June 20, 2013

Instagram, Vine, and the evolution of social media

Today, Facebook announced it will let users take and share short videos by way of Instagram, its photo-sharing app. This feature will likely compete with Twitter’s popular new short video application, Vine.

Social networking has grown faster and changed more than any other internet activity during the lifespan of the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project. Let’s look at the facts:

When Pew Research first started asking about social networking site use in February 2005, just 8% of internet users—or 5% of all adults—said they used them. Today, 67% of online adults use social networking sites.

In November of 2010, we started examining Twitter users, finding that 8% of online Americans used Twitter—that number now stands at 16%. We continued to measure how social networking users and platforms grew and evolved, examining issues such as the social impact of technology, why Americans use social media, Facebook “power users,” and the individual platforms themselves, like Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr. These relatively new platforms are very clearly on the rise—13% of online adults now say they use Instagram.

In a survey last year, we found that 46% of internet users post their original photos and videos online, and 41% curate photos and videos they find elsewhere on the internet and post on image-sharing sites. This is where Vine and Instagram’s new video service fit in.

Overall, 56% of internet users do at least one of the creating or curating activities we studied and 32% of internet users both create and curate online content. The creators, or those who post original photos or videos tend to be younger. The curators, or those who take photos or videos that they have found online and repost them on sites designed for sharing images with many people, tend to be women and younger adults.

During this time of social media growth, there was another set of tools evolving: mobile. As of May 2013, 91% of American adults have a cell phone, and 34% of American adults own a tablet computer. And now, for the first time, more than half (56%) of the American population owns a smartphone. This change has been directly tied to the evolution of pictorial side of social media because smartphones come with cameras and enable easy sharing of pictures and video.

Of course, the Instagram video-sharing announcement will not be the last word on social media’s evolution. In the coming years, we envision asking questions about adoption of wearable tech, like Google Glass.

Topics: Social Media

  1. is the Web Coordinator at the Pew Internet & American Life Project.

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1 Comment

  1. Barry Wellman10 months ago

    Nice post

    Reply