017

Social media’s presence has increased through the years, and the different types of content they display (words, pictures and videos) serve as a communication tool between the company and its consumers. This content contains marketing messages that remain impressed in an individual’s mind and consequently affect behaviour, providing an excellent opportunity to evaluate the reactions towards the marketing material viewers are exposed to. This study explored the triggers of engagement with event pictures on Instagram. Triggers are features within an image creating the entire picture. The study focused on identifying those triggers related to photography (e.g. angle and lighting). Such studies are frequent in tourism studies but appear less in relation to event images. Therefore, this study serves as a basis to evaluate the applicability of existing frameworks of photographic triggers to the context of event pictures on Instagram. Seven generation-Y individuals were interviewed using semi-structured interviews with the aid of photo-elicitation, leading to an analysis of 75 images (15 per participant). Prior to the interview participants were asked about an event they were interested in (seven different events were selected, 6 outdoor and one indoor). Next, 15 images posted by the event which had different depicted context were identified by the researchers (branded material, crowds, set up, entertainment, entire stage, alternative area of the event and venue zoom out). During the interview participants were asked to look at the pictures in their own time and then place them into four engagement categories: ‘no action’, 'like', 'comment' and 'tag'. Once the participant disclosed their reaction, they were asked why they reacted that way. Additional questions were asked based on their answers, allowing for features to be uncovered. The study identified 13 different photographic features that serve as triggers of engagement: angle, background, lighting, colour, design, details or lack of thereof, filters, focus, panoramic, professional, posed vs. natural, weather, text and image combination. These features were identified as triggers because they caused engagement or because the lack of them caused a lack of action on the image. The latter three features have not been identified in previous studies and thus this study contributes to enhance our understanding of photographic triggers of engagement. Implications for the marketing of events are discussed.

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