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The Hottest Social Network These Days? Not Facebook — But It’s Owned By Them

Facebook remains the undisputed king of social networks. If you’re sharing your stories or looking for sources, your time is well spent there.

But if you want to keep up and catch up with your audience, you can’t be only there, especially as the web moves to an ever more-visually driven medium. (And no, “But I’m on Twitter, too” isn’t enough these days.)

A study out this month finds that the clear winner in growth is another Facebook-acquired property is gaining on its photo-sharing corporate cousin: Instagram. According to research firm GlobalWebIndex, whose quarterly social summary (for Q4 2013) released this month pegs Instagram as the fastest growing — by a long shot — social network.

According to their survey, Instagram grew a whopping 23% in active usage in the fourth quarter of 2013. That same period saw a 3% decrease in Facebook’s usage, as well as in YouTube. To be fair, Facebook is still the most trafficked network, and with far more users already signed on it has less room to grow, but other budding social networks are gaining on it.

In addition to Instagram, Reddit jumped 13 percent in active use, and LinkedIn came in third in growth, up 9 percent. (Some of the other big gainers on that graph, which is a global look at trends, are networks in countries other than the U.S.)

But, again, just to keep things in perspective, Facebook still wins the Internet for now, especially since they purchased Instagram, but also because they’re growing in developing countries, per the global survey.

social network penetration q4 2013What does this mean for journalists?

Well, it’s great news since journalism usually involves pictures. I’d rehash all the ways to use Instagram, but it’s been done, by us and by them (hello, breaking news/geographic hashtags and galleries). And Reddit is best experienced rather than explained.

The point is, these numbers and the other findings of their survey point to a more diverse audience in more places. While you will probably still focus time and energy in your social media efforts on core engaged users on Facebook and breaking news on Twitter, that’s not the only place to reach out. You don’t want to be left behind talking to no one and trying to recapture the magic somewhere new, ala MySpace (which still has more account holders than Reddit, according to their survey, but lost 12% of its active usage last quarter compared to Reddit’s big gains — ah, how the web ebbs and flows).

The survey also delved into the growth of mobile use, something news publishers should own. Nearly every platform saw growth in its mobile app use in the fourth quarter compared to the third quarter. So keep that in mind when you’re sharing out that awesome web package that doesn’t display or work on a phone or tablet. But that and the demographic surprises the survey uncovered is a post for another day, or for now, go read the whole study yourself.

(H/T Digital Trends)

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