Instagram could lead in social

22 May 2014

NEW YORK: Instagram will become the world's most powerful social platform because of its visual and mobile roots, according to a leading industry figure.

Scott Galloway, of think tank L2, made the prediction based on his organisation's collection of 850 data points across 5,000 brands' digital footprints and the innate ability of humans to absorb information in pictures.

While humans have been reading words for hundreds of years, they have been reading visuals for thousands of years and absorb visuals 50 times faster than words, he noted.

And the resonance of visuals was evident in Instagram's rapid take-up. It was the fastest growing social platform, with 200m users and its engagement of 1.5% was 15 times greater than that of Facebook.

"If you were to take a power algorithm – that being the size of the community times the level of engagement – Instagram is already the most powerful platform in the world," he declared.

Galloway's views were echoed in the Social Media Marketing Industry Report, from Social Media Examiner, which surveyed more than 2,800 marketers and found that they were increasingly turning to visual content across all platforms, but particularly YouTube and Pinterest.

The Fast Company highlighted the finding that interest in visual marketing rises with marketers' experience. Among the least experienced – those with less than 12 months in social media marketing – Instagram (15%) and Pinterest (32%) attracted relatively little use. But for marketers with one or two years' experience the use rose to 26% and 36% respectively and for those with more than five years in the industry to 47% and 66%.

As well as age, time spent on social media was another important factor in deciding to utilise visual platforms. Thus, marketers who spent more than 40 hours a week on social media were significantly more focused on Instagram (46% more) and Pinterest (37% more) than those who spent six hours a week or less with social media.

Another signifier of the rise of Instagram was the recent decision of Google, one of the most powerful and valuable brands in the world, to open an account – "another advertising vehicle" for the web giant, said The Verge.

Data sourced from L2, Fast Company, The Verge; additional content by Warc staff