Instagram is growing under Facebook’s wing, gaining more users than Twitter

The camera is laughing at the bird: Instagram has outgrown Twitter. The snapshot and video sharing platform has 300 million users per month, whereas the 140 character phenomenon is used by 284 million people every month.

A picture says more than 140 characters. That’s what you might conclude looking at Twitter and Instagram’s latest numbers. At any rate it’s a great milestone for the photo and video sharing service, a company Facebook bought two years ago for over 800 million dollars. Its growth during the last nine months has been particularly spectacular, with 100 million new users joining every month.

Teenagers increasingly favour Instagram, while more and more of them are giving up on Twitter. That’s not very surprising, says internet expert Danny Mekić. „Twitter has more and more text to read, and with the growing number of sponsored tweets, it gives you less control over it too. Twitter takes too much time and is starting to look too much like Facebook. That’s a competition you can’t win. Instagram is much lighter, it requires less active participation and it takes less time.”

Instagram is growing under Facebook’s motherly wing. „In that sense, Twitter is more like the poor little orphan who has to do it all on their own,” says Mekić. „I don’t understand this need to keep growing. Twitter has a clear target demographic, and should keep catering to those people as well as they can. Being big within a niche — why isn’t that good enough?”

The realisation that Twitter is not a platform of limitless potential has made it onto the stock market too. During 2014, shares have dropped by 41 percent.

Instagram doesn’t have much to worry about for now. It’ll undoubtedly run into the social media mechanism that makes a platform less ‘cool’ when it becomes too popular, but there’s no serious challenger yet.

Not even Snapchat, the platform where photos you post disappear again after a few hours, whereas on Instagram they’re preserved. „Those two can coexist just fine,” says Mekić. „Instagram for everyday photos, Snapchat for the more daring snapshots that you wouldn’t want to fall into the wrong hands. Snapchat would think twice before deciding to start seriously competing with Instagram. After all, competing with Instagram also means competing with Facebook. The biggest threat to Instagram would be the end of the ‘selfie’ fad.”

Instagram was created by the two friends Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, and was launched in 2010. 30 billion photos have already been shared on it, and another 70 million are added to that number every day. It doesn’t make much profit, although recently experiments are being carried out with photos and videos by fashion brands like Levi’s and Michael Kors.

Instagram is already incredibly popular among the younger generation, including in the Netherlands. Newcom did a study in January and found that 400,000 out of 993,000 Dutch teenagers between the ages of 15 and 19 use it every month, and 252,000 even use it every day. Snapchat scored roughly the same numbers on a monthly basis, but has less visitors per day, around 184,000.

That study also showed teenagers aren’t leaving Facebook now that Mum and Dad are on there too. Practically all Dutch teenagers aged 15-19 use it, and as many as 745,000 of them use it every day.

„Facebook, Google and Apple have become the main domains,” says Mekić. „And their teenage users attach other, lighter platforms to those main platforms.”

What they want to use is fairly clear by now, Mekić believes. „If you look it up, you’ll see there are 1.2 million apps in the app store. Just about everything imaginable has been invented by now and there’s no way you need all of those things. The question is rather which provider is going to be the top dog within a certain niche.”

That’s certainly easier if, like Instagram, you get help with everything from a parent company like Facebook.

by Martijn van Beeten for the Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad

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