by Lolade Odeyemi
When a picture is taken in this new era of social media platforms, the first thing that readily comes to one’s mind is to upload straight to ‘Instagram.’
Surprisingly, this unstoppable and contagious trend only began some few years back with just a few random picture posts, a few likes, a few comments, a few followers and just like that, there was no other place people would rather share their pictures.
Frankly speaking, a picture is worth a thousand words and in the case of Instagram; it is worth even more than thousands of words at the moment.
More than anything else in the present social media terrain, Instagram users are committed to building large followers’ base from creative and exciting pictures and video posts.
Before it’s widespread, the platform was just a little ‘get-away’ for many celebrities from other crowded social media networks. It was just another exciting platform for posting images, applying filters and having the liberty to link them to other platforms like Facebook, Tumblr and Flickr, before it metamorphosed into a massive community of people across the globe connected by pictures.
In the wake of its boom, American celebrities, especially Kim Kardashian, among several others, inadvertently became ambassadors of the platform, where she posted a series of interesting pictures that drew traffic from her large fan base.
Following its official launch in 2010, Instagram has today become the world’s largest and most popular online mobile photo sharing and video-sharing social network that enables users to share pictures and videos with their followers and other users, either through a private or public account.
In its five short years of existence, Instagram has recorded tremendous growth from its humble beginning, and the CEO, Kevin Systrom, who is just as amazed as many social media pundits and the industry at large, said: “Over the past four years, what began as two friends with a dream has grown into a global community.”
The social media platform, which is undoubtedly nothing short of a global community, began development in San Francisco, United States, when Systrom and Mike Krieger chose to focus their multi-featured HTML5 check-in project, Burbn, on mobile photography.
With this, the platform confined pictures to a square shape, similar to Kodak Instamatic and Polaroid images, in contrast to the 4:3 aspect ratio typically used by mobile device cameras and this development brought about the name ‘Instagram’ a coinage from “instant camera” and “telegram”
Since inception, Instagram has been tagged a major rival of micro-blogging platform, Twitter.
Although they are two entirely different platforms, they both allow users to communicate succinctly with their followers in a similar way.
While Twitter, which was created in 2006 by Jack Dorsey, Evan Williams, Biz Stone and Noah Glass remains a social network which enables users to post 140-character messages called “tweets”, Instagram is more of an effortless yet thrilling platform, restricted to the uploads of majorly pictures with short captions and short videos with the duration of 15 seconds.
However, a major similarity between both platforms is the ‘hashtag,’ which was initially prominent on Twitter. Although Instagram was launched without this feature, in January 2011, it added ‘hashtags’ to help users discover both photographs and other users.
While Twitter rapidly gained worldwide popularity, with more than 100 million users who in 2012 posted 340 million tweets per day, the platform is today gradually bowing to the pressure of Instagram, which recorded over 100 million active users as of April 2012 and over 300 million as of December 2014, trumping twitter’s 284 million figure reported in October for its third-quarter average in 2014.
Despite the fact that Twitter pre-dates Instagram by four years, its recent sluggish growth pace is raising concerns among investors after the company went public in November 2014.
Commercially, Twitter has over the years remained a very viable platform for revenue generation especially for online businesses, through the promotion of posts and adverts by influencers on the platform.
Twitter also accommodates more features in terms of texts, pictures and links that build traffic for commercial purposes, nonetheless, however, the very simple Instagram has given the former a run for its money items of subscriber base.
Suffice to say that Instagram’s success is riding on the common phrase ‘less is more’ as its simplicity has left social media lovers eating out of its hands.
Although Instagram has not generated as much revenue as its counterparts, companies, businesses and celebrities are endeared to the platform for the promotion of their brands and operations, as no one wants to be left out of this rapidly growing community.
There are also some very hopeful forecasts that the service will become a substantial money-spinner with its growth rate, leaving Twitter in the struggle of maintaining and increasing its user base. Just nine months after recording 200 million users in 2014.
Instagram has vehemently declared that 300 million people use its photo app monthly, with 70% of them coming from outside the US. This makes the platform officially bigger than Twitter.
With this steady growth, the photo app is gunning for verified badges for celebrities, brands, and athletes in order to strengthen its authenticity and avoid issues of fake or look-alike accounts.
This tactic helped platforms like Facebook and Twitter and in the case of Instagram, many users desperately trying to grow their following, and make Instagram’s new ‘Explore’ tab more trustworthy, will covet the badges.
From the looks of things, there’s no stopping Instagram which has remained strong for four years amid fears that the acquisition by Facebook would tamper with its success.
The platform now boasts of 70 million photos shared each day and thanks to the network, people from across the globe now have access to series of digital photo albums from different people.