Instagram announced Wednesday that there are now about 300 million monthly active users of its photo app. According to CEO Kevin Systrom, Instagram users, 70 percent of whom come from outside the US, share more than 70 million photos and videos daily.
The announcement confirms that Instagram, a photo- and video-sharing app, has surpassed Twitter only nine months after it announced that it hit 200 million users. Twitter announced recently that it has 284 million active users.
Instagram’s 100 million increase in active users in the last nine months is equivalent to an active user base growth of about 50 percent, compared with Twitter which, in the same period, added only about 38 million new and active users.
It is also estimated that Instagram has more active users than LinkedIn. Although LinkedIn does not publish data about its active users, it is known to have about 331 million accounts, Fortune reports.
But Instagram remains much smaller than the social media behemoth Faceook, which has over 1.35 billion monthly active users. It is also smaller than Facebook’s Messenger app, which reportedly has about 500 million active users.
The phenomenal growth of Instagram in comparison with Twitter comes despite initial concerns that its acquisition by Facebook would compromise vision and growth performance. These fears have been shown to be wrong, at least so far.
Instagram’s enviable success hinges on the increasing popularity of photo and video posts on social media. Video, in particular, has emerged as the fastest growing medium on social media and service providers are scrambling to keep up with the demand.
The New York Times notes that the growing demand for video has seen other social media giants, such as Facebook and Twitter, evolving their feed in recent times with more focus on video content.
Twitter is looking to build its Vine video service.
The dominant visual nature of Instagram, compared with Twitter’s text-centric format, is widely considered to account for the relatively high level of engagement of users with the medium.
Systrom said that after having achieved a stable growth rate, Instagram is now focusing on consolidating the credibility and authenticity of its platform. To achieve this, it plans to launch a program that provides verification badges for the accounts of celebrities, brands and athletes so that fans can avoid following parody, fake and spammy accounts.
Twitter and Facebook already have programs for verifying profiles.
Systrom also said that Instagram is now going out aggressively to actually delete spam and fake accounts rather than merely deactivating them. What this means is that accounts that have been identified as fake or spam will no longer be included in users’ follower list and counts.
The menace of fake accounts is particularly acute for brands. Recently, Nexgate, a social media security company, estimated that up to 40 percent of Facebook accounts posing as one of the Fortune 100 companies have not been verified. The company also estimated that about 20 percent of Twitter accounts claiming to represent Fortune 100 accounts have not been verified.
“As more people join, keeping Instagram authentic is critical — it’s a place where real people share real moments. We’re committed to doing everything possible to keep Instagram free from the fake and spammy accounts that plague much of the web.”
Another major challenge facing the app is introducing filtered feeds, a challenge that Twitter also faces. As users follow more accounts they will tend to reach a point where they miss posts by close friends, relatives and favorite celebrities. There is concern that this could discourage people from following more accounts, making it challenging for new Instagram users to build followership.
“Instagram can engage generations of people that may not be on Facebook yet.”
More than any other social media, including Twitter, Instagam has been able to exploit the popular appeal of celebrities and athletes. The most popular image on the social media site in 2014 was Kim Kardashian’s wedding photo, posted in May 2014, which received 2.4 million likes. The second most liked was a selfie posted by Justin Bieber with Selena Gomez. It received about 1.9 million likes in the first three months after which it was posted online.
Facebook purchased Instagram in September 2012. Facebook bid $1 billion in April and concluded the purchase deal in September 2012.