Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Instagram usage passes Twitter with 400 million users

Did you know that Facebook owns Instagram? Did you know that Instagram recently passed Twitter in total users worldwide? In the past few months, I have been noticing a distinct decline in online, genealogical blogging activity. The major, well-known bloggers keep pumping out content, but the background of more local, family oriented blogs has decreased dramatically. At the same time, I have observed a dramatic increase in Instagram usage. According to, Facebook leads the social network pack with about 1.4 billion users. However, the numbers shown on do not agree with the news article on CNET. shows Twitter, Skype, Google+ and Instagram almost neck and neck with around 300 million users each. Other figures show that Facebook steadily increases its user base.

My point is that there is only so much time in a day to spend on social media. Even if you are glued to your smartphone or tablet, you can only spend the time you are awake. So each individual only has a certain amount of elasticity to increase their use. What can change is the amount of time spent on any one social media outlet. If Facebook usage continues to grow and arguably still captures the same amount of time from each user, then the increase in Instagram use has to come from somewhere; my observations point at a decrease in blog traffic in certain areas. Statistics are hard to come by, but one website, shows as steady decline in Blogger usage over 2015. Worldwide, according to, the average online user spends 2.4 hours a day on social networking. Their conclusion is that social networking is now converging around mobile devices.

As I have indicated previously, among my very active, online, children, I am seeing a dramatic shift from blogging and Facebook to Instagram.

If social networking is becoming pervasive worldwide (which it is) and assuming that the conclusion that mobile devices prevail, then it is only natural to see a decline in personal blogging. You should also see a decline in access to those websites and venues that depend on a full keyboard. Hmm. When was the last time you posted a blog from your smartphone?

How does all this compare to usage of the Web for genealogy? Interestingly, according to Google Trends, searches for the term "genealogy" continued their decline. Here is the graph.

There are various ways to measure interest and usage in a website. Actual use statistics from various online websites seem to contradict each other on occasion. I tend to put more credence into search trends that usage figures because search trends are more device independent and indicate more what people are doing rather than just the fact that they are looking at the Web. Of course there is a wide latitude for controversy in this area.

Here is an update of the Google Trends graph for the three big online websites as targets for searches:

If I change the search terms to eliminate the URL designation of the searches the graph changes significantly:

To what extent does a decrease in searching for the term "genealogy" play in the decline of genealogical blog posts? Are we attracting any new readers or just maintaining our developed readership? If all of you out there stop reading my blog, does that mean I can stop writing and do something else?


  1. Wow. I hope you share this with the FamilySearch guys. They are pretty up-to-date on stuff, but this illustrated graphically the low participation in family history across the board. Hmm. What a problem.

  2. I do not know what "spend time" means in this context. If say my Twitter account is open all the time while I am actually doing other things, does that count? If not, how do they know. And if so, I can keep several social media platforms open all day so "there are only so many hours in a day" becomes moot. Including the hours I sleep.

  3. Interesting stats. It would be worth knowing how they calculate the usage. Is it by the time people have the websites or apps open or is it calculated by how many posts to the site are made. I often have all of my social site tabs open, but that doesn't mean I'm posting constantly to them all.