Visual Communications Trend: Instagram Overtakes Twitter

Instagram Eclipses Twitter In Daily Mobile Traffic

  • Instagram’s average daily mobile visitors jumped from 886,000 to 7.3 million from March to August, 2012
    • That’s a 724% gain
  • Twitter went from 5.5 million average daily mobile visitors to about 6.9 million
    • That’s a 24% increase
  • Twitter’s overall mobile audience in August was about 29 million uniquevisitors
    • That compares to about 22 million for Instagram
A Photo Of Grandview Park from David Erickson's Instagram account

A photo from David Erickson’s Instagram account

THOUGHT: Marketing Land suggests Instagram’s rise has a lot to do with the publicity generated when Facebook acquired the app.

That’s an entirely reasonable assumption and I wouldn’t be surprised if it were accurate but I’d think you’d have to map new Instagram users to the time period in question to get a better handle on whether or not publicity is the reason for the jump.

Twitter is trying to become a more visual channel but its heritage is in text and its users have been trained to think of it in that way.  That’s a tough obstacle to overcome when all the trends point toward a bias for effortless mobile visual communication.

Smart phones equipped with HD cameras and broadband Internet access are quickly becoming ubiquitous, so the tools for creating and communicating visually are in place.  More importantly, though, the experience of creating and sharing visual content is much more enjoyable than writing a status update.

It takes a lot more time to tap out a status update on a virtual keyboard and even if you use voice recognition tools to avoid the keyboard, it’s hit and miss. Sometimes, your voice capture simply doesn’t make it to the server for translation; sometimes the translation is inaccurate, requiring you to manually edit your message; auto-correct, an ostensibly time-saving feature, can maddeningly turn into auto-error for some words and phrases; and don’t even bother if there’s too much ambient noise.

Contrast writing a status update on your phone with the experience of snapping a photo and sharing it online.

I took the photo above with my iPhone 4S at Grandview Park in South Saint Paul, cropped it a little, applied a filter, and shared it on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter simultaneously. Easy cheesy. And the photo is a far more powerful communications medium and if I wrote a tweet that said:

“I’m looking at a beautiful view of the fall colors & the Mississippi River in South Saint Paul from Grandview Park.”

Lastly, the proliferation of camera phones coupled with the popularity of photo apps like Instagram have made people much more conscious of the quality of photographic images.

That means consumers are becoming more sophisticated consumers of visual content and therefore organizations’ visual communication strategies need to adjust accordingly.

It’s not enough to simply present your organization visually, you must do it in a compelling manner and that means you need some in-house knowledge or expertise in creating compelling visual content. That does not necessarily mean you need to go out and hire a professional photographer but the staff who are taking photos should have a solid grasp of photographic fundamentals, like the basics of lighting and the rule of thirds.

Beyond Social Media Radio

Join me, BL Ochman of the What’s Next blog, and Albert Maruggi of the Marketing Edge podcast Tuesday night at 8:30 CST for our BlogTalkRadio show, Beyond Social Media. This week’s topics: Twitter Trips, Caribou Coffee, & Are You Happy, Really?