Instagram Debuts New Features

Like sharks, forward movement is crucial to the survival of social networks. Fierce competition and fickle consumers demand constant innovation — facts that Facebook and its Instagram unit know full well.

Trying to maintain its enviable momentum, Instagram just debuted several new features, including 5 additional filters, the ability to upload slow-motion video, and real-time commenting. Per the latter innovation, users no longer have to refresh their feeds to see new comments.

Also, Instagram users now have the option to adjust their photo's perspective using the adjust tool, and personalize their tray of filters.

Better cameras on smartphones encouraged Instagram to come out with its latest batch of filters, which have names like Slumber, Ludwig and Perpetua.

“Since Instagram launched four years ago, the capabilities of the cameras on our phones have vastly improved,” a company spokeswoman said on Tuesday. “The original Instagram filters compensated for lower image quality, giving you more control over the look and feel of a photo. These new filters are more subtle — taking advantage of higher image quality, while still giving you a simple way to capture the mood, tone and feelings of the moment.”

Instagram recently surpassed 300 million active users, who are collectively sharing more than 70 million filtered photos every day, according to internal figures.

Among other implications, the growth figures mean that Instagram is officially bigger than Twitter, which reported 284 million monthly active users at the end of the third quarter of the year.

Domestically, Instagram has closer to 52 million monthly users, by eMarketer’s estimate. Of those U.S. users, 78.8% are between the ages of 12 and 34.

All together, analysts said Instagram’s growing audience presented a very attractive proposition for advertisers.

“With 300 million monthly users, Instagram’s audience is becoming very attractive to marketers, especially brand advertisers, and its rapid growth will only make it more appealing,” Debra Aho Williamson, principal analyst with eMarketer, said last week.

As Instagram continues to grow, content discovery is becoming an even bigger priority, Kevin Systrom, CEO of Instagram, said last week. “We’re focused on helping you discover photos and videos from people who you care about, whether it’s a friend or your favorite musician,” Systrom explained in a blog post.

To that end, Instagram recently launched a People tab on its Explore page, which highlights interesting accounts to follow. It also recently launched improvements to its search service.

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