Twitter may be driving its own users towards Instagram
Just weeks before its five-year anniversary, Instagram announced that it had 400 million users, and that 80 million photos per day are shared on the social network.
Twitter will have its 10th anniversary in less than six months from now and has 316 million monthly active users who post about 500 million tweets per day.
For a long time, both platforms seem to have co-existed happily together, but today that may not be so true. Many people have accounts on both platforms, and when the same content is placed on both platforms, it can dilute the value of the content for each platform. The fact that Instagram is now open to advertisers means that they will also be competing for much of the same advertising budget that Twitter is going after.
Of course in many ways Twitter is different to Instagram. People make short announcements, with or without links to other sources, engage in conversations and retweet tweets by other accounts. Twitter has also greatly improved the ability to share photos and videos, and this is exactly the area where Instagram is active.
If Twitter users observe their timelines carefully, they will see that an estimated 1 out of 6 tweets contain media (photos, video's or gifs). Based on a total of 500 million tweets per day, this translates to about 80 million tweets per day containing media. This is roughly the same number as the total posts on Instagram per day, and would mean both platforms are equally large with respect to content creation with media.
To get an idea of how both platforms influence each other, I followed the top 20 Twitter accounts, who all have Instagram accounts as well, from the beginning of this year until the end of September, and compared their tweets with their posts on Instagram.
EMMANUEL DUNAND/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
As individuals, they all use Twitter and Instagram quite differently. Some are mostly active on Twitter, engaging with other accounts through replies, and retweets, while some are more active on Instagram, making sure they post carefully selected pictures. On average each of these accounts sent almost 3 tweets per day during this period, and 1.2 posts on Instagram.
From these tweets, 68% were original content, 11% were replies to other tweets, and 21% were retweets.
40% of the tweets with original content contained media. From those tweets, an estimated 75% also appeared on Instagram.
Some of these tweets came directly from an Instagram app and were an exact duplicate of the original post on Instagram, and some came from a Twitter app, mostly within seconds or minutes, before or after, the Instagram post.
From Instagram's perspective, almost half of the posts also appeared as tweets on Twitter. Five out of 6 posts were first posted on Instagram seconds or minutes before they could be seen on Twitter, meaning just 1 out of 6 posts appeared on Twitter first.
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Twitter shows tweets coming from an Instagram app as links to Instagram only, with no picture or thumbnail of the media embedded. From a user experience point of view this is an awful idea and Twitter could easily embed pictures from Instagram in tweets like they do with pictures that are sent directly from a Twitter.
This also means that Twitter is driving a load of traffic to Instagram. Links to Instagram appear on almost 1% of all tweets, which would translate to 5 million tweets per day posted through Instagram.
The figures show that both platforms are intimately linked when it comes to visual content.
From the estimated 80 million tweets with media per day, probably as much as 20% appear on Instagram as well, and most of these appear on Instagram before they appear on Twitter. As a percentage of total tweets this is not large, but also not insignificant, and the trend at the moment seems to be in favor of Instagram. For Twitter this means that in the fight for advertising income, Instagram will be a tough competitor.
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