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The power of the picture: why Instagram and Pinterest are grabbing eyeballs

Social media channels based around images are getting our attention faster than others, a recent research snapshot by Colmar Brunton shows. That’s partly because of channel fragmentation, but also because pictures put us in touch with our feelings, the company reckons.

The research used interviews with 948 social media users in July and a qualitative study, and showed channels like Instagram and Pinterest were gaining momentum in that time faster than sites like Facebook and Twitter. Just over half of those surveyed said they used Pinterest more than they had in the previous six months compared with 15 percent using it less (which the researchers phrase as a net momentum of 36), while Instagram’s net momentum was 25.

Facebook and YouTube each had net momentum of 18 in that time period among the interviewed users, while Twitter’s was -10.

The company’s innovation and business development director Vanessa Clark says the rise of the image-based channels are partly due to fragmentation in social media, but also to the power of images to create an emotional connection. “The rapid growth of Pinterest and Instagram reinforces the notion that images drive engagement – a message at a glance – and the more emotionally engaged people are with a message the more likely they are to share it,” she says.

Further evidence of channel fragmentation is found in the fact that five percent of those surveyed visited Pinterest daily, six percent used Instagram daily, with the same percentage visiting Twitter each day. 

Since March the use of Instagram as a form of entertainment had risen by 17 percent, according to the research, while Pinterest as a source of information has risen by seven percent, Colmar Brunton says.

The Kiwi social media users interviewed spanned a range of ages. Although more than 90 percent between 18 and 39 used social media, the majority aged over 60 also used it. In the 65-69 age group, 66 percent used social media, while 58 percent of those aged more than 70 did.

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