For quite some time it has been apparent that Instagram is the fastest growing social network. Anyone with a pulse knows that Instagram is the “talk of the town” when it comes to middle school, high school and college students. Andrew Watts, a teenager, discusses the importance of Instagram within his demographic. If you ask any college student what social network they engage with they will say they have Facebook but they use Instagram.
As we progress in 2015 it will be very interesting to see if Instagram can continue to grow at a rapid pace. At this point, we are seeing students spend hours a day looking at, liking and commenting on photos. Some students are finding that this is the social network to share their daily and weekly activities.
Why is Instagram So Popular?
This one is very easy. Instagram is where the “cool kids” are and there is some exclusivity. Unlike other social networks, Instagram does not allow users to share links with each update. This means there are no social media experts trying to get you to click their link for “How to Increase Engagement and Get More Followers on Instagram”. There is also an absence of random accounts trying to get you to click the link for “Making Money Online Working From Home”. Avoiding this garbage is very important for the younger audience that doesn’t care about making money online at that stage of their lives.
For quite some time I have stated that Google+ made a huge mistake by allowing clickable links as soon as the network opened to the public. Every other social network started and grew without clickable links. When Facebook first started it was just sharing updates, statuses and photos. There was no opportunity to share links. Twitter was the same way. In fact, there was a huge push for “shortened links” because of the 140 character limit on Twitter.
Instagram started as a stand alone photo filter app. When it became a social app the company was smart to keep out clickable links. Both Snapchat and Yik Yak are now extremely popular college apps and part of the reason is there are no links. If Instagram continues to offer a beautiful iPhone and Android app without links I think it will be a very important part of the social media growth cycle.
Will Instagram Continue to Grow?
At this point, the only way Instagram can continue to grow at such a rapid pace is to add a new demographic. We have seen that almost all middle school, high school and college students have Instagram. The company is not going to see much more growth when it comes to the student market. Instagram will likely have to add the adult crowd which means more parents.
As Andrew Watts mentioned in his article, part of the joy of Instagram is knowing your parents are not there to monitor you. If this changes, look for college students to start using Snapchat and Yik Yak much more. I think we are already starting to see this trend. Instagram isn’t going away anytime soon but if mom and dad starting sharing #mcm and #wcw pictures you are going to see students roll their eyes and roll their way right out of this app.
Facebook will do whatever they can to continue to push the growth of Instagram. With Facebook growth all but gone the company is looking to other outlets to add users. Facebook has been known to buy applications to add users in the past. Instagram and WhatsApp are perfect examples of this. In the coming year, it will be interesting to see the growth of Instagram. Is it parents and businesses trying to promote products? If so, look for the a change in the way Instagram is being used.
What Will Be the Next Social Network?
Personally, I think we are going to see social networks that are much smaller and more focused. Maybe there will be a sports social network for only college football fans. Maybe there will be a social network for those that love to eat healthy food. Facebook has become too difficult to find people of similar interests. While my friend John may like college football he is also extremely opinionated about politics. I don’t want to see his opinion about Hillary Clinton but I do respect his analysis of the national championship game.
This means we will be more than willing to follow someone with a much more focused social media account. You see this on Twitter all the time. The accounts that are devoted to one TV show or one sports team do much better than personal accounts that are all over the place. Look for this trend to continue as we will see social networks devoted to one particular interest. Can you imagine a social network for only Kentucky basketball fans or Alabama football fans? They are coming.