Just like fashion, social medias go in and out of style. A few years ago, Twitter was unstoppable. Twitter was the “it” social media and if you weren’t on it, you were severely out of the loop. But times, they are a-changing. Technology moves fast and those who can’t keep up are often left in the dust (Take a look at what happened to Vine.) Is Twitter’s reign coming to an end? Are the masses moving on in favor of other social medias like Instagram? We dig into current social media trends.
Twitter and Instagram: The quick and dirty
The premise of Twitter is simple. You make an account and post “tweets”, which are composed of 140 characters or less. Tweets can be accompanied with a picture, video, or poll. Twitter went public in 2006. The number of monthly users started to climb once it hit its stride around 2010. It skyrocketed from an estimated 30 million monthly users at the beginning of 2010 to 302 million at the start of 2015. Since 2015 though, it appears people have tired of Tweeting. The ones that already have accounts seem to be staying put. However, new users aren’t joining at the same rate they were joining at just a year ago. Twitter’s monthly user stats are dwindling in comparison to other social medias, most notably the new “It” social media, Instagram. According to experts, the average number of monthly users has leveled out since early 2015.
In comparison, Instagram launched in October of 2010 - that’s four years after Twitter launched. By February 2013, the photo-sharing social media hit 100 million monthly users. That’s only three years after they began. And experts note that monthly users continue to steadily climb. On December 15th, 2016, Instagram announced it‘s grown to a whopping 600 million users. The last 100 million users joined in just the last six months. To put that in perspective, almost 10% of the world’s population is on this social media platform, Insta.
What's causing the shift?
This isn’t something we should gloss over, these social media trend stats are impressive. It’s not a coincidence that while Twitter is struggling, Instagram has blossomed. What’s driving thousands of users every day to bypass Twitter and join Instagram?
Since other social media platforms are also seeing jumps in the number of monthly users, the social media trend data shows that people aren’t quitting social media all together. They’ve just stopped using Twitter.
Let’s look at the facts. Twitter’s kept its premise simple since the beginning. Yet it hasn’t grown or evolved as a brand over time. Looking at the changes this platform has made in the past year, you won’t see too much of a shift. Platform and site changes include a few minor visual edits. For example, the favorite tweets button has changed from a yellow star to a red heart. A Moments feature has been added. Moments are curated stories composed from a viral theme, including tweets from many authors. Twitter also rolled out a new live-streaming feature. Unfortunately, it quickly became clear that Facebook’s similar Live Video and Photos edged out Twitter’s live-streaming functionality.
The cracks are starting to show
On top of a lack of innovation, users are now starting to see very apparent cracks in Twitter’s façade. Twitter used to be the place to get eyewitness news and updates on events as they were happening. In 2013 when the Boston Marathon bombing happened, Twitter documented the aftermath in real time. It’s also been an essential tool at shining a light on Aleppo, Standing Rock, and Donald Trump’s dramatic election campaign, among other things.
However, with the help of smartphones and more accessible technology, news on social media spreads fast. Almost too fast. One crucial social media trend issue Twitter faces is it’s continually growing notoriety for spreading fake news. This incorrect information can go viral in a few hours and create a lot of miscommunication and misunderstandings. Take for instance, this claim of “paid protestors” that has since been debunked. And do you remember the completely baseless report that Harambe, a recently killed gorilla, got thousands of votes in this past presidential election.
Twitter's stance is too passive
Besides misinforming the public, there have been numerous cases of Twitter users receiving a barrage of hate from other users. Up until very recently, the company had done next to nothing to stop verbal and mental abuse occurring on the site. After Ghostbusters released, Twitter users bombarded co-star Leslie Jones with vitriolic abuse so strong that she threatened to delete her Twitter account. Jones isn’t alone. Celebrities and other well-known people have reported that they’re targets of death threats. And sadly, as a result, many have quit using the site altogether.
Twitter tried to remain neutral for the sake of keeping free speech free. But in November 2016, they attempted to combat the harassment many users experience on their site. Thanks Twitter’s changes, you’re now able to filter out content that you don’t want to see. You can also report hateful tweets, even if they’re not directed to you.
However, these new measures won’t stop the abuse from happening in the first place. In large part, thanks to Twitter’s anonymity. The true problem lies in the fact that you don’t need to use your real name to sign up for a Twitter account. Hiding behind an anonymous account, users can easily gang up and target specific people and broadcast hate speech to the world.
The new favorite: Instagram
On the opposite end of the spectrum, the new favorite social media trend is Instagram. And they seem to be doing everything right. They understand their target audience (mostly millennials), how they interact with social media, and are constantly tweaking the app. Recently, Instagram has added in a bunch of changes. These app updates completely transformed the app and how it’s used, along with a little rebranding cherry on top – their new app logo.
A huge change to the Instagram app this year was the addition of an algorithm to show you posts that would interest you first. At first, a huge backlash met this switch-up. People, especially brands, were worried that their posts would now get buried. At the time, everyone seemed to tell people to turn on notifications so they wouldn’t miss a post. Months after developers added the algorithm, it seems as if our concerns were unnecessary. Reorganizing the feed to show content that specifically targets the users’ interests has been a great change for the app.
Instagram rolled out another important update this year which contributed to their success - the addition of “Stories”. Modeled after Snapchat, a story is a photo or video you can share that disappears after 24 hours. Stories are a great way to get a more personal look at celebrities lifestyles instantly. Added filters, stickers, and texts are a way to make your stories more personal and fun.
Instagram keeps packing the punches
That’s not all the updates Instagram has made recently…there’s still more. Like Twitter and Facebook, Instagram added a live streaming option last month. Following in the steps of Snapchat again, Instagram Direct means you can send private disappearing photos and videos to your followers.
On top of all that, new safety features have been added to Instagram to ensure the user has the best possible experience. Users can turn off and on comments for single pictures at any time. And they added a new “like” feature for comments too. Lastly, there is now an anonymous reporting for self-injury posts. If you see a post from a friend that’s particularly concerning, you can report it completely anonymously. Utilizing this feature means Instagram will connect your friends with organizations that will offer help.
Rest assured, Twitter isn’t going to come crashing down anytime soon. With the rise in popularity and creation of so many more social medias, social media sites just need to get a little more competitive to vie for user’s attention. I’m eager to see what new changes both old favorite Twitter and newbie Instagram will make in the coming year.