The internet has brought about many changes in how people around the world communicate, especially through one of its most powerful inventions: social media. According to a recent study, internet users worldwide spend an average of over 109 minutes per day on one of the many social media platforms. Such websites and apps are increasingly used not just for social sharing, but also as means to building reputation, finding career opportunities or monetary income. As of January 2016, an estimated 31 percent of the world’s population was using social networking, with North America having the highest penetration rate – 59 percent of the country’s population. North America also placed first in a global ranking of mobile social media penetration according to geographical region.
As of June 2016, Facebook is by far the most popular social network with over 1.7 billion global monthly active users but Instagram, the mobile photo and video-sharing application launched in 2010, is quickly growing in popularity. As of of June 2016, there are an estimated 500 million Instagram monthly active users worldwide, representing a penetration rate of about 20 percent of global internet users. There are an estimated 77.5 million Instagram users in the United States alone, a number which is forecast to grow to over 116 million in 2020.
According to the company, the secret to their success is their unique visual storytelling approach to social media. Users registered with the platform can upload pictures and videos, to which they can also apply filters, frames and other effects. They can also attach captions, tags of other people/accounts, whether friends, celebrities or companies and hashtags, which make the media easy to find if one is looking for specific subjects. There are a reported 60 million photos uploaded to Instagram every day. A recent survey also shows that the social network is mostly popular among the global youth, some 16 percent of 16 to 24 year-old with internet access claiming to be using Instagram actively.