Opinion: Move over Twitter? Why Instagram will be the next big social media platform

by Mark Schaefer

But there is just something different, something more intimate, about how people are sharing their visual lives on Instagram.

A few weeks ago I professed my love for Instagram and predicted that this easy photo-sharing app would soar. Now, new data from The Social Habit seems to confirm that Instagram is poised for a breakout.

Of the Americans surveyed who currently use a social media platform, only 18 percent currently have a profile on Instagram. That’s paltry compared to Facebook (94%) or Twitter (47%). But here are four reasons why Instagram could explode in 2013.

  1. Of those who have a profile, 61% have used it in the past 24 hours, an adoption level only surpassed by Facebook (at 84%).  By comparison, Twitter stands at 55%, Google Plus 44% and Pinterest 52%. So those currently using Instagram are pretty voracious users by comparison.
  2. Of ALL those social media users surveyed, 48% declared they are using Instagram more often.  This blows the other major platforms out of the water. Facebook was the next-closest platform in terms of expressed growth.
  3. Of those who have an Instagram profile, 83% use it at work, again surpassing even Facebook and YouTube by a long shot. One reason could be that sharing on Instagram requires no typing. You just snap a photo and post in seconds. One of my friends ran a series on Instagram where he snapped pictures – and rated — the crazy coffee cups in his office kitchen. Hilarious! Inspiration is everywhere, including work.
  4. Today, 67% of Instagram’s users are under the age of 34. I project that there could be a huge upside across demographics because everybody loves sharing photos and it’s so easy to use even the non-tech savvy can master it in minutes. In fact, Instagram is the most user-friendly of all platforms.

There is also an intangible quality in play here that I think will make Instagram a red-hot property. There is an almost voyeuristic quality to Instagram that is lacking anywhere else and I think this will appeal to the same human qualities that drive the popularity of gossip magazines and reality TV shows. Of course lots of people post photos on Facebook … along with videos, cat memes and celebrity photos. But there is just something different, something more intimate, about how people are sharing their visual lives on Instagram. People show up less guarded on Instagram. I can’t really explain it, but it rocks.

Most people scoffed when Facebook acquired the 11-employee, non-revenue-producing Instagram earlier this year for $1 billion. But maybe they were on to something. The platform certainly seems to be poised to take a leap forward, according to this latest data.


Mark Schaefer is an advisor to Edison Research on the Social Habit project.



Op-ed pieces and contributions are the opinions of the writers only and do not represent the opinions of Y!/YNaija.

Comments (2)

  1. Hmmm, I happen to think otherwise…

    First, Instagram is only available on select mobile platforms (ios & Android). The exclusivity of Instagram is part of its appeal (especially to it's younger audience). If they expand, that goes away, if they don't expand, they limit their growth.

    People can access Facebook, Twitter & other social networks from so many different platforms. You don't have to have a specific device or even an internet connection, you can send updates to Facebook & Twitter via SMS.

    Furthermore, I happen to see the aquisition of Instagram by Facebook as a purely strategic move. No one buys a company with no revenue and low revenue potential for a billion dollars. Prior to the entry of Twitter, Facebook was the one stop shop in terms of social sharing (photos and statuses, links, messaging, etc). When Twitter came in, and with all the changes that Facebook started implementing, it pushed people away and they could share their lives on another social network that had more appeal.

    Facebook still had somewhat of an edge/ leg-up in terms of their photo sharing features combined with everything else they offer but when Instagram started becoming popular in the mobile sphere, Facebook saw that as a threat because they had been trying to increase their usage through mobile platforms. If you search "Facebok" in the Apple Appstore, they have at least 3 applications (1 regular facebook mobile app, one strictly for photo sharing that looks EXACTLY like Instagram, and one for messaging).

    No longer would people care to upload entire albums to Facebook when they could do so easily and share in a fun quirky way on Instagram. The aquisition was purely to protect themselves from becoming completely obsolete in the social media world. Even if people decrease their Facebook usage due to Instagram, they own it now so they still have the power.

    I find it extremely odd that Facebook has an ios photo sharing app that is literally a dupe of Instagram. I'm not sure if they released this before or after they acquired the company (I think it was after) but it just seems odd.

    Anyways, I think Instagram is cool but I don't think it will be "the next big thing" per se even though it already has a lot of buzz and growth. The things that make Instagram appealing, exclusivity and simplicity will push users away if they expand in the wrong direction or make drastic changes.

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