When comparing all of the social networks available today, it's easy to guess that Facebook is still number one, and it would seem likely that Twitter would be right behind in the number two spot. At one time that was true, but the world of social media is changing. Instagram has edged out Twitter as the second most popular social media platform, and at first glance, it may seem hard to understand why.
Real-time Social Media
Twitter was born out of a desire for people to be able to share updates in real time, allowing them to have collective virtual "chats" with anyone within their network. It quickly evolved into a platform for certain users to send messages to their many followers, offering an intimate and instant connection for users that Facebook could not.
Twitter also established itself by allowing users to only receive updates from those people who they really wanted to hear from, unlike Facebook's detailed user news feed. By allowing users to define the content they receive, Twitter gave control of its platform to its users, allowing them to use it as a sort of virtual town hall, where certain users could keep in constant touch with their legions of followers.
As social media users change, so do the social networks. The Twitter of today is less about intimate chats, and more about remaining up to date with your favorite celebrities, news headlines and business associates. It has evolved to meet the needs of the busy individuals who need their news, gossip and interesting stories in quick, 140-characters-or-less bites, but even that isn't enough for some social media users.
Twitter's ease of use is also part of its downfall, since many users send out dozens of "tweets" daily, many of which don't resonate with their core followers' interests. These disposable bytes of information are too easily overlooked and lost in a sea of words as more users have to dredge through page after page of tweets to find items that they actually care to read.
How Instagram Gets It Right
Unlike Twitter, which relies heavily on words to get its users' messages across, Instagram allows them to make a statement without saying a word. Photos and brief captions provide instant gratification for busy social media users who value quality over quantity, allowing Instagram users to make a bigger impact with fewer posts.
Twitter also allows users to post photos, but Instagram's format, which shows every comment in one location, is easier to follow than Twitter's. Following a conversation on Twitter can be difficult or even impossible if you don't follow all parties involved in the discussion, but on Instagram, you get to see the full picture, so to speak.
Although Instagram has topped Twitter in the social network rankings, the social media platforms are different enough to offer plenty to a diverse number of users. Instagram's ease of use and the intimate aspect of photos has it on top today, but who knows what social media has in store for the future? Only time will tell if Twitter will see its way back to the top, or whether it will fade further in popularity.
Photo courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at FreeDigitalPhotos.net