Five Instagram Alternatives for Photographers

Instagram’s popularity with photographers is incomparable. What is essentially a free portfolio building app disguises itself as a powerful marketing tool to connect with prospective clients, but it suffers at times due to its sheer size and scope. Maybe you’re bored of sieving through lame #goals and #inspiration posts, and want to know what mobile friendly alternatives are out there? Well folks, I’m here to tell you.

Flickr

Before there was Instagram, there was Flickr. And for many of us, this was our first online portal to have ones photography critiqued. Similar to Instagram, Flickr is a photo sharing platform but has more effective search tools, especially online. There are similarities in following and being followed but does not have the same mass audience as Instagram. Most of the feedback, positive or otherwise, will likely come from other photographers rather than prospective clients. That being said, top Flickr talent is seldom ignored, and the platform has launched many a career in the world of fine art and conceptual photography.

Flickr has strong organization tools for your images, being able to bring together collections into “Albums” rather than having just one feed. Flickr also has a “Groups” section that are open-sourced public albums. This is a nice way to find collections of images of similar topics, themes, gear, or geography, but these “Groups” are too often messy, unfiltered, and unorganized.

Flickr’s most effective use is to inspire, with plenty of talented photographers using this platform on a regular basis. The curated “Explore” page is always great place to start.

Flickr adds and removes service fluidly whilst it looks to attempts reclaim ground in the photo sharing world. It’s failings in the past were down to it’s late arrival in the mobile app platform, and whilst it’s mobile app continues to improve, this is very much a desktop first application, and mobile second.

500px

500px has long been popular with the photography community with it’s clean approach to photo sharing. No hashtags muddle this pond, 500px is all about sharing great work. Curated collections are excellent and regularly updated, whilst the Exif data upload is a nice touch to delve into the technical workings in-camera (Flickr also has this function). There are plenty of similarities with Flickr in terms of it being a platform angled towards promotion of the best creative work rather than popular accounts and sponsored posts.

This is certainly an excellent alternative to Instagram, the main downside would probably be that highly saturated, HDR images seem to make up large proportion of curated lists which can lead users to be rather formulaic in their attempt to gain popularity on the site rather than being original. The reach to the masses is also no way near Instagram levels so some of your work is likely to be ignored completely.

SW/NG

Polaroid’s resurrection continued in 2016 with the release of their social multimedia platform SW/NG, and I’d put it down as one of the most under-rated social mobile platforms around. Forget Instagram Boomerangs, SW/NG brings pictures to life much in the same way Live Photos does on iPhone. Using the app feels similar to Instagram with the continued scroll of your feed, but pictures move as you scroll. The app feels cleaner than Instagram, and encourages users to think differently when composing an image given that a moving subject or background is more compelling.

Pickup for the app has been slow, and I’m sure this is disappointing for Polaroid, but I implore them to continue to update the app and promote this alternative take on social media. One obvious improvement would be the ability to upload Apple Live Photos to the service rather than only being able to use the in-app camera, thus limiting what you can upload to the present moment.

EyeEm

If you’re a great photographer and don’t need that Insta-ego massaged on a daily basis, then why not make some cash off the time spent using a photo sharing platform? EyeEm does this in two ways.

Firstly, you can make all of your images available for purchase through the EyeEm app. EyeEm do this via Getty, take a handsome cut for the trouble, and you must have model and location releases as per other stock photography selling sites. But I must hand it to the EyeEm team, it is wonderfully simple to submit your photography for review to go on sale, and the app itself is enjoyable to browse.

Secondly, there are regular competitions or “Missions” with specific briefs. Prizes come in various forms such as being published in an exhibition, having your work used in commercial campaigns, or cold hard cash. This is a great way for marketing teams of commercial brands or exhibition curators to hunt for new, enthusiastic talent. This gives any aspiring photographer the feeling that the playing field has been leveled, and if the quality is there, then you wont be ignored.

Steller

My American cousins would describe this selection to be “out of left-field” and rightly so. Steller is more of a story sharing app, and at it’s best combines excellent photography paired with engaging narratives. Stellar’s story building tools are template based, simple to use and make your content look slick very quickly. It has a similar feed scroll feel to Instagram, but clicking on a title page lets you delve into an in-depth project rather than just a collection of hashtags and comments.

It’s full of inspiration, it’s clean and it’s wonderfully simple to use. If you are looking for a unique way of to publish a collection of images and give them an editorial feel very quickly, Steller is the place to be. Steller has also been slow in building an active following, but much like SW/NG, I hope that the developers persist as there is certainly enough room in the market for well thought out image sharing apps like Steller.

Instagram Dominates Influencer Marketing (Report)

99.3% of influencers said Instagram was a great place to connect with community and brands

 

Influencer marketing is one of the few areas of digital marketing with the power to sidestep the increase of ad blocking. But there’s a lot more to influencer marketing than that. An annual report from Hashoff, a micro-influencer marketing platform, examines the recent changes in the field.

The 300 influencers who responded to the survey are heavily engaged on social media. 56 percent spend at least four hours per day on social media, and more than 20 percent spend in excess of seven hours per day on social sites.

Only 12 percent of influencers surveyed indicated that influencer marketing is their only form of employment. Most others reported having a full- or part-time job in addition to their influencer work, and more than one-quarter of the respondents were students. This indicates that influencer work is contract-based and short-term.

However, the part-time nature of the work is not an indication of the quality of content. More than one-quarter of the survey respondents spend up to three hours on a piece of content from idea to production, and about 10.5 percent spend up to five hours per piece. More than one-half of the survey respondents percent spend 10 to 60 minutes per piece of content, likely because of the style and limitations of the platforms most influencers use.

Nearly all of the survey respondents said Instagram was their No. 1 platform for influencer work, citing community and opportunities to connect with brands as the driving factor for this choice. In fact, Instagram and Facebook seem to have consolidated as the main hub for influencer marketing, and Hashoff expects this trend to continue into next year.

Still, there is some indication that influencers plan to reduce their dependence on Facebook and Instagram and use other platforms even less. Instead, more than 8 percent of influencers plan to make YouTube their No. 1 platform next year—perhaps a reflection of the growing influence of video in digital and social media.

Instagram Stories is stealing Snapchat’s users

ood enough and convenient. That’s proved a winning strategy for Instagram’s clone, according to a dozen analytics providers, social media celebrities, and talent managers who told TechCrunch they’ve seen a decline in Snapchat Stories usage since Instagram Stories launched on August 2nd.

Most reported declines in Snapchat Stories view counts ranging from 15 to 40 percent, and a reduction in how often they or those they monitor post to Snapchat Stories. Meanwhile, our sources report rapidly growing view counts on Instagram Stories, and engagement-to-follower rates one social influencer talent agent called “Insanely f*cking high”.

The success of Instagram Stories, the decline in Snapchat usage we’ve heard from a wide array of sources, and Facebook’s relentless drive to compete with the startup could spell trouble for Snapchat’s IPO on the NYSE market that’s expected in March. Snap Inc declined to comment for this story.

Here’s how the social media content industry sees the impact of Instagram Stories on Snapchat.

 

Instagram Vs Snapchat

 

“Everyone is posting way less. Some are not posting at all anymore” on Snapchat, says the CEO of a social content production studio about the dozen social media stars they represent.

Several sources refused to be named in print for fear of retaliation from Snapchat or because they weren’t authorized to disclose client data. But across the social content production firm’s stars, the CEO says there’s been an average decline in Snapchat Stories views of 20 to 30 percent from August until mid-January.

In the 25 weeks since launch, Instagram Stories has reached 150 million daily users. That’s the same number of users that Snapchat’s whole app reportedly hit around June 2016, after seeing swift growth from 110 million daily users in December 2015, Bloomberg reported. Snapchat hasn’t announced a higher number since, nor has one leaked, despite it trying to impress potential investors during its current pre-IPO roadshow.

Snapchat is expected to publicly file to IPO this week, and that might include some larger stats. But the consensus from our sources is that they’d be higher if not for Instagram Stories, and Snapchat’s long-term growth, especially internationally, will be hindered by the competition.

Analytics Provider Shows Widespread Snapchat Decline

“Overall, from August to November 2016, the average unique viewers per Snapchat Story has decreased about 40%” says Nick Cicero, CEO of creative studio and social video analytics platform Delmondo. His company analyzed 21,500 Snapchat Stories to discover the steep decline.

Delmondo saw roughly a 40 percent decline in unique viewers across 21,500 Snapchat Stories analyzed from July (100%), before Instagram launched Stories, through November. Graph updated with Y-axis.

Delmondo saw roughly a 40 percent decline in unique viewers across 21,500 Snapchat Stories analyzed from July (100%), before Instagram launched Stories, through November. Graph updated with Y-axis.

 

Meanwhile, influencer marketing platform TheAmplify’s CEO Justin Rezvani says “On average our influencer community is seeing 28 percent higher open rate on Instagram than Snapchat”, referring to view count.

As for downloads, App Annie shows Snapchat saw a big drop right when Instagram Stories launched at the beginning of August. It fell to its lowest ranking all year, #11, after hovering in the top 3 for the first half of 2016. It’s unclear why it bounced back at the end of October, but it’s begun to slip again. [Update: Instagram experienced a dip in August download ranks too, which we’re investigating.]

snapchat-download-ranking

App Annie shows a steep decline in downloads for Snapchat when Instagram Stories launched at the start of August

Removing Auto-Advance Added Friction To Snapchat

snapchat-story-playlist

Without Auto-Advance, you have to manually select Snapchat Stories to watch in a Story Playlist

One thing that’s important to know as we review these reports is that Snapchat removed its Auto-Advance feature on October 7th, so users could no longer instantly watch every Story in their list in a row. Instead they had to manually select Stories to load as an ad hoc Story Playlist (pictured here), though there’s a little-known way to select all Stories with by tapping the triangular dot button.

This change should have directly caused some drop in views since Snapchat users aren’t being shown Stories they’re less interested in, which they might have fast-forwarded through while still triggering view counts. Snapchat marketing and analytics company Mish Guru’s CEO Thomas Harding says that in October when Snapchat removed Auto-Advance, a selection of its client accounts that have been posting consistently saw an immediate 9.64% drop in views.

You could argue that the remaining views are more intentional and therefore more valuable. But the change also made it less convenient to lean back and watch a day’s worth of Snapchat the way you used to on Snapchat and can on Instagram thanks to its Auto-Advance feature. And several sources think that’s leading some users to open Snapchat less overall.

Stars See Snapchat Views Down 15 to 30 Percent

Social talent agent Charlie Buffin who represents some former Vine stars says one of his top creators was averaging 330,000 views per day on Snapchat in late 2015 until June 2016. But by December, they were receiving 205,000 to 250,000 views per day.

“It is clear to us that regular users’ Snapchat usage/engagement have gone down significantly since the release of Instagram Stories” writes Buffin. He also noted that “Snapchat removing the Auto-Advance feature has affected the natural ‘binge-watching experience’ for consumers, which is really cutting into views for creators.” But Snap Inc doesn’t seem to care. “Snapchat has always remained distant from its creator community, which is not a strong move for the company” Buffin concluded.

snapchat-ad-deck

Snapchat shows ads between people in your Stories Playlist, so its revenue for this ad product depends on large numbers of viewers

 

One star, Hannah Stocking, saw her Snapchat Stories views fall from 150,000 on August 16th to 90,000 on January 17th. That’s despite massive growth on other platforms like YouTube, and Instagram where she rose from 1.2 million to 4.3 million followers in the same time frame. “Her Instagram Story numbers are growing faster than anything right now” says John Shahidi, founder Shots Studios, the Justin Bieber-backed selfie app and video creation startup that represents Stocking.

Media marketing and business development agency Fighter Interactive’s CEO Kwasi Asare tells me “Snapchat opens have gone down a minimum of 15 percent for some big social media stars.” He sees the removal of Auto-Advance as mistake, saying “Snapchat messed up by letting people choose whose stories they view individually. Instagram has more of a flow where it allows you to watch the stories of everyone you’re following.

Asare also believes Instagram’s clone has quickly risen to equal status with teens, noting that “Most kids are starting to post on Instagram or Snapchat, and then post on the one they didn’t post on first.”

Influencers Crave Instagram’s Reach

Social talent media company Galore’s CEO Mike Albanese says “Influencers that were late to build an audience on Snapchat pretty much abandoned the platform because it was so much easier for them to reach more people through their existing audience on Instagram Stories.”

Snapchat doesn't have an Explore tab to promote social stars the way Instagram does here

Snapchat doesn’t have an Explore tab to promote social stars the way Instagram does here

That said, he was the only source we asked who said that they’d seen growth in Snapchat views, though that was for “top Snapchat influencers” like models Val Mercado and Sahara Ray, and actress Ava Allen who he says pour a ton of effort into Snapchat and heavily promote their account through their other social presences. But he believes “there are less Snapchat Stories being published on a daily basis overall versus August of last year.”

A leading social media talent company’s co-founder tells me that amongst the stars they work with, “Almost all of them are down about 20 to 25 percent on Snapchat” since August.” One of their creators was seeing 75,000 opens per Story in August, and only 50,000 now. Another went from 50,000 to 30,000. Meanwhile, the stars are seeing 6 to 10 percent of their Instagram followers opening their Instagram Stories each day, which the co-founder called “really f*cking high”.

“Marketers are dedicating more resources to Instagram because you can’t grow on Snapchat. Now there’s a lot of campaigns we don’t even need to do on Snapchat.”, they say. “The only way to grow is from [cross-promoting on] YouTube or Instagram. Snapchat is making some of the same mistakes as Vine. They aren’t embracing creators. They want to be private messaging.” In contrast, Instagram promotes social media stars and helps them grow their Stories views by featuring them on its Explore tab that Snapchat lacks.

Then they gave perhaps the most damning quote we heard. “Everyone has forgotten that Instagram Stories is a Snapchat clone.”

Raining on Snapchat’s IPO Parade

 

These industry reports build on a mountain of anecdotal evidence about Instagram stealing Snapchat users that I’ve heard online and from my network, and seen in my own usage and view counts.

It seems Facebook has finally found way to challenge Snapchat after multiple failed attempts since it turned down the social giant’s first acquisition offer in 2012. Poke, Slingshot, Bolt, and Flash all flopped as standalone apps, while baking Snapchat’s best features deep inside Facebook seemed to have little effect.

But by putting a Snapchat clone front and center atop Instagram’s feed, the Facebook family of apps discovered a way to make its version more convenient to use than the original. And emboldened by Instagram’s success, now Facebook is testing similarly designed Snapchat clones in its main app as Facebook Stories, and its chat apps as Messenger Day and WhatsApp Status.

instagram-600m-2016-12

Snapchat lovers are exporting and syndicating their Stories to Instagram for extra reach. Those who’d only recently gotten into posting Snapchat Stories are finding it easier to watch and share on Instagram where they already spend time and have built a social graph. And people who’d never tried Snapchat but were intrigued by Stories are finding Instagram is good enough that there’s no need to sign-up for Snapchat.

It’s that last one that might be most threatening to Snap Inc’s IPO. We’re already seeing how Instagram is eating up Snapchat usage, reducing the Stories views it depends on to drive ad revenue. Yet what matters to Wall Street is growth potential. Ad-driven social networks need massive scale, which usually comes from international domination.

That can’t happen if Instagram, Facebook, Messenger, and WhatsApp deliver the Stories feature to foreign countries where Snapchat hasn’t gained traction already. Around 80 percent of Instagram’s 600 million monthly users are international. And if Instagram Stories continues on this trajectory, it could prove bigger than the app it copied.

As I wrote a week after the launch, Instagram Stories castrated Snapchat, even if it can’t kill it. Snapchat will continue to have a lively user base, though Instagram may inhibit its continued expansion.

snap-inc-hardware

Snap Inc tries to reposition as “a camera company” with a Spectacles pop-up store in NYC

 

Reports from social media celebrity managers and analytics companies that work with big accounts may present a more dire outlook than what’s going on with average teens on Snapchat. Kids under 25 in the US who are completely immersed in Snapchat might not stray. But Instagram may be convincing the 25 to 35-year olds who came of age on its app to stick around, while it’s swooping on international teens before Snapchat gets popular in their market. Plus, vanity dictates that people will share where they get the most views, and many people have spent years longer building their Instagram audience.

Going Public With A Different Story

With its future in broadcast social media under fire, Snap Inc may need to tell a different story for its IPO. At the least, it might have to concentrate on touting its average revenue per user rather than its scale.

It has spent the past quarter repositioning itself as “a camera company” that makes hardware like its Spectacles camera-sunglasses. It’s also tried to double-down on the app’s first feature, disappearing private messaging, by adding a groups feature and improved navigation. But scrounging together hardware profits and monetizing chat directly can be quite challenging.

In six months, the game has changed for Snapchat, and not in its favor. Once the undisputed king of cool amongst Western teenagers with the potential to disrupt the world’s biggest social network, it’s now in danger of becoming just one of several popular apps for ephemeral storytelling.

Food photos help Instagram users with healthy eating

Instagram users post millions of food photos — whether to show off a sophisticated palate, make friends drool over chicken and waffles or artfully arrange colorful macarons.

A new study from University of Washington researchers describes how some people also turn to posting photos on Instagram to track food intake or to be held accountable by followers in meeting healthy eating or weight loss goals.

In a paper to be presented at the CHI 2017 Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems in May, the researchers conducted in-depth interviews with 16 people who consistently record and share what they eat on Instagram about the benefits and challenges of using the social media platform to achieve their eating and fitness goals. The research team will use the results to inform the design of tools to support healthy behaviors.

Instead of simply using a traditional food journal or app that requires users to write down or log everything they eat, the interviewees snapped pictures of what they ate in a day — from bowls of healthy fruit to the burrito they scarfed in the car — and shared them on Instagram using the #fooddiary or #foodjournal hashtags. Some also used the photos as a reference so they could remember to log their food later in the day.

“The benefit of photos is that it’s more fun to do than taking out a booklet or typing hundreds of words of description in an app,” said lead author and UW human centered design and engineering doctoral student Christina Chung. “Plus, it’s more socially appropriate for people who are trying to track their diets to snap a photo of their plate when they’re out with friends — everyone’s doing it and it doesn’t look weird.”

Plus, having a visual account of everything one eats in a day — both in terms of volume and quality — can help people spot trouble.

“When you only have one data point for a pizza or donut, it’s easy to rationalize that away as a special occasion,” said senior author Sean Munson, assistant professor of human centered design and engineering at the UW. “But when you see a whole tiled grid of them, you have to say to yourself, ‘Wait, I don’t actually have that many special days.’”

The interviewees said that social and emotional support from other Instagram users helped them stick to their own tracking and healthy eating goals, and many strove to provide that support for others. In some cases, feeling accountable to other Instagram users and followers caused people to be more honest about their eating habits. One woman who previously used the MyFitnessPal app to track her diet said she would make excuses to herself about why she didn’t need to log a bag of chips because it was so tiny.

“With Instagram, it helped me because I was taking a picture of it — it’s real and it does exist and it does count towards what I was eating. And then putting up a visual image of it really helped me stay honest,” the user said.

Because Instagram allows one to create different accounts for different purposes under the same user profile, people reported that they could easily find communities and followers with similar interests by using food tracking, weight loss or healthy eating hashtags — and could avoid overwhelming friends and family who weren’t interested in seeing pictures of everything they ate. That differs from Facebook, for instance, which doesn’t allow for multiple accounts or identities.

“With Instagram, you can have a separate part of your profile dedicated to food journaling and you don’t have to be worried that your family member or neighbor who just wants to see pictures of your dogs or vacations will be turned off,” Chung said. “It’s not funneling everything to the same channel.”

People did report some tensions between wanting to remain honest about what they ate and feeling reluctant to photograph food that would be perceived as undesirable.

But users who ultimately met their weight loss, eating or fitness goals also found that remaining on Instagram — and helping mentor and encourage others — made it easier for them to maintain their desired behaviors and to continue to be mindful about their health, the study found.

“Maintenance becomes pretty boring for a lot of people because your quest to hit a goal has worn off,” Munson said. “This made things more interesting and meaningful for people because after they got to their goal, they turned to thinking about how they could help others and stay accountable to people who were relying on them for support.”

The research was funded by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, a University of Washington Innovation Research Award and Microsoft.

Other co-authors are human centered design and engineering doctoral student Elena Agapie; Paul G. Allen School of Computer Science & Engineering doctoral student Jessica Schroeder and associate professor James Fogarty; and Information School doctoral student Sonali Mishra, all from the UW.

5 Ways to Improve Your Instagram Game

Did you know that Instagram had 600 million monthly active users as of December 2016 and is currently the fastest growing social app?

Visual storytelling is now key to a successful marketing strategy – consumers devour everything visual, from beautifully crafted images to cinemagraphs to video. And with 77% of Americans using smartphones to find great content while they’re on the go, visual marketing is the most effective ways for prospects and customers to engage with your brand without having to slow down and read a gazillion word post.

And Instagram is a great platform to do it.

Here are five tips on how to improve your Instagram game and maximize the opportunity

Here are five tips on how to improve your Instagram game and maximize the opportunity.

1. Advertising

All businesses can advertise on Instagram with photo ads, video ads and carousel ads.

Instagram ads will have a Sponsored label at the top and a call to action button at the bottom, which can be either ‘Learn More’, ‘Download’, ‘Install App’ or ‘Shop Now’

5 Ways to Improve Your Instagram Game | Social Media TodayA great way to grow brand awareness with Instagram advertising is by focusing on a specific design aesthetic for all of your imagery. As users scroll through their feeds, they’ll learn to recognize your ads by the look of them.

2. Know Your Message

Consumers are attracted to brands they can identify with, so knowing what your brand stands for and telling that story consistently helps cement your authority. Now do that with attractive images and video and your followers will keep coming back for more – because you’re no longer a company to them, you’re a brand that enhances their lifestyle.

Patagonia’s Instagram page is a great example of this.

With 2.5 million followers and a mission statement that takes no prisoners, they know their brand’s values and their target customer, and they use stunning visual marketing to show how their products align with both.

3. Leave Breadcrumbs

You can use geotagging to add your location to your photos and help people find your physical location. You can also add custom hashtags and/or your Instagram handle to your posts so that other users can tag you when they share them – this enables their followers to click on those hashtags to find you, while also helping you keep track of the content they’re responding to.

Birchbox is a company that grew up with Instagram so they know the importance of the hashtag – it enables them to interact with their fans through likes, comments and sharing.

4. Offer Unique Content

Think outside the box – how does your product or service lend itself to an unexpected story?

Is there a holiday you can tie into? A slice of history? A discovery in space?

Check out how GE uses visuals to offer stories that both inform and delight their fans, while also tying everything back to their brand.

And now that you can share posts which include up to 10 photos, you have an opportunity to create longer visual stories that appeal to consumers who don’t always want to see an ad.

5. Create a special deal for Instagram Users 

One popular way to connect with your followers is by offering a coupon code for a product or service to anyone who follows or interacts with your Instagram account.

In December 2015, Starbucks held their #RedCupContest where they asked their customers to post images celebrating their iconic red cups.

5 Ways to Improve Your Instagram Game | Social Media TodayThe top five photos were awarded a Starbucks gift card, preloaded with $500. Today, Starbucks continues to kill it on Instagram with a combination of customer-centered focus and catalog-style imagery that draws the eye and keeps people scrolling through their page.

By combining great stories with appealing visuals on Instagram you can grow your brand’s recognition and customer engagement quickly. As with all social platforms, the key is focusing on the human aspect of the brand by offering unique content, a clear message and consistent interaction.

Instagram Just Hit 600 Million Users and Is Growing Even Faster

Achieving this milestone before a purported Snapchat IPO is good news for Facebook investors.

Instagram hit a surprising milestone today. The photo- and video-sharing app hit 600 million monthly active users. This achievement highlights how the app has turned into a key social property for Facebook and emphasizes Instagram’s lead over competitor Snapchat.

Instagram Fb

IMAGE SOURCE: INSTAGRAM.

Accelerating growth

What’s particularly notable about Instagram hitting 600 million users on Thursday is the period in which the company added its last 100 million Instagrammers. The service’s monthly active users increased from 500 million to 600 million in just six months. As Recode’s Kurt Wagner pointed out, this marks an accelerated growth rate compared to Instagram’s growth of 100 million users about every nine months during the couple of years leading up to this period.

Instagram’s impressive growth puts the spotlight on Facebook’s overarching knack for growing its social networks.

The company’s core social network, Facebook, has continued to exceed expectations when it comes to user growth. Hitting 1.79 billion monthly active users in Facebook’s most recent quarter, the massive figure was up an impressive 16% year over year and 4.4% sequentially. Further, Facebook’s daily active users on its core platform were 1.18 billion in Facebook’s most recent quarter, up 17% year over year and 4.5% sequentially.

Facebook’s messaging platforms Messenger and WhatsApp have grown impressively during the past year as well. These services have seen their monthly active users increase from 700 million and 900 million, respectively, to over 1 billion each during the past year.

Facebook Social Networks Last Reported Monthly Active User Count Q3 2015 Monthly Active Users
Facebook 1.79 billion 1.56 billion
WhatsApp Over 1 billion 900 million
Messenger Over 1 billion 700 million
Instagram 600 million 400 million

DATA FOR TABLE RETRIEVED FROM FACEBOOK’S THIRD-QUARTER 2015 AND 2016 EARNINGS CALLS AND FROM INSTAGRAM UPDATES ON MONTHLY ACTIVE USERS. TABLE SOURCE: AUTHOR.

For comparison, Twitter‘s monthly active user growth slowed drastically once the company hit 300 million monthly active users. In Twitter’s most recent quarter, for instance, the social network’s monthly active users hit 317 million, up just 3.3% year over year and 1.3% sequentially.

Instagram can thank Snapchat for its growth

For Instagram’s recent success, Facebook has Instagram to thank. In August, Instagram essentially copied Snapchat’s Stories format when it introduced Stories on Instagram. Instagram’s Stories, like Snapchat’s Stories, enables users to piece together a string of photos and videos throughout their day into a story for followers to view for 24 hours.

 

Top Instagram Updates You Need to Know – April 2017 Edition

Compared to most other platforms, which only roll out updates every so often, it’s particularly impressive. It could also indicate the ever-increasing value Instagram offers to both users and businesses alike.

In this Instagram Update, we’re going to go over the new streamlined disappearing messages, the wider release of the Shoppable Instagram features, and a quick (but important) update to Instagram Live.

Are you ready to know all the details?

 

Streamlined Disappearing Messages

Instagram and Facebook have both been stepping up their Snapchat game, especially with the new Facebook stories and Messenger Day. Instagram’s most recent development is their new Direct, which is their private messaging platform.

It’s been updated so that everything is more streamlined; regular private messages, shared posts, and disappearing photos and videos will all seamlessly show up in the same thread.

You can access your direct messages by swiping right on Instagram. To the left of the “Write a message” field, you’ll see the Instagram icon in blue. You can click on this to send a disappearing image or video. To send a non-disappearing image or video, click on the image icon to the right.

So how does this affect businesses? For one, we may be one step closer to a full-on Instagram take-over. I don’t think Snapchat will be fazed out entirely just yet because of its loyal audience, but we will start seeing more users drop off.

This feature can be used to create urgency and drive sales quickly. You could, for example, send a discount code or information about a flash sale, especially as an incentive to actions you want your users to take (like commenting on a particular post). You’ve got to use it before it’s gone, and since users can only replay the image once, it could help you get a lot of sales quickly.

As an added bonus, since disappearing content is streamlined into the regular messaging, users can reach out and ask you questions quickly, giving you the chance to start a conversation with potential customers.

Shoppable Instagram: Wider Release

Shoppable Instagram features were announced sometime around last October or November, and we’re finally seeing some movement in its development and release. While most businesses still don’t have access, a lot more do—and that’s a big step.

At the very tail end of last month, Instagram rolled out the feature to a large number of beauty, jewelry, and apparel brands. From the information at hand, it doesn’t seem like you have to pay anything to use this feature; it’s similar to tagging a photo, just with your product information.

 

These posts show up with the “Shoppable” icon in the bottom corner of the image, and will prod users to “Tap to See Products.” When you click on the tag, users can see basic price and name information of the item. Users can only see product tags on mobile devices.

When they click that information bubble, they’ll be taken to a more complete description of the item, accompanied by a “Shop Now” button. If they click the CTA, they’ll be taken to the brand’s site to purchase

We can also now tag pictures with a single product if we have a product catalog synced to our Instagram account.

Instagram Live: Now Saved

One of the only downfalls of Instagram live (in my quite humble opinion) was the fact that once the broadcast, the video was done and gone forever.

There were still plenty of benefits to using Instagram Live—especially considering the reach boost—but the lack of permanence made it less ideal. Why would you want to waste a big announcement or an interview with an influencer if you couldn’t reap semi-permanent results from it?

Instagram Live broadcasts can now be saved onto your camera roll. After the broadcast is over, save it to your phone, and then upload it as a regular video post. If the video is too long for Instagram, you can take it straight to Facebook instead. Either way, you can now save your valuable live broadcasts, allowing you to build momentum from them and drastically increase their visibility and engagement.

If you don’t have this feature yet, update your phone; it’s currently only available for iOS and Android phones.

 

INSTAGRAM SECURITY: HOW TO TURN ON 2FA AND PROTECT YOURSELF FROM HACKERS RIGHT NOW

 

If you haven’t enabled two-factor authentication yet, we’d recommend getting it done as soon as you can.

Instagram introduced two-factor authentication a year ago, but it’s just started rolling out to more users, according to a new report.

The security feature, also known as 2FA, is designed to make it harder for hackers to break into your account.

With 2FA enabled, you’ll be required to enter an authentication code – sent to you via text message – in addition to your email address and password.

Therefore, even if a hacker managed to steal your login details, they wouldn’t be able to get into your account without that code.

Android Police reports that 2FA on Instagram is now rolling out more widely on Android devices.

If you haven’t enabled two-factor authentication yet, either on Android or iOS, we’d recommend taking a few moments to get it done as soon as you can.

Simply take the following steps:

  • Launch settings
  • Select Two-Factor Authentication in the Account section
  • Tap the toggle button to enable 2FA
  • Wait for your six-digit authentication code and enter it when prompted

WhatsApp recently introduced two-factor authentication too, though users need to have the latest version of the app in order to turn it on.

Facebook, which owns both WhatsApp and Instagram, went a step further by introducing support for security keys earlier this year, becoming the first major social network to do so.

Here’s Your Instagram Guide to Coachella — Even If You’re Stuck at Home


Day 1 of the 2014 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival at the Empire Polo Club on April 11, 2014 in Indio, Calif.

More than 200 million people now use Instagram Stories, the social media outlet announced Thursday (April 13), and in celebration of the milestone, Instagram is introducing new Stories features that allow users to interact with their friends and followers in a more creative way — just in time for Coachella.

One new feature is the selfie sticker, in which users can take a mini-selfie, apply different frames and then put the completed selfie sticker on other photos. Additionally, Chicago, London, Madrid and Tokyo are getting their own geostickers designed by local community members.

Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival kicks off weekend 1 on Friday, and because the festival is particularly known for its Insta-worthy glamour, here is a Coachella guide to Instagram, tailored specifically to digitally navigate you through Indio’s two biggest weekends.

Who to follow if you’re at home during Coachella

If you were dying to hear Kendrick Lamar rap “HUMBLE.” live or see whether Lady Gaga was a proper replacement for Beyoncé but are stuck on your living-room couch instead, fear not. There are plenty of Instagram accounts to follow, and doing so could feel the same as being there — without the sweltering heat or the inevitable development of a week-long desert cough.

Both Coachella and Instagram will be posting real-time updates and behind-the-scenes content on their accounts for both the homebodies and concertgoers to enjoy.

Some of this year’s top performers like DJ Khaled (@djkhaled) and Lorde (@lordemusic) are all about the ‘Gram, and their posts are sure to be entertaining. Other good accounts to follow are headliners Kendrick Lamar (@kendricklamar), Radiohead (@radiohead) and Lady Gaga (@ladygaga), as well as Kehlani (@kehlani), Gucci Mane (@laflare1017), Tory Lanez (@torylanez), Tove Lo (@tovelo), Chance the Rapper (@chancetherapper) and Martin Garrix (@martingarrix).

How to make the most of your Coachella Instagram Story

If you managed to actually get tickets for the festival — which sold out in less than three hours — props to you. While you’re there, using filters on the Instagram Story tool can take your social-media game from basic to uniquely curated to highlight your experience.

Instagram Live is a good way of recording a whole set for your at-home followers, and you can use the new “hands-free” mode to take a video without having to hold down the record button the whole time. So your thumb can rest while you sway along to Lorde’s new song.

Since stories disappear after 24 hours, be as candid as possible. And be sure to tag your location with the new weather and time-stamp stickers, because everyone knows a Coachella post doesn’t count unless your followers know you’re there.

How to condense your multitude of potential posts

In just one weekend, concertgoers will have three different outfits to share, not to mention the stages, Ferris wheel and other colorful sights the festival sets up. Instead of posting 20 separate photos, using the album feature could be useful — and probably less annoying to your followers.

You can share up to 10 photos and videos in a single post, but good luck narrowing down from the 500 options on your camera roll.

Last year’s most popular filters at Coachella were Ludwig, Crema, Slumber, Amaro and Valencia. This year, maybe try Lark, Reyes or Juno, which are some of the more subtle newest filters. Bringing down the intensity might even allow you to get away with a #nofilter look. Your secret is safe with us.

Instagram now works offline…but only on Android

The offline mode also allows for the liking of photos, comments, saving, following and unfollowing and is expected to launch on iOS soon

Sometimes it just isn’t possible to snap an Instagram post and upload it straight away. It may be because you’re in a rush, or because the idyllic scenery you’re shooting is so remote there isn’t a data connection.

The Facebook-owned company is looking to address this problem across the platform by adding an offline mode, and it has begun testing the feature on its Android app.

Announced at the Facebook F8 developer conference, Instagram said the mode works by downloading content over a data connection when you’re online and ‘storing’ these posts so they’re available when the app is offline. This preloaded content is available on the main Instagram feed, explore tab, your profile and those profiles that have been recently looked at.

The offline mode also allows for the liking of photos, comments, saving, following and unfollowing. When a data connection is re-established, the actions made will be uploaded to Instagram’s servers. Screenshots from Android Policeshow the app providing messages saying you’re offline and the actions will be “updated when you’re connected”.

This means posts and comments can be made when browsing the app but they will only be uploaded when there is a data connection – either through mobile networks or Wi-Fi.

Facebook’s apps work in a similar way, and you may have seen the message “you can still post while offline” when using the social network.

At present, Instagram hasn’t made it possible to upload images as new posts in the offline mode but there is the potential for this to be added in the future. There also isn’t support for Instagram stories at present, which may be due to the large amount of dataused by the feature. Instagram is said to be “exploring moving the offline mode to iOS devices in coming months, too.

The offline modes in Instagram and Facebook have specifically been developed for countries where internet access may be limited. Instagram has previously said around 80 per cent of its users are outside of its US base.

Instagram isn’t the only firm developing its platforms to use less data. At the start of April, Twitter introduced a new web app called Lite, developed in coordination with Google. It was designed for the mobile web and focuses on improving the quality of service for areas with limited connectivity.

With Lite, Twitter also introduced a web data saving mode that only downloads images and videos if they are clicked upon by the user. A similar mode is available on Instagram.