Instagram – if you haven’t heard this name before then you are in a similar situation as most people were 3 or 4 years ago when only few of us heard the name Twitter. Yet, Instagram marked the one million users milestone today! A fairly amazing accomplishment, showing a massive growth in record time, consider that the app debut date was October 6th this year.
This social network may not become the next Facebook killer, but it is definitely as viral as Twitter and may even threaten the later.
So what is Instagram? It is an iPhone app for sharing photos. The application consists of 5 tabs. Share, Popular, Feed, News and yours.
Share – you can choose either to take a new photo or to pick one from your photo library. The kick is that you can select from several built-in filters to process your photo giving it a little more color, ambient, anachronism touch, and more. You can also add short text to go along with the picture.
Popular – people can Like your picture (vote for it) or add comments. If enough people likes it your picture can appear in the popular tab. This is also a way to find people to follow and to vote on more pictures.
Feed – this is a feed stream of pictures from the people that you chose to follow.
Yours – your picture stream along with the likes and comments.
News – a trace of recent information about who liked or commented on your picture
Sounds simple? Well yes, very, exactly as simple as Twitter. If on Twitter people with interesting feed stream (links, celeb, insights – thought leader) attract lots of followers, Instagram users attract lost of followers in similar ways.
Means of communication on Instagram:
- Like and comments – Like is both a signal of appreciation to one of the the pictures and a call for attention to your newly posted picture.
- Screen shot – see here how to take a screenshot using your Iphone. People write a short message in Notes, the built-in iPhone app for writing text, take a screen-shot of the note, and post it as a picture.
- @instagram-user-name - you can reference other users using the @ symbol in the same way as you do on Twitter. Doing so will generate a small pop-up message on his/her phone and will add an entry to the News tab.
So how Instagram users lure new followers?
Method #1 – after few hours using the application you’ll notice that beautiful girls has a lot of followers. Some, significantly more than others. I will allow you to come up with your own explanation for this phenomenon.
Method #2 – artistic creativity. In Instagram I found many users with great picture streams. Some due to the places that they travel to, other due to great digital photography skills, and others thanks to the numerous iPhone photography applications that comes with photo enhancing techniques and creative filters. Some due to all of these elements.
Method #3 – teaching. There are few highly skilled photographers out there that are willing to share from their knowledge explaining about different techniques and tips to their avid followers.
Method #4 – challenges. People declares different challenges like the “Sexy Photo Challenge” (check @markpalmer)challenge that resulted with more than 500 pictures of men and women in different erotic poses (no porn). People then are encouraged to vote for their favorite picture and those are reposted on the challenge organizer stream. Can you see the business opportunity here? “Nike challenge – picture your most creative shot of your most worn-down Nike pare and win a …”.
Method #5 – increasing web presence – my friend Kathryn Jones (@unsaidtv) who is producing live streamed video plays on Better Left Unsaid TV is using Instagram to share pictures from the back scene or “the making of” the play.
Side note – one of the direct impact of Instagram is the growing demands for new photography iPhone applications. People are increasingly looking for more and more interesting filters and digital enhancement features to create new stunning images. I found myself buying more and more of those. Some of the users I follow on Instagram were willing to share (via screen-shot) about their most frequently used applications. Some has lots of them. I guess that this is very good for the mobile applications development market (and Apple).
Summary – it is too early to tell what direction the Instagram team will choose to take the application at, but it is already apparent that there is a new and exiting platform that brings people to participate and communicate. It is also one of the few communities that exist outside the web and only in the mobile world (I know that implicitly there is a heavy use of the the web and data but there is no Instagram website – yet?!). Whenever there is a new communication platform (in this case Mobile social network) and avid participation, there is a room for influence, branding, and promotion. Bottom line, there is another marketing channel. However, above all, the Instagram team has provided us with a great new way to create, share, and interact with other people, i.e. to have fun!! If you decide to give it a try please stop by my Inst-stream @kerendg (same as my Twitter user name).
Robert T. Kiyosaki wrote in his bestselling book Rich Dad, Poor Dad (not an affiliate link), “Pay yourself first”. In some way, what that he meant was the opposite of treat yourself first. Basically, it was about saving money first, and after making sure that this money is invested and yields more profit, then it is OK to spoil yourself buying luxury things. There are few other good lessons in this book but lately this one resonate in my mind when I think about following others on twitter.
In order to be twitscally (fiscally) responsible I’ll need to earn new followers first before I can go and follow more.
Why do I recommend this network building approach?
- It make you motivated to come up with better content so you can get more followers and then follow more great resources.
- It helps you to build a more reliable and sustainable twitter account. I find it hard to follow twitter accounts with high follow/following ratio (i.e. way more following than followers).
- It can help you to put a value for great twitter users. Example: I tell myself that if I’ll get two more followers I could follow one more (maybe an upcoming new thoughts leader in my niche).
And, yes, it takes more time in the same way as it takes to grow your saving account, but this is the way in my mind to build valuable network. A trustworthy network that can be leveraged for influence, community building, and revenue generating. Treat your followers following spread like your equity and build it overtime. Alternatively, having a twitter account that is follows lots of people, and very few followers is like having an over extended credit card account.
Does it make sense to you? Do you follow blindly? Do you have process for deciding whom to follow?
If you like this tip and want to learn more about building high value twitter accounts for marketing, selling, networking, influence or any other purposes please consider reading my eBook: Timing the tweet
And, yes, I know that it is almost Halloween: so treat yourself to a great tweet!
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