20 percent of Instagram users connect accounts with Facebook

About 20 percent of Instagram users connect to Facebook through the mobile photo sharing app each month, according to an analysis using our AppData tracking service. This is up from 15 percent last year, and numbers related to Instagram’s Android release last week suggest the proportion could be even higher.

Facebook announced Monday it would acquire Instagram for $1 billion, allowing the app and brand to live on. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg says Instagram will continue to support cross-posting to other social networks and allow follower/following relationships without forcing users to connect on Facebook. That will be important, as a relatively small percentage of Instagram users seem interested in linking their accounts. However, as the two services develop closer ties, Instagram could include more compelling reasons for cross-over; for example, tagging Facebook friends and Facebook check-ins.

Nine months after its public launch, Instagram announced it had 5 million users. At that time, less than 15 percent of users were using the photo sharing app to connect with Facebook each month, according to AppData. By this we mean users posted Instagram photos to Facebook directly from the app or used Instagram’s “find friends” feature. Since then, the percentage of users connecting with Facebook and using the app each month has grown to slightly more than 20 percent. Instagram’s Facebook app has 7.3 million monthly active users, though Facebook hasn’t updated its user numbers in several days, as seen in the graph below.

There are a few reasons why a greater percentage of Instagram users are now connecting with Facebook. Instagram’s early adopters might have been people who use other networks like Twitter more than Facebook. Some of these users might have also seen Instagram as an alternative social network that they wanted to keep separate from Facebook. As more mainstream users joined Instagram, they might have been more prone to connecting their account with their primary social network. It’s also likely that many newer Instagram users discovered the app because they saw their friends’ filtered photos on Facebook, so they thought to post there too.

We’ve also seen Instagram improve the way its photos appear on Facebook. Until earlier this year, when Instagram users cross-posted photos, they displayed as small thumbnails that took users off-Facebook. As such, some users would separately upload Instagram photos to Facebook or they’d post to Twitter, which automatically posted to Facebook. Then with Facebook Photos API integration, Instagram could post full-size photos directly to an album on the social network. This more optimized experience might have led many users to connect to Facebook if they didn’t before. AppData shows an acceleration in growth around this time, which may or may not be related to the change. Instagram gained 1.3 million monthly active Facebook users in the two months between Nov. 5, 2011 and Jan. 5, 2012, when it adopted the Photos API. In the next two months, Instagram picked up 2.3 million monthly active Facebook users.

AppData also shows Instagram gained 890,000 daily active Facebook users in a single day after the app became available on Android devices on April 3. Google Play, formerly known as Android Market, lists the app as having somewhere between 1 million and 5 million installs. A blog post by Instagram said the app added 1 million new users in a single hour that day. This suggests a large percentage of new users connected their Instagram and Facebook accounts. Some new developments could encourage these users to continue to post from Instagram to Facebook.

For example, Instagram is working with Facebook on an Open Graph integration that will further optimize how photos are published to News Feed, Ticker and Timeline. We expect Instagram to soon include options to tag Facebook friends and locations directly from the mobile app, since the social network released those APIs last month. These features could lead more users to connect their accounts. We also might see links and calls to action within both Facebook and Instagram to drive traffic between the two services.

Total Instagram users versus Facebook-connected users over time

  • Instagram announces 5 million users on June 13, 2011
  • 766,070 million monthly active Facebook users, according to AppData
  • ~15 percent of Instagram users connected with Facebook
  • Instagram announces 15 million users on Dec. 7, 2011
  • 2.2 million monthly active Facebook users, according to AppData
  • ~15 percent of Instagram users connected with Facebook
  • Instagram announces 16 million users on Feb. 25
  • 5 million monthly active Facebook users, according to AppData
  • ~31 percent of Instagram users connected with Facebook
  • The Next Web estimates 25 million Instagram users on March 3
  • 5.3 million monthly active Facebook users, according to AppData
  • ~21 percent of Instagram users connected with Facebook
  • Instagram announces 30 million users on April 3
  • 6.5 million monthly active Facebook users, according to AppData
  • ~22 percent of Instagram users connected with Facebook