Do you use Instagram? Since launching in 2010, this photo-sharing site has grown to become a social media behemoth. And since its acquisition by Facebook in 2012 we've seen more growth still, not to mention improvements and enhancements that have helped to make it a true staple online.
It's widely believed that 2014 will be the year of the visual Web: the time when Internet users finally fully embrace the Web's photo and video capabilities. One need only look at the popularity of Pinterest and Tumblr to know this isn't a fleeting trend. Instagram, too, is well positioned to gain users this year (it's at 150 million and counting). It may have started out as a conduit for sharing selfies, but it's become so much more.
Here are 5 reasons to start using Instagram now.
1. It's where your friends are posting their pictures. Increasingly, people are staking a claim to Instagram as their desired parcel of the visual Web. With a plethora of filters it allows you to enhance your photos before you post to imbue them with your design preferences and personality.
2. It's got videos. As of last February, Instagram has been offering video capabilities such that users can create, post, and watch custom 15-second clips. The video tool offers more than a dozen filter options, and you can select your favorite video frame to use as your cover image. Tag your clip with hashtags if you'd like to make it accessible to the public at large.
3. It's a great way to keep up with interesting personalities and brands. Follow authors, political figures, celebrities, and musical acts for behind-the-scenes insight into their work and lives. Follow your favorite companies and you'll get the same: a fun look at how and where products pop up, and new ideas for how best to use them. Much of the Instagram content you'll find from these parties, including videos, is exclusive to the platform; if you don't find it on Instagram, you probably won't come across it at all.
4. It's a way to interact with like-minded people. When you start following other Instagram users, you'll unearth a community of people with your same proclivities and interests. They'll lead you to other Instagram accounts that appeal to you and boom, you have yourself a new method of online content discovery.
5. It's an easy way to infuse your blog with some visual appeal. Blogging platforms like WordPress offer Instagram widgets that pull your photo content onto your blog page. Maintain your Instagram account by posting a new photo or video now and then, and your blog will get dynamic new visual content.