Long captions can be purely descriptive. On @ZoeBakes, Zoe Francois details the inspiration behind her candied confections. While creating her rose-decorated almond Bundt cake, “My head was flooded with images of the red carpet dresses at the Oscars; Vintage Easter Bonnets and Bridal Showers,” she wrote. “That’s a lot of pressure for one little cake.”
The messages can also be a call to action. In a recent post, Amani Al-Khatahtbeh, an outspoken advocate for Muslim women, huffs: “The amount of wallah bros that use ‘You’re my sister in Islam !!!!’ to justify their entitlement to harass women they don’t even know about the way they dress,” adding an admonitory, “Sheesh do better, please, Brothers!”
Extended posts can also be part of a marketing strategy, as Michelle Obama grasped when earlier this year she began documenting the publicity tour for her “Becoming” memoir. On her feed she offered uplift: “We’ve all struggled with the balancing act that can take over days, years, or decades of our lives. And I want us all to remember that these are the moments and lessons that make us who we are, every little twist and turn, every little bump and bruise, and ultimately every joy …”
Such posts invite the kind of introspection that Instagram has encouraged only recently. “Instagram is a very twitchy medium where you click, click, click and then go on to the next thing,” said Richert Schnorr, the director of digital media for the New York Public Library. “On social media, people are craving something more.”
It may be a sketch, or even a novel. In partnership with Mother, an advertising agency in New York, the library recently published “Alice in Wonderland,” “The Metamorphosis” and “A Christmas Carol” on Instagram. “When Alice was published,” Mr. Schnorr recalled, “we had well over 100,000 new followers in 48 hours, a spike unlike anything we’ve ever seen.”
We want to be seen — and heard
Beefed-up diary entries, too, have been such a hit that an app, Instagram Memoir, briefly surfaced as a $5 download on the Apple Store, its objective to encourage journaling by students in grades 3 to 12.