Instagram is now used by more people than Twitter. Let’s talk about why. This post is a continuation from yesterday’s, which explored the evolution of how Twitter is used.
Twitter is great for getting news and opinions about the things you’re interested in. For example, Marc Andreesen is a fantastic person to follow if you’re interested in technology and business. Finding those people, however, is hard.
Instagram’s appeal is more immediate and more universal. It’s easier to create and find good content on Instagram, better for conversations and great to use with friends.
Getting “into” Twitter is difficult. I love my friends, but I don’t care about what they do on a real-time basis. I also love Duke basketball, but few Duke basketball players are actually interesting enough to listen to on Twitter. Finding great content on Twitter is hard.
One big reason Instagram is so much more accessible than Twitter is that images have a more immediate impact than text. Seeing is easier than reading; an image has inherent value, whereas text has to convey more than just words. Even there, creating beautiful photos with filters on Instagram is extremely easy; whereas on Twitter, you have nothing but your wits and a mere 140 characters to demonstrate it.
(We are generalizing of course — posting nice photos on Twitter today is just as easy — this is more about how people think of these two services than actual mechanics.)
Expectations for appropriate posting behavior is also different. On Instagram, the typical user would share two or three photos a day; most of them significant in some way. On Twitter, many would tweet dozens of times a day; many of a “throw away” kind. The focused, higher quality nature of Instagram is easier to digest.
Instagram is also a better social tool. All comments about an image are recorded in one place so they’re easy for people to follow and add voice to. On Twitter, conversation is fractured by who you follow. You can only see part of the debate, and only a fraction of that part will hear you back.
Are you even supposed to follow friends on Twitter? As a matter of fact, I don’t follow any of my friends on Twitter. On Instagram, following friends is an excellent and simple jumping off point.
So the time where someone thinks “this is useful” is much sooner on Instagram.
And as people get more comfortable with Instagram, they discover they can also follow those who share similar interests or have influential opinions; just as they can on Twitter. Except on Twitter, most people never get there.
Of course, Twitter has its own advantages. For example, I provide my Twitter contact for this blog and not my Instagram. It’s obvious why: the Cornerplay is about technology, entrepreneurship and gadgets; interests that rely more on words than images, so Twitter is a better fit.
For everything else — posting and finding good content, participating in conversations, socializing with friends, engaging on interests driven more by photos than by text — Instagram is better. And the things Instagram is better at are bigger.