Are you being influenced? An investigation into Instagram amongst students at Queen Margaret University from three different cultures (Northern Irish, English and Scottish) to find out what motivates students to use this social media network and follow who they follow.
The aim of this dissertation was to effectively investigate and understand the reasons behind the way in which students form a cross-cultural UK study (Northern Irish, English and Scottish) use Instagram in particular, to follow who they follow and establish similarities or differences. In contrast to existing literature, although there is plenty of sources available which look at the reasons behind Instagram use, there is nothing available which explicitly focuses on this phenomenon in relation to UK students. Therefore, there is a need for further developments into this area. The aim of this research was supported and helped achieved through the use of the following objectives: 1. To evaluate the popularity of Instagram as a means for Northern Irish, English and Scottish students to use in comparison to Facebook. 2. To investigate what factors are related to Northern Irish, English and Scottish students which makes them use Instagram and follow the likes of influencers, to see if there is a correlation of results. 3. To understand if personal image of Instagram influencers and their level of engagement plays a part in which entices Northern Irish, English and Scottish students to interact with them. This study adopted a qualitative methodological approach to data collection in order to obtain rich and detailed information into the research area. The data was collected using focus groups, were a total of three sessions were conducted with each individual sitting consisting of only Northern Irish, English and finally Scottish students from Queen Margaret University. These students were selected via a mixture of non-probability sampling and convenience sampling, as the researcher needed participants who fitted the criteria of the study and were also easily accessible. An inductive approach was undertaken by the researcher, with thematic analysis used to analyse the data gathered in order to identify key themes across the findings. The researcher found that the students who participated in this study use Instagram excessively and spend large amounts of time on the social media site each day. The findings also indicate Northern Irish, English and Scottish students use Instagram for a variety of different reasons such as a means for social interaction and surveillance of others. In addition, it was found students are selective in who they follow in which their own personal interests can determine who they interact with on the social media site. Overall these findings have highlighted nothing out of the ordinary which previous literature has not already touched upon, however this research study has strengthened the existing literature available and has provided further recommendations to which similar studies in the future could potentially do differently. It is important to note this research had a narrow focus due to the short time frame in which the work needed to be completed by for this honours dissertation module.