Images are more effective in communicating emotions and ideas than words.
The reason for this is two-fold; humans interpret the world through visual queues before learning to read and the human brain processes images faster than text. An MIT study in 2014 revealed that it takes as little as 13 milliseconds for humans to process a dozen images.1 When it comes to printed information, an average American adult reads five words per second.2
Instagram, the photo-sharing app, unlocks the attributes of an image to connect people to their friends, family, and brands in an unassuming way. Photographers gravitated towards the platform as a way to showcase their work, hobbyists followed suit, and so did the everyday consumer.
By the time Instagram turned one, it reached over 10 million users and grew 150 times faster than Facebook and 100 times faster than Twitter’s community — becoming a quick favorite of millennials. Before it turned two, the startup was acquired by Facebook. And, in the last two years, brands realized the magnitude of its community and rushed to participate.
As the younger generation auto-posts to Facebook, Gen X and baby boomers are becoming more exposed and enticed to material created natively on Instagram, due to the feed feature that links both accounts. Cross-platform moves by older demographics between Facebook and Instagram is a looming threat to the other visual-based platform, Pinterest, which Instagram has the edge over when it comes to mobile devices.
With 200 million monthly active users, this network is evolving to become the most engaged community on social media. Users are liking and commenting on content, while Instagram, brands, and vendors are adapting to quantify existing and new behavior. The recent launch of its analytics dashboard — for paying advertisers — will need to take @mentions of brands and friends into account as part of the quality of community engagement, in addition to reach, brand awareness, and ad recall.