Bird dropping: Instagram overtakes Twitter in the social media derby.

Instagram logo

It seems like the jockeying for position among social networks is never-ending.

The latest case in point:  Instagram, which is presently the fastest growing social media network in the United States.

According to the latest figures released by digital market research company eMarketer, as of February 2015 Instagram now has over 64 million users in America.

That’s a ~60% increase in just one year, and it puts Instagram in third place among all social networks, surpassing Twitter for the first time.

Not only that, eMarketer forecasts that Instagram will add more than 10 million additional users in the United States this year:

  • Facebook: ~157 million U.S. users forecast in 2015
  • LinkedIn: ~115 million
  • Instagram: ~78 million
  • Twitter: ~53 million
  • Pinterest: ~47 million
  • Tumblr: ~20 million

       (Source:  eMarketer and LinkedIn, February 2015.)

eMarketer also forecasts that Twitter will continue to fall further behind Instagram in the upcoming years, since Twitter’s annual growth is expected to be in only the single digits throughout the rest of the decade.

Based on the overall American population, Instagram has now a market penetration of nearly 25%.  Of course, that’s well behind Facebook, which has nearly 50% penetration.

Untitled-1But Instagram’s user base is skewed heavily towards teens and millennials – people between the ages of 12 and 34.  This makes Instagram a bit more of a threat to LinkedIn and even Facebook than you might think at first.

Facebook’s user base has been skewing older in recent years.  If those trends continue, we could see a measurable drop-off in Facebook’s share of users, with a corresponding rise in Instagram’s penetration.

Of course, we mustn’t forget that Facebook was the social media network of choice for younger people at one time, too.  After all, it got its start on college campuses.  But now that Facebook has solid adoption among older Americans (age 40 and over), no longer does it seem like a “cool” network for some millennials and teens.

So it would be foolish to assume that Instagram is a slam-dunk to continue to be the “network of choice” for younger people in the years hence.  One never knows what new network might suddenly appear on the horizon and capture their hearts.

Still, Instagram’s rise has been noteworthy.  And it certainly puts the lie to the notion that there wasn’t room for a new network to enter the increasingly crowded social media space and make a big splash.

Personally as an “aging boomer,” I don’t have an Instagram account, and neither do most of my acquaintances.  What about your own personal experience or professional experiences with this network?

Is our hyper-connected world changing us for the better, or the worse? Pew looks for answers.

One of the great questions about the digital and interactive age is how it may be affecting the way people fundamentally think and behave.

The Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project has been studying this question, too. In late 2011, Pew queried a group of technology experts and stakeholders and asked them to prognosticate on the impact of hyper-connectivity on today’s younger generation.

It is the fifth in a series of surveys conducted by Pew on “The Future of the Internet.”

The question posed to these experts was: Looking out to the year 2020, will the younger generation’s “always-on” connection to people and information turn out to be a net positive or a net negative?

And the consensus response to this question is … no consensus at all. In fact, the experts broke down in roughly equal camps on either side of the issue.

The optimists believe that:

 The brains of teens and young adults will be “wired” differently from their older counterparts … but this will yield positive results.

 They will not suffer any notable shortcomings as they cycle quickly through work-related and personal tasks.

 They will be more adept at finding answers to questions, and will be learning more precisely because they can search effectively and access collective information in cyberspace.

An equal proportion of experts holds a decidedly less optimistic view of the future. Their opinion is closer to this:

 Even though teens and young adults will be “wired” differently than their older counterparts, they will not become more knowledgeable as a result.

 They will use cyberspace not to become better informed, but to be “faster” informed.

 Instead of becoming better educated and better informed, they will depend on the Internet and mobile devices to deliver quick results, with little retention, introspection or further study.

 They will spend most of their energy sharing short social messages, being entertained, and being distracted away from a deep engagement with knowledge and with people.

Here’s a link to the Pew report summary, and the results are well worth reviewing.

As for my own view, it seems to me that the environment we’ll see in 2020 is probably somewhere in between these two posts.

It’s true that many people will interact with digital technology in ways that have little to do with any sort of hard, intellectual labor. But is that so different from what we’ve seen in society in general over the past half-century?

There are thought leaders. There are thought consumers. And then there are the clueless. The digital tools and techniques people choose to use just make it easier to play in whatever league they wish.

It reminds me of that old adage about the three types of people found in the world: Those who make things happen … those who watch things happen … and those who wonder what happened. (And there are precious few people who fall into the first group.)

The fact is, no degree of Internet connectivity and social interactivity is going to change fundamental human nature. It doesn’t matter whether we’re hyper-connected or not.

… But let’s hear some different perspectives from others …