Words by Ben Foreman
In it’s second largest-ever acquisition deal (superseded only by it’s purchase of Whatsapp for $19 billion), Facebook purchased Instagram, along with its 13 employees, for $1 billion in April 2012. Since then, active users have grown from 100 million to 150 million, and the investment appears to keep paying off for Facebook; but who are these users, and when will they jump ship like they did with Bebo, MySpace and Facebook?
One must only look at the Instagram accounts of 14-year-old youngsters to work out where all the insta-buzz lies. There is little doubt that young-users are favouring Instagram over the likes of Facebook and Twitter.
To demonstrate my point, the progression in ‘likes’ concurrent with retrogression of age can be considered. For the first time in a while I put my brain in to maths-mode and can now reveal the results of my exclusive 64-photo-wide examination:
Primarily, in the age 10-15 category, the average number of likes-per-photo reached an astounding 79 likes.
In the age 16-20 category, the average number of likes was equal to a less impressive 28 likes.
However, the 21-30 category disappointed further with the average ‘wannabe’ photographer accumulating a measly 10 likes.
Nonetheless, as-per-the-trend, the 31+ category suffered the greatest with an average of 6 likes per-photo, generally made up of likes from themselves, their children (who usually feature in the post), and the same two or three friends each time.
Yet, perhaps these results provide more than just an insight in to the world of Instagram and it’s respective users. I would suggest it reveals something of the social media climate in general regarding what different people want out of their social media channels, how they use it, and more widely the qualities developing in the youth of today.
My Mother’s Facebook consists of countless status updates, the likes of which she had hitherto mocked me for posting. Recent examples include, “Oh my goodness…. Homeland….. Can’t believe it!” and “We are at Pacha its 1am I don’t envisage us leaving before 5am!Maybe we won’t make beach by 10am..” Once I finished cringing at these posts (particularly the latter), I realised the sheer amount of interaction that they all seemed to receive. There were likes and comments all over the place, and her limited Facebook-friends seemed genuinely interested in what she was up to – social media in it’s truest sense.
The contrast could not be starker when compared with the profile of my 14 year old brother and his friends. ‘Selfie-central’ is probably the most accurate description of the average 14 year-olds profile, and comments such as ‘hot..x’, ‘dam girl lol’ and ‘OMG WOW!’ are regular visitors to the comments section. Although, with the likes of 17 year-old Kylie Jenner providing the only real point of reference to these adolescents, can you blame them for becoming obsessed with themselves and one another on a seemingly very shallow level?
News of selfies is rife this week:
- Kim Kardashian (sister to Kylie Jenner) has just revealed her new book Selfish, an £11, 350-page book of selfies hitting shelves next year.
- A Polish couple have reportedly died whilst taking selfies on a cliff in Portugal.
- And the sales of black cats have decreased following the general concensus that they don’t ‘look good’ in selfies.
All of this is surely indicative of the fact that the ‘selfie culture’ has got out of hand. Young people today (myself included more than I’d like to admit), are very concerned with self-image and aesthetical egoism, and the concept of ‘social’ media (which still appears to exist for the older generation), has been lost and transformed in to a parade of cyber-vanity.
This explains the recent rise of Instagram and why it has become so popular with young-teenagers worldwide. Instagram provides the most direct way of self-promotion – it is as though the whole world has become their own PR executive, set upon maximising their own coverage, likes and comments. Facebook lives on in the lives of old friends rekindling former relationships, and Twitter still provides the ultimate platform for the promotion of company campaigns and provision of breaking news stories. However, the school-kids are definitely favouring Instagram for their social media fix.
I think we must accept that we are living in a world evermore concerned with the physical, and evermore conscious of the expression ‘If you’ve got it – flaunt it’, although perhaps the first half of that famous idiom is becoming increasingly redundant.
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