New study reveals why Instagram is the next big thing

The photo-sharing site is growing faster than any of the other major social networks. Is your brand ready?

A few weeks ago I professed my love for Instagram and predicted that this easy photo-sharing app would soar. Now, new data from The Social Habit from Edson Research seems to confirm that Instagram is poised for a breakout.

Of the Americans surveyed who currently use a social media platform, only 18 percent currently have a profile on Instagram. That’s paltry compared to Facebook (94 percent) or Twitter (47 percent). But here are four reasons why Instagram could explode in 2013.

1. Of those who have a profile, 61 percent have used it in the past 24 hours, an adoption level only surpassed by Facebook at 84 percent. By comparison, Twitter stands at 55 percent, Google+ at 44 percent and Pinterest at 52 percent. Those using Instagram are pretty voracious by comparison.

2. Of all the social media users surveyed, 48 percent said they are using Instagram more often. This blows the other major platforms out of the water. Facebook was the next-closest platform in terms of expressed growth.

3. Of those who have an Instagram profile, 83 percent use it at work, again surpassing even Facebook and YouTube by a long shot. One reason could be that sharing on Instagram requires no typing. You just snap a photo and post in seconds. One of my friends ran a series on Instagram where he snapped pictures—and rated—the crazy coffee cups in his office kitchen. Inspiration is everywhere, including work.

4. Today, 67 percent of Instagram’s users are younger than 34. I project that there could be a huge upside across demographics because everybody loves sharing photos, and it’s so easy to use that even the non-tech savvy can master it in minutes. In fact, Instagram is the most user-friendly of all platforms.

There is also an intangible quality in play that I think will make Instagram a red-hot property. Instagram has an almost voyeuristic quality that is lacking anywhere else. I think this will appeal to the same human qualities that drive the popularity of gossip magazines and reality TV shows.

Of course, lots of people post photos on Facebook—along with videos, cat memes, and celebrity pictures. But there is something different, something more intimate, about how people are sharing their visual lives on Instagram. People show up less guarded on Instagram.

Most people scoffed when Facebook acquired the 11-employee, non-revenue-producing Instagram earlier this year for $1 billion. But maybe they were on to something. The platform certainly seems to be poised to take a leap forward, according to this latest data.

RELATED: A complete guide for brands on Instagram

Disclosure: I am an advisor to Edison Research on the Social Habit project.

Mark Schaefer is the author of “Return On Influence” and blogs at grow, where this article originally appeared.

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