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Instagram hits 150 million user count: why you should care

Despite analysts predicting in 2012 that an Instagram move would destroy the app’s existence, they have grown more quickly in the last three months than in their three year history. Here is why you should care.

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Instagram’s major milestone

Today, photo app Instagram announced they have grown to over 150 million users with over 60 percent of users snapping shots from outside of the U.S. Founded in March of 2010, the company has seen their most dramatic growth of late, acquiring 50 million users in the last six months alone.

With roughly 60 million users in America, businesses have flocked to the simple tool to spread their message, host contests, expand their social network and influence, and give consumers a creative way of connecting with brands of all size.

Of the accomplishment, the company said on their blog, “Whether it’s documenting protests in Egypt, sharing the trip of a lifetime across the United States or snapping #petselfiez, this community continues to surprise us every day with your creativity, sense of adventure and unique perspectives on the world.”

Why this accomplishment is even relevant

User counts aren’t exactly the most reliable metric for predicting the success of an app. Studies show that an overwhelming number of people download an app, become a user, and never open the app again. Additionally, just because someone is a user does not make them an active user, one that is actually using the app.

That said, 150 million users is nothing to scoff at. So why does this milestone matter over millions of other milestones achieved in the app world every week?

Just a few short years into their existence, Facebook acquired Instagram for one billion dollars, a historic moment to say the least. Just months after the acquisition was announced, one Facebook executive hinted that the app could possibly feature ads at some point, and bloggers nearly lost their minds (we reacted via parody).

Days later, the company quietly added a note to their Terms of Service (ToS) that would allow them to sell users’ photographs in advertising without notifying or paying them, which led to tech analysts to put the app on blast, encouraging users to jump ship.

Many users did leave. Instagram very quickly reversed the ToS updates, releasing a statement that legal documents are “easy to misinterpret,” and they really just wanted to give users “an opportunity to raise any concerns.”

Unfortunately for Instagram, many users deleted their accounts, commonly switching to Flickr or simply letting their accounts become dormant (which still means they count as one of the 150 million user count, but wouldn’t count as an active user).

This dramatic turn of events late last year is why this particular milestone is relevant – many predicted the app would either die or become folded into Facebook’s photo app, but neither happened, in fact, they grew more dramatically than ever.

Why should you care?

Regardless of Instagram thriving despite the drama that led many people to predict their demise, the app continues to become a more common tool in marketers’ toolboxes.

Companies like Kohls, Sharpie, and Juicy Couture are using their Instagram account for branding and marketing purposes to acquire new customers as well as retain current, loyal customers.

Brands of all size should take note that the app is large and in charge, and thousands of brands are using Instagram as a marketing staple. Because it is a simple form of expression with a diverse user base, with a creative approach, any company can make a lasting impression on the growing community.

Marti Trewe reports on business and technology news, chasing his passion for helping entrepreneurs and small businesses to stay well informed in the fast paced 140-character world. Marti rarely sleeps and thrives on reader news tips, especially about startups and big moves in leadership.

Social Media

TikTok takes aim at Cameo while helping creators monetize content

(SOCIAL MEDIA) TikTok has a new feature that takes a swipe at Cameo, but also helps content creators to monetize their efforts more meaningfully.

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Not too long ago, an app called Cameo launched with the sole intention of connecting “normal” people with celebrities via chats and personalized videos.

These days, TikTok is adopting Cameo’s philosophy with “Shoutouts,” a feature that will allow users to request content from their favorite creators.

The allure of Cameo lies in its simplicity: One need only fill out a request form and spend several hundred to several thousand dollars to receive a custom video from a celebrity of their choosing (should said celebrity accept the request) within a week.

However, Cameo – a relatively new, relatively untested app–possesses a bit of a disadvantage that TikTok doesn’t have: It didn’t have a built-in, pre-existing audience prior to launching its core premise.

TikTok’s Shoutouts feature looks to capitalize on existing users as well as in-app currency, making it much more convenient than its spiritual predecessor.

As with Cameo, the way Shoutouts works is fairly straightforward. Users will be able to select a creator, request a certain style of video from them–the devil is very much in the details here–and then wait for “up to 3 days” to see if the creator accepts the request. Payment will be submitted at this time.

Should the request be accepted, the creator will create the video and pass it off to TikTok for review, a process that–according to the feature’s page–should take around a week to complete. The user who requested the video will then be able to view it in their DMs.

If the creator decides to reject the video, the user will receive a refund. This is a feature that Cameo uses as well, so–in theory–TikTok should be able to leverage the same ideology.

There are a couple of minor benefits to TikTok’s implementation of this feature. Firstly, while some TikTok stars may have celebrity status, it’s reasonable to assume that the majority of creators will be able to use the Shoutouts feature; this means that the aforementioned “normal” people will be able to monetize their platform, something that wasn’t possible on Cameo.

Secondly, the use of in-app currency–something that has traditionally been used for gifting livestreamers–makes the process of hiring a creator a bit more convenient. That convenience will most likely translate directly to the success of Shoutouts as it develops.

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Twitter experiments with “dislike” button in the lamest way possible

(MEDIA) Not that we would expect innovation from the halls of Twitter, but their dislike button is even less interesting than we could have predicted.

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For as long as there have been “Like” buttons on social media, the idea of a “Dislike” button has existed – if only as a concept. Recently, however, Twitter is toying with bringing the fabled “Dislike” button out of the metaphysical realm and into reality, though not for the reasons one might expect.

Twitter will be adding an “I don’t like” button to content in the coming months – but the number of dislikes something receives won’t be publicized as likes are.

In fact, Twitter maintains that the presence of this button is less of a social experience and more of a way to tailor your experience on the app to see what you want to see. This will feasibly help Twitter “??understand the type of responses that you consider relevant in a conversation, in order to work on showing you more of those types of responses.”

The button will reportedly take one of two forms: either a thumbs-down icon (next to a thumbs-up icon for likes) or a downward-facing arrow a la Reddit.

The “I don’t like” feature is currently limited to iOS users, and certainly not all of them–as an avid Twitter user, I have yet to receive the option to voice my dissent outside of the usual reporting channels. As with experiments like Fleets, voice tweets, and increased character limits, Twitter seems to be rolling out this option in small increments.

Interestingly, Twitter already has a similar feature that is available to all users, though it requires a small amount of menu digging. The “Not interested in this Tweet/Ad” option can be used to prevent tweets either from certain creators or on certain topics from appearing as frequently in your feed.

The option to block users or report tweets also still exists in case anyone needed to be reminded of that.

As long as the option to dislike tweets remains private and for optimization only, many of the concerns commonly associated with a dislike button – cyberbullying, declination of mental health, all-out civil war – are relatively moot; but, so it seems is the feature itself, given that the “Not interested” option also exists.

It wouldn’t be surprising in the slightest to see this feature eventually become public after its successful implementation.

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India’s government still pushing social media platforms to nix COVID posts

(EDITORIAL) Whomsoever controls the information controls the people, and India is proving that censorship is a dangerous path.

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Let’s take a walk through recent history, shall we? The timing is late April and the world is still attempting to control the spread of the COVID-19 Virus. Certain countries have succeeded in administering vaccines and keeping down the spread. Other’s have not. People are dying. Families are being stripped of their securities. What’s the saving grace for the majority of these people? Social media.

Platforms such as Twitter and Facebook have turned into the news distributors and social lifelines. Our generation has gotten used to things like cable news outlets being entirely one sided with their distributed factoids. It’s easier to trust people than a news monolith, even though they are typically just as biased.

Personally, I believe that we are more accepting of a person being biased because they are supposed to be, whereas companies that report news, we feel should be unbiased and when they aren’t, it’s less forgivable. However, I digress.

Social media has become the new source of news for the younger generations. We go out and take in information either from real life or from other sources and send it out into our own little virtual worlds. Every piece of this information should be taken with a grain of salt and double checked, of course. At least if the person actually wants to spread real news. They then interact and disperse news through instant communication online.

Which leads us to India, 2021.

From the standpoint of this generation, what’s been happening there is deplorable. The Government of India demanded that both Twitter and Facebook begin removing COVID-related posts. Their reasoning? These posts are “deemed posed potential to incite panic among the public.” They are restricting the freest form of communication that has ever existed in to the human race.

Now this could be something that’s innocuous, or a genuine care for the country’s people. I’m sure there are posts out there that may have incited panic. However, some of the previous actions taken by the Indian government tend to make me think otherwise. Pointedly, requests for the blocking of Twitter accounts which criticized the countries policies have gone out. They’ve even threatened jail time for employees and users in this case.

They keep claiming the country’s good but if they are only silencing dissenting voices, they’re actually just protecting their right to govern. Leading to a darker place in mind for any future actions. There are certain facts which stand however.

The Indian government has failed in a number of ways this year. The culmination of which is their unprecedented collapse of their nation’s health infrastructure. One of the only ways that some people are getting their health supplies is through social media as people communicate locations that have supplies available so they can save their lives.

The restrictions that the government is putting forth isn’t helping people. It has the potential to kill them.

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