Rhetoric is often referred to as persuasive speaking or writing. A type of rhetoric that includes the ability to communicate and analyze images is visual rhetoric. The use of visual rhetoric is commonly seen on social media sites. Some familiar social media sites include Facebook, Snap Chat, Instagram, Tik Tok, Twitter, YouTube, and blogs. An enjoyable and sociable app that uses images and content to influence users is Instagram.Instagram is a popular social media app that encompasses visual rhetoric and modes of persuasion to impact an audience.

Instagram is a visual platform that includes both video and photo sharing.Instagram is entirely visual because users can only upload images or videos. With the Instagram app, users can upload and take pictures or videos, edit, and publish to their followers or other users. Users can comment, like, or share on published posts. The app is a way to communicate with friends and family.Also, Instagram users can read news posts, blogs, and buy products and services from business profiles.  A user can create a personal account and make it private and public. Users can share their lives and their favorite activities through colorful pictures, boomerangs, and videos. Instagram is an easy way to see what an old friend is up to, where someone went on vacation or Starbucks’ newest holiday drink. Celebrities, businesses, and political figures can use the app so that users can be persuaded to buy a product, vote, or watch a celebrities’ new movie.

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With Instagram, there are three categories of the app. The first category is Instagram Stories. A user can post a video or photo in one story that lasts for 24 hours. This feature is similar to Snapchat. A user’s story is shown at the top of the app or by clicking on the profile picture. An example of an uploaded Instagram story is pictured in Figure 1. In a story, a user can post links for users to click on or also surveys. The second category within Instagram is Instagram Questions. Under this category, a user can post questions for their followers to answer, or they can answer questions posted by their followers. When answering a question, the user is notified that someone responded to their questionnaire and who the person is. Also, users can post questions that someone asked them on their story. Many influencers and celebrities use this feature. Figure 2 shows an influencer answering a question asked by one of their followers. Lastly, the third category is Instagram Direct. This is the most basic feature that Instagram has. This feature enables users to post and share videos, photos, profiles, and other links to groups of people. In this category, users can message and chat with their followers and other Instagram users.

Figure 1 Figure 2

            Within Instagram users are impacted and influenced by what they see. The Instagram app logo features a camera icon surrounded by vibrant colors of pink, blue, orange, yellow, and purple. The app icon itself has a strong visual effect. Within the app, Instagram stories are placed at the top of the home page. The stories are shown with the user’s profile picture. Underneath the Instagram stories area, is the main part of the home page. This is where the posts of a user’s followers show up. The user can continually scroll to see the many photos and videos that their followers published. Towards the bottom, there is a home icon, a search icon, a new post icon, a liked icon, and the profile icon. In the search icon, a user can look at featured posts and search for accounts, locations, and tags. The new post icon is where a user can create a new picture or video and upload it to the main Instagram home page. Within the liked icon, a user can see who liked their recent post, who requested to follow them, and who mentioned the user in a comment. Under the profile icon, a user can see their profile with their profile picture, their profile information, and their published posts and stories.

There are many reasons why Instagram is one of my favorite social media sites. One reason is that I like that I can post important pictures from my life. For example, I recently uploaded a picture of my boyfriend and me with a fall background. I have posted my senior pictures, pictures with my friends and family, and pictures from the many vacations I have been on. I like that my friends and family can stay up to date with my favorite activities and who I enjoy being with. This explains that the audience of the social media app, Instagram, include family members, friends, celebrities, and overall, all the active users of Instagram. I also enjoy following influencers and celebrities. Some of the famous influencers I follow include Thomas Rhett, LaurenLuyendyk, Chris Lane, and Dani Austin. I enjoy following my favorite country singers to view what is happening in their lives and when their next concert dates are. I also enjoy viewing the stories of the influencers I follow. For example, Lauren Luyendyk lists her favorite beauty products and fashion favorites. In Figure 3, Lauren Luyendyk posted her new fashion line and her favorite styles.

Figure 3

            Instagram is an app that is trendy and used for entertainment purposes. Instagram users can view short movie trailers, Tik Toks, comical videos, and the newest fashion trends. The video limit on Instagram is 3-60 seconds which makes it nice for users to view multiple videos within a short period. Within the search icon, users can view popular videos and most liked photos. When a user sees a photo or video they like, they can just like the post by clicking on the heart-shaped button. When users like things that interest them, photos, and videos related to their interests are featured.

The purpose of Instagram is for people to make connections with other users. Through these connections, people can see the lifestyles and the world in a fun and interesting way. Users can create posts that mean something to them and in return, their followers can like, share, or comment on their posts. Also, users can follow and find certain posts or people that interest them. Instagram provides a way for people to communicate with others while being themselves. Overall, the app’s primary purpose is that users can publish and share posts about their lives and who they are with an audience.

Instagram is primarily dominated by pictures. In an Instagram post, a user can upload up to ten photos. Many of the posts published by users include one to five different pictures. The types of pictures posted on Instagram can range from a picture of the arrival of a new baby to a picture of the newest Dodge Ram truck. Instagram allows users to be immersed with new people and posts continually. If a user finds a picture they like, they can save the picture to their favorites. The intention with Instagram is to find or post the best photo or video. For example, in Figure 4, Selena Gomez is posing in a picture. Since she is a celebrity, she automatically receives a significant number of likes, comments, and shares.

Figure 4

            The social media site, Instagram uses pathos in every aspect within the app. Pathos is an appeal to the emotions of an audience and the feelings that can be evoked. Instagram’s app includes photos and videos including every emotion. Some posts are dedicated to a family member that passed away which elicits emotions of sympathy, sadness, and pity. Another example is a breakup post as pictured in Figure 5. This post explains the details of Colton Underwood, a previous bachelor, and Cassie Randolph’s breakup. This post also appealed to their followers’ emotions. There are also happy Instagram posts. An example could be a post about a couple becoming engaged. The posts on Instagram persuade uses through their reactions. Instagram users can post their life stories to gain sympathy from fellow users. Instagram is an ideal expression of pathos in that the app’s language includes “likes” and “comments.”

Figure 5

            In appeals to logos, users generally depend on an audience to offer evidence that is credible to support their argument. The evidence used is facts and qualifications. A user can publish a post that uses qualified people or sources to back up their argument to gain credibility. Posts with data or statistics are great examples of logos. Logos is a rhetorical appeal that is less common among social media sites and apps. Users could identify if a person researched what they were talking about or simply just posted to receive likes. When a user does not use logos, harsh critics can comment with counterarguments. When a user uses logos, they can understand what posts are credible, useful, and relevant. For example, a credible organization to follow would be NASA. In Figure 6, NASA explains the importance of techies. The post is about National Techies Day. The post explains that without techies, NASA would not be able to perform the many amazing things they do here and in space. NASA also gives credit to NASA at the bottom of the post. NASA is known as a reliable science resource since the organization sticks to facts and the information, they post is evidence-based.

Figure 6

            Ethos is also expressed throughout Instagram. This is a form of rhetoric that focuses attention on a user’s authority or credibility on an audience. Ethos can be expressed through a confident post, a post with the user’s listed credentials or awards, and having a good reputation. An example of ethos in an Instagram user is Oprah Winfrey. The images and the captions that she posts show the audience that she is a great speaker. She establishes a sense of trust in the audience that she posts reliable pictures and content. Among the many images she has published, many are about “Your Voice Matters” and voting. She connects with users in her posts that they have a voting plan and the dates of when early voting starts. Users can strengthen an ethos appeal by listing similarities they have with the audience. She gives credit in her one post to the website “Powered By People.”

Visual rhetoric and rhetorical appeals that impact an audience are encompassed in the popular social media app, Instagram. The social media site and app use ethos, pathos, and logos foreffective methods to appeal to users. The visual appeals in the layout, colors, and photos attract and gain the interest of many users. The app’s design allows users to communicate successfully and receive a form of entertainment. By using visual and rhetorical appeals, Instagram establishes itself as a functional, effective app.






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