Instagram: the winner in the 2016 social media channel wars

Instagram: the winner in the 2016 social media channel wars

Instagram is looking forward to 2017 by adding a host of bells and whistles to its increasingly strong dominance of social media channels.

While Twitter’s social stock has shrunk, and Facebook’s constant fiddling with algorithms has infuriated social fans, its sister company continues to be the choice of influencers.

A Marketing Week webinar this week , paid for by agency Brandnew revealed results of a survey of 500 influencers – not necessarily just working in travel.

Instagram came out as the channel of choice by far, followed by personal blog and Twitter, then with Facebook and rising star Snapchat further behind.

It’s not all an Instagram love-in, however. The channel changed its rules six months ago  which wiped out chronological feeds in favour of content most ‘meaningful’ to the user.

(This could be the biggest social story of 2016, ultimately: the loss of random voices and opinions, in only allowing users to see stuff they already know, like and agree with = polarized people)

However, Instagram has responded with a series of channel tweaks to consolidate its position, allay anger – and keep rival Snapchat at arm’s length.

Most importantly, it is testing (on verified accounts) the allowance of clickable links other than in the bio, which is currently the only URL on the platform.

Being a control-freak, Instagram needs you to click ‘ show more’ then will only open the link in a browser of its own, so that the user doesn’t leave the platform.

“The addition of links is sure to satisfy brands who want to promote products, and creators who need to promote their other social channels,” says a Techcrunch report. True – but will they ever open up the facility to all accounts?

In another tweak, you can now tag other IG users in a Story – the facility introduced by Instagram three months ago to take on Snapchat.

I’m a late triallist of Stories but can see why it’s been taken up reasonably well – particularly by influencers on their travels, at events or, well, in a storybook form.

I’ve seen good stuff from Budget Traveller in Argentina this week and Matt Long (Landlopers) in Paris (you clearly have to look at their accounts on the mobile, rather than website).

You can stitch together photos, Instagram’s Boomerang video app (one-second played forward and backwards – can be fun if thought through) and standard video. It’s a sop, effectively, to influencers who lost the chronological feed and with it the chance to run a rolling campaign (unless via a hashtag).

There’s some good stuff there and has helped consolidate the dominance of Instagram with influencers this year – perhaps less so with brands, who remain fixated by Facebook video and ads.

What do you think – who is your 2017 social media channel winner?

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Steve Keenan has been a travel journalist for 25 years. He started at a Reed paper, news editing at Travel News in London - now Travel Weekly - having spent the previous 10 years reporting general news at a variety of papers and news agencies, in the UK and abroad. He has also taught English in Peru, delivered cars in the USA, ran the Sydney desk at AAP and caught the train home from Hong Kong pre-fall of the Wall, the only hitch being a train strike in Belguim. Once Steve decided travel was his thing, he left TN in 1990 to freelance. He wrote freelanced for a variety of trade and consumer press, from L'Echo Touristique in France to The Journal of Air Commerce in New York. He began writing for The Times of London on travel news and business travel in 1996, went on contract two years later and joined the paper fulltime as deputy travel editor in 2000. In December 2004, he became the first national digital travel editor in the UK, running the travel website of The Times and Sunday Times. Three days after joining, the Indian Ocean tsunami happened and online reporting, video, webinars, analysis and comment suddenly made a lot of sense. The introduction of a paywall at the papers in 2010 persuaded him that the connected world might continue outside of Wapping and in December 2011, he left News International to co-form Travel Perspective. The company ran the inaugural Social Travel Market at Reed's World Travel Market in London last November, and now works with Reed Expos and other clients in helping the industry best understand and embrace the world of social and digital media in travel.

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