Multimodality on social media — is it beneficial?

Olivia O’Rourke
6 min readMay 9, 2022


Exploring how multimodality is beneficial for journalists in the digital age of reporting news.

By now I’m hoping, as this is my fourth article post, that you have had some time to explore my social media accounts that I regularly use alongside this blog to repost or share my own thoughts on breaking news stories in the celebrity realm.

Over the past few weeks, I have taken to these social media accounts to explore multimodality and how this affects user interaction and engagement.

Multimodality — “is a concept introduced and developed in the last two decades to account for the different resources used in communication to express meaning.” This can combine the different semiotic resources such as still and moving images, speech, writing, layout, gesture, and or proxemics.

To put this simply, multimodality is a modern way of making stories more interesting by using different modes of communication. Language alone isn’t enough to entice a modern audience so I have explored a different way of producing Instagram stories to try and target a more multimodal approach to my follower interaction.

Photo by Souvik Banerjee on Unsplash

Over the last few weeks, I have taken to my social media accounts to explore multimodality, by interacting more with stories and posts whilst also creating my own posts designed to provoke a variety of different responses to test user interaction with more interactive posts.

I chose to focus mainly on Instagram stories; the photo-sharing app allows personal or professional accounts to publish multiple photos or videos onto a story so that all the information is available in an interactive slideshow. In 2017, the 24-hour limitation of posting stories was resolved and changed by the introduction of a highlights section. If you aren’t familiar with Instagram or the highlights tool take a look at the image below…

The highlight section of my account @oliviaorjourno

The image above shows how my multimodal posts appear on my profile, it proved to be beneficial for me as it meant my stories could gain interaction outside of the 24-hour window that was initially designed for Instagram stories.

I enjoyed using Instagram as my preferred method of posting stories, and I used Canva in order to create the interactive posts. I found that using vibrant colours, bold text and moving images created far more user engagement on my profile, particularly my stories as that is where I targeted my focus.

Seeing the posts I created on my account began to allow me to understand the success of Instagram as a social media platform, and the particular importance of creating interactive content as a journalist for gaining better interaction!

Below are a selection of my Instagram stories, and the interactive versions can be found on my Instagram highlights!

My main focus was adding something to increase interaction, so I began to conduct polls and ask for replies to my questions in the form of placing a question box onto my posts. It created a dialogue I didn’t expect with my followers (and non-followers too) by opening a positive discussion about current celebrity news which I felt was a completely different response to merely reposting a headline or creating my own basic headline for stories.

I compared reposting and adding my own comments to pre-existing posts to the interactive stories I created and received little to no reaction with the former, it highlights just how relevant multi-modality is in today’s technological based society. We are now vast consumers of news, and have de-sensitised to anything plain and simple; meaning something that is designed to grab out attention is far more desirable. It means incorporating multimedia elements into storytelling which I feel I did well relation to my style of journalism.

Millennials as a generation prefer to view news digitally which pinpoints the importance of the digital aspect of story telling and multimodal media, it also makes reference to how because of the digitalisation of news we have a far shorter attention span, and often what is produced has far less shock factor than before due to the constant live updates of news.

Statistically, over 500 million people use Instagram stories on a daily basis and this shows how important the impact of a stand out story is in gaining viral attention, but also again showing how the importance of a multimodal digital presence is in reaching a vast audience.

The second image in my selection of Instagram stories represents a poll I conducted on whether my followers (on my personal account) kept up with celebrity news or not.

I found polls most beneficial as they created a double-sided conversation that was different from the conventional one-sided conversation that stories and articles have always had.

I conducted this poll on my Instagram account as I have around 4,000 followers and was interested to see the results on the post versus actual engagement.

From my interactive post, I received over 2,000 responses whereas my previous engagement on stories was usually around 1,500 views.

It supports the idea that multimodality is beneficial as a tool for journalists, and with the combined variety of posts on both personal and professional accounts gaining far more interaction it emphasised to me how important posting interactive things of value was for educational purposes and the benefits for journalists.

However, there are elements of multimodality I didn’t include in my stories…

To increase interaction further in future, or as a guide for others who have so far used the methods I have and want even more engagement, I would add audio visual elements like a video to my story as I feel this places all multimodal elements into one so would be great for increasing an audience!

Another great method for accounts with over 10,000 followers is the swipe up feature, which takes the user to another interactive link. As I don’t fit into the category of having that many followers it wasn’t something I could test out for myself.

Both of these aspects can add to the increased interaction techniques I have discussed throughout this blog post and are particularly useful for journalists moving into the digital realm of news stories.

Overall, researching and applying multimodality to my Instagram has changed my perception of Instagram as a tool for journalists, the value I now place on Instagram for this purpose has massively changed. This is because of the engagement I repeatedly received, the fact it was so consistent was important when changing my opinion as it made me understand if I remained consistent with my posting I was bound to gain a large following genuinely interested in the content of my page.

Let me know what you think in the comment section, or through my Twitter, Facebook, or, Instagram.



Olivia O’Rourke

Welcome to my blog that delves into current and broad issues around #journalism. I hope you enjoy my posts :) Twitter and Instagram: @