Yes, ladies and gentlemen, the free photo sharing application Instagram has hit 400 million users worldwide. This news came in late September, and has been picked up by blogs and news sites alike. This is wonderful news for its owner Facebook, as Instagram is showing steady growth and developing opportunities. But is this news big enough to put a dent in the social networking and business world, or even impact Singapore’s social network landscape?
Since Instagram’s founding in October 2010 (acquired by Facebook in April 2012), it has hit 300 million users worldwide in December 2014, and finally 400 million users in September 2015. That is a 100 million users increase, which has been reported that the main growths were seen in Brazil, Japan and Indonesia (via TechCrunch). This beats Twitter’s announcement of 310 million users in July 2015. Not too sure how Twitter is feeling about this announcement.
Instagram and Singapore
According to Global Web Index, Singapore has 14% active Instagrammers, which means there is an estimated 700 thousand active Singaporean Instagrammers . While the most popular applications are Facebook and Whatsapp, Instagram is seeing growth in Singapore too, partly because of Facebook’s active promotion of Instagram to its audience. It’s not an amazingly large number of users, but it is not hard to see its growing popularity:
1) Instagram is a mobile-only app
80% of Singaporean are mobile social users (via wearesocial.sg), and 152% have mobile connections (meaning one person owning more than one mobile device). That means any social app involving communication and sharing will likely strive well in Singapore’s social networking landscape. This has been true for Facebook, Facebook Messenger, Whatsapp and Twitter, and the same is true for Instagram.
2) Instagram is about photos and videos, making it easy to use
For the urban Singaporean with busy lifestyles, not only will content with photos and videos attract more eyes, they are very good at discerning content that doesn’t interest them, and go straight to the content they are interested in. Instagram follows are similar to Facebook follows, without “advertisement fatigue” interrupting the flow of their consumption (mind you, it’s not the issue with the advertising feature, but rather poor ads that disrupt the Facebook experience). This means each post is easily read by your followers, and the user interface makes it easy to finish their Instagram feed till their next login.
3) Instagram support tribes through hashtags
Tribes is a group of people who have a common passion. Instagram is about using hashtags, which allows Singaporeans tribes to find other people with similar passion easily. Try finding #charkueyteow, one of the favourite dishes among Singaporeans, the “Char Kuey Teow” Tribe can easily share photos of their favourite dishes, and details of where. People with similar interests can easily connect with each other, locally and internationally.
Four examples of local companies using Instagram
Here are four examples of how Instagram is being used in Singapore. However, this is not to say that these four Instagram accounts are the best accounts in Singapore. The examples exist to offer you an insight to some of the styles and techniques the accounts use.
It is rather expensive to drive in Singapore, therefore taxis are widely used in Singapore. Grabtaxi is an app that allows easy booking of taxis, even introducing special rides to offer a different taxiing experience. In their promotion to provide promotional free rides for their BMW option, they uploaded an ad post in form of a beautifully taken photo, with their own hashtag #GrabJoyRide, making it easy for fans to find relevant information. Grabtaxi also uses Instagram as a platform to answer any queries from their followers.
Mr S Iswaran (@s.iswaran)
Mr S Iswaran is a Singaporean minister, and he used an Instagram account in support of the recent General Elections held in Singapore. Making rounds in the constituency to gather support, he has been uploading photographs of meeting residents, and hard-at-work shots. This is a public account, and a little limiting in content. According to digimind.com, “Half the candidates with Instagram accounts listed have posted at least 1 time on the social media platform between 2 and 6 September”. While Singapore politicians have not started leveraging Instagram to its fullness (hey, not everyone can be Mr Obama), it is clear that they are exploring Instagram as a platform for their marketing purposes.
The Occasional Travelller (@jac_theocctrav)
Travel offers photo opportunities that is perfect for Instagram, and these photos offer the variety and cohesion that shows on the instagram wall, and becomes the brand of the Instagram account. Jaclynn Seah is a Singaporean travel blogger whose Instagram shows that kind of quality. She also uses plenty of hashtags for each photo post (but not overwhelmingly), to indicate possible interests in her own photos that other Instagrammers might find an interest in. Instagram also allows her to post videos to let travel enthusiasts immerse in the both sights and sounds of Jaclynn’s travel experiences.
Ben & Jerry’s SG (@benandjerrysg)
Brands with a fun culture can usually be seen from the Instagram wall. One example is the popular ice cream brand Ben and Jerry’s. A lot of effort is put into post such as these, in effort to make each photo attractive, and most importantly, make their products attractive. (Hey, nobody said Instagram marketing was easy!) Ben and Jerry’s has gathered and command loyalty from their fans, and they will continue with the hard work to produce impressive visuals to capture the hearts of Singaporeans.
The Evolving Instagram
Hitting 400 million users worldwide was not the only news from Instagram. For the past months, Instagram has been beta testing an ad feature, partnering with only a few brands to try to introduce ads into users’ Instragram feed. Earlier in September (prior to the announcement of 400 million users) it rolled out the advertising feature to over 30 countries, for any businesses of any size. (Singapore is unfortunately not one of the 30 countries, as technology companies has a tendency to roll out big changes in Singapore later, and Singapore is slow to take advantages of the changes.)
This was Facebook’s vision for Instagram when it acquired the photo sharing application in 2012. As the user base continue to grow, so does the opportunities for businesses to reach out to more people, and that could mean more advertising dollars earned. However, with Facebook planning to export its advertising structure into Instagram, will Instagram see the same “advertisement fatigue”? It is anybody’s guess, as Facebook keeps its own counsel. However, they will no doubt do their best to find that thin balance between the perfect user experience, and business profits and investor interests.
What does that mean for Singapore? It’s very hard to say. It’s like Instagram trying his best to woo Singapore, but still very early in that relationship. Will Instagram be able to grow Singaporeans’ interest after showing off his true colours? Or will a better suitor come along and capture Singapore’s interest? Only time will time, and this relationship is one that many will be interested in seeing how it develops.
AsiaClick Globe Editor