We already know that social media can affect how we act and how we see ourselves, however the influence does not stop there. Social media, specifically Instagram, is changing our surroundings as well.
In June this year Instagram reached one billion monthly users. In other words, more than 1 in 8 people on the planet use the photo-sharing app.
Instagram’s success and continued growth in the social media space, especially among Millenials, has created a need for the things we do, the food we eat, and the places we go to be more photogenic and striking than ever before.
Simply put, things need to be ‘Instagrammable’ these days. It is no longer enough to have an Instagram-worthy product – rainbow cake for example – if you want your establishment to attract customers on Instagram.
The design and decor of a place has become as much as part of the ‘wow’ factor that draws patronage as the contents of the menu or stock on the shelves.
The metaphorical meat of the product is sandwiched by bread of the design forming a complete experience, replete with photo opportunities of course.
Instagrammability in Action
Evelyn’s Cafe Bar in Manchester, England, with its trendy bare brick walls, neon sign, hanging plants and mishmash of textures, is one of the companies making use of this trend to increase its business.
Manager Angus Pride says Evelyn’s did not start out with Instagram in mind, however, ‘When we realised we were so “Instafriendly”, we adapted our approach and it’s now key to everything we do.’
Italian luxury brand Moschino also courted the Instagram crowd when it opened its New York store in 2015. Sales staff encourage customers to take photos with the store’s eye-catching displays of massively oversized shoes, a bag and a giant mannequin. They even remind customers to tag their photos with the brand’s hashtag.
As far as public spaces go, we need look no farther than George Town in Penang, Malaysia. While Penang’s capital has always attracted tourists, thanks to its beautiful historic buildings and reputation as a foodie paradise, the UNESCO World Heritage Site attracts attention for something quite different these days – street art.
Murals adorn the outside of shophouses in the old town, some of which have interactable props as part of the installation creating an interesting 2D and 3D piece of art.
These have proven irresistible to visitors, as shown by the #PenangStreetArt hashtag on Instagram attached to some 52,600 photos at time of writing.
Ride the Wave
Above are just a few examples of the trend towards creating Instagrammable spaces designed to attract visitors and customers. There are many more.
Critics contend that all this does is increase the homogeneity of the world – owners of trendy cafes seem to have a penchant for bare bricks and reclaimed wood regardless of where they are in the world.
However, there is also the fact that to go in search of Instagrammable places, people are going to decidedly non-touristy locations and getting to know cities better. ‘Instagram Pier’ in Hong Kong is one such example.
Whatever your opinion, it seems this is the current wave and in that sense, we might as well ride it out, while taking some good photos of course.