Visual Leads The Way

With over 100 million users in just under two years, it’s clear that Instagram is a driving force in the current social media scene, and a large part of this success comes from the app’s immense popularity amongst teen users. Much like a number of other sites in the past, teens have helped pave the way for Instagram to become one of the most downloaded apps on both iOS and Android. 

As of May 2012, 23.5% of Instagram users were under the age of 18, and according to Nielsen, Instagram is the top photography site among 12 to 17-year-olds, with a million teens visiting the site in July 2012. It’s no surprise the app is so hot among youngsters – 4 of the top 10 most-followed users are teenagers: actress Ariana Grande; Kendall and Kylie Jenner, daughters of Bruce Jenner and sisters to the Kardashians; and pop superstar Justin Bieber.

This increase in teen users and the rapid incline of total Instagram users could be the result of another recent Nielsen statistic. A July 2012 report stated that “teenagers between 13 and 17 years old demonstrated the most dramatic increases in smartphone adoption,” with 58% of American teens owning a smartphone, compared to just 36% a year ago. As more teens get their hands on smartphones, the more they will be utilizing them for social media sites like Instagram and whatever they deem to be the next big thing.



So what direction are teenagers taking us now? As we look at sites that are most popular with the younger generation, it’s easy to determine that social media is continuing to head down a more visual path. From Facebook to Twitter to Instagram and Pinterest, the conversation factor of social media is gradually decreasing and user-generated photos are taking its place. 

A recent ROI Research study determined that not only do social media users enjoy their friend’s photo posts the most,  but 44% of respondents were more likely to engage with brands if they posted pictures rather than regular status updates, links, or other types of text. 

Haven’t convinced you yet?

These more aesthetically pleasing websites have also been rocketing in terms of social media market share. According to an Experian study, popular photo-sharing site Pinterest’s market share rose 5,124% in North America from July 2011 to July 2012, and Instagram’s market share increased an incredible 17,319% during the same time period.  

Additional proof of visual’s takeover of written word was just announced via comScore’s new mobile measurement report, which stated that Instagram beat out Twitter in daily mobile users for the first time ever during the month of August 2012. Instagram welcomed an average of 7.3 million daily users over Twitter’s 6.9 million. 

As visual sites Instagram and Pinterest reach the pinnacle of social media popularity, the question is now where this new image-centric trend will take us next. For the answer, look no further than that group of teens huddled around their smartphones.

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