With the ever-increasing amount of information and entertainment available on the Internet, there's a growing need for Internet curators. Some curators have their own websites, while others simply operate a social media account on Twitter (NYSE:TWTR), Instagram, or Tumblr.
Not to be left out, social media companies have hired their own curators and developed products. Twitter, for example, just released Moments, which collects the most important stories happening on Twitter and selects specific videos, photos, and tweets to show its audience. Snapchat's OurStory operates similarly. Most recently, Instagram tested a curated feed of Halloween videos, and management says that it plans to do more curation events in the future.
Instagram's feed highlighted the quality of content on its network and represents yet another monetization platform for the Facebook (NASDAQ:FB) subsidiary.
More than the network effect
Instagram boasts a larger network than its competitors. With 400 million monthly active users, it has more users than Twitter (320 million monthly users), Snapchat (100 million daily users), and Vine (200 million monthly viewers). As such, it makes sense that it would have a larger pool to choose its top videos and photos from, increasing the quality of its curated feed.
But the quality of content on Instagram was still far better than the content Twitter collected for its Halloween Moment. It featured well-edited videos from amateur videographers interspersed with content from celebrities and unedited videos of regular kids being ridiculous. Instagram hit the right mix of professional-looking content and amateur content.
Twitter's Halloween Moment, comparatively, felt sparse and was mostly void of truly interesting content. Snapchat's felt noisy and unedited, save for the interstitial advertisements that popped up a few times.
Indeed, the difference in quality seems largely due to the difference in the way people use Instagram. Instagram was originally designed to make middling-quality photos from the iPhone 3GS look good. This made users focus on the aesthetics of things uploaded to Instagram. That aesthetic focus has carried over to today, where Instagram has become a place to share polished things.
Conversely, Twitter and Snapchat are designed to share things quickly and easily without much focus on the aesthetics. As a result, both have lower-quality content.
The higher quality content on Instagram makes the app more engaging. People see beautiful and interesting things every time they open the app. This will keep them coming back to Instagram and staying in the app longer. It will also enable it to continue growing, whereas Twitter has seen its user growth slow to a crawl. Most importantly, for investors, it will provide it with plenty more opportunities to show users ads.
Curated feeds could lead to more advertising
Shortly after releasing Moments, Twitter announced that it would allow businesses to pay for Promoted Moments. That puts the business in charge of curating content for the moment, and it can use its branding however it likes. Instagram could follow in Twitter's footsteps, enabling brands to make their own curated feeds.
Additionally, Instagram could take Snapchat's approach and place ads interstitially between native content. Snapchat does this for its Discover tab and OurStory features. Targeting these ads is relatively easy due to the context of the curated feed. The potential exposure makes them particularly attractive to brand advertisers, although Instagram has access to targeting resources and ad inventory to make them programmatic.
What's more, curated content could lead to more content discovery. Instagram already has an excellent discovery section that uses algorithms to surface content it believes each user will be interested in. It also recently added trending hashtags. Another form of discovery that doesn't take away from its existing discovery tools will make Instagram that much more engaging, and thus more profitable for Facebook.
The Halloween curated feed was just the first of what could be many more similar events on Instagram. It doesn't need to do these things every day like Twitter because its audience is already using the app every day. These feeds can just be an impetus to get them to use it more, and make a little more money while it's at it.