Lately I have noticed an upswing in the number of people that are using Instagram, particularly in the Gen Y and Gen Z audiences. Just like when a new bar pops up and it becomes the hottest place to be, it seems people also get bored with social networks and I’ve noticed a number of young ones who are getting fed up with Facebook and all its complication, and preferring a more simplified social channel that they have found in Instagram – the photo-sharing network.
Started by Kebin Systrom and Mike Krieger, both Stanford University graduates with a passion for technology in October 2010. On February 27, 2013, Instagram announced that they had 100 million active users, only two and a half years after first launching.
So what is it?
Essentially Instagram is a photo-sharing tool – a fun way to share your photos across social networks. With the app – you can apply different styles, borders, and designs to transform it in to a retro, professional or fun image and also give an image a ‘like’ (a heart icon on Instagram), comment or add status updates with the upload of the image, including hash tags.
To get started with Instagram:
1) Download the free app onto your phone or tablet, set up an account with Instagram (yes it let’s you connect with existing social accounts which saves on filling in laborious forms)
2) Choose a username that clearly represents your brand if you plan on using it for business, or you as an individual. For consistencies sake (and your memory) it is a good idea to select the same username as you use on other social networks.
3) Add a profile photo, short biography and a link to your website.
4) Connect your account to Facebook, Twitter and any other third-party sharing sites where you have an account (Profile > Edit sharing settings) which will allow you to share photos to those services, including your brand’s Facebook page if you are an Apple iOS user (they hope to make this feature available for Android in the future). Connecting your accounts will also let your Facebook friends find you easily when using their Find Friends tool (Profile > Find Friends > Twitter). It will also create a news story in Instagram for anyone who follows you on Twitter/Facebook and has connected his or her Twitter/Facebook account to Instagram.
One mighty impressive buy-out
In 2012 Facebook purchased Instagram for a reported $1 billion in stock and shares. Why? It has been said ‘he or she who owns the images and video content on the internet, owns the internet’.
So in buying this business, Facebook made a very strategic move to capture a fast growing social network, that featured a growing number of the world’s images, which links into their own network beautifully, and cunningly, which they well know that a lot of their younger audiences are defecting to. In short, either way you look at it, Facebook has their bets hedged when it comes to retaining the trend setting younger audiences.
So how young can users be on Instagram?
Surprisingly I know quite a few parents who will exercise the age limit in terms of whether they permit their child to use social networks such as Facebook, but will hand over their phone or tablet, complete with the Instagram app, and perhaps even know they are using Instagram, perhaps thinking that it is a ‘safer place’ and ‘nothing can go wrong’.
In fact this could not be further from the truth. Instagram does not have the capability to secure your privacy settings to the point that Facebook allows, and it is not all that difficult for your teenager to locate inappropriate material on Instagram.
Go ahead and conduct a search of something relatively mundane within the search bar of Instagram on your phone, and you may find some naked bodies floating around on normal hash tags.
Now I’m in no way trying to scaremonger you. As you will know if you have read any of my other articles I am a HUGE FAN of social networking and in fact encourage their use. They are very much a part of life now and I do believe that Instagram can be a very creative and positive social network for teenagers and adults alike.
The moral of this story is rather that if you have social networks loaded on your phone or tablet, and are willing to hand over your phone or tablet for family use, it is a good idea to understand them at an intimate level first (training may be required) so you are aware of potential situations and how to handle them.
See these Helpful Tips for Parents from Instagram for more: http://help.instagram.com/154475974694511/