STUDY: Instagram Catches Twitter For U.S. Users

By David Cohen 

eMarketerInstagramChart650Positive statistics continue to roll in for Instagram, as the Facebook-owned photo- and video-sharing service’s announcement Wednesday that it had reached 200 million monthly active users was followed by a report by market researcher eMarketer that favorably compared Instagram usage in the U.S. with that of Twitter.

According to eMarketer, nearly 35 million U.S. Internet users accessed Instagram at least once per month by the end of 2013, double-digit growth when compared with 2012.

eMarketer also projected that by the end of 2014, nearly one-quarter of U.S. smartphone users will sign into Instagram or share photos at least once per month.

About two-third of Instagram users in 2012 were female, but eMarketer projects that by 2016, the discrepancy between the two genders will drop to 55 percent female, 45 percent male.

In comparing Instagram with Twitter, eMarketer wrote:

Although Twitter and Instagram are quite different, their user counts and demographics are strikingly similar. eMarketer estimates that 43.2 million U.S. consumers used Twitter monthly last year — or 17.6 percent of the total Internet user population. Meanwhile, Instagram users represented 16.1 percent of internet users in 2013.

On smartphones — where Instagram activity almost exclusively takes place — Twitter had just 30.8 million users in 2013, and this number will increase to 37.3 million in 2014, or 22.7 percent of U.S. smartphone users. Both figures fall slightly below those for total Instagram users — 34.6 million in 2013, increasing to 40.5 million in 2014, eMarketer estimates. (Instagram’s smartphone user base is likely higher than Twitter’s, but it is possible for Instagram users to use their account only to look at pictures on a computer or tablet. That small minority of users is included in our total figure, but not broken out separately from smartphone Instagram users.) As a point of reference, eMarketer pegs U.S. smartphone Facebook users at 123.7 million this year.

Overall, Twitter’s U.S. user base shows signs of maturing in its demographic composition, spreading the user population more evenly across age groups, while Instagram is still largely limited to a pool of millennial and Gen X users. Last year, nearly 70 percent of Instagram’s U.S. users were ages 18 to 44; this year, that figure will drop, but only to 67.5 percent. In 2014, Twitter’s user base from 18 to 44 will account for about 60 percent of its overall users. Over time, Instagram’s user base in these age groups will approach, but not surpass, Twitter’s, and eMarketer does not expect significant shifts in usage by age for either site within our forecast period. Instagram’s user count among users aged 18 to 44 will remain about 1 million fewer than Twitter’s in each year throughout our forecast.

Readers: What did you think of eMarketer’s findings?