It seems that 2016 is the year that Instagram has become more prevalent on the web than Twitter. This is according to an analysis by website tool provider SimilarTech of the the top 1 million sites based on their global traffic, which includes publishers, brands and e-commerce sites.
When 2016 first began, Instagram was trailing Twitter in the number of sites that embedded its users’ posts or featured its social widgets, like follow buttons. But by the December, Instagram’s footprint had expanded by 308 percent, which allowed it to overtake Twitter, whose footprint expanded by 36 percent over the 2016 period.
What is unclear is what pushed so many sites to start embedding Instagram posts and widgets on their pages in 2016. The ability to embed people’s posts on sites was introduced by Instagram back in July 2013. Instagram had rolled out follow buttons, or “badges,” in November 2012. The monthly user base of Instagram grew from 400 million people in September 2015 to 600 million people in December 2016 probably had some impact on their footprint increase. But what spurred the adoption spike in May 2016, when the number of sites featuring Instagram posts and widgets jumped by 77 percent month over month?
The spike could have had something to do with Instagram’s move away from a reverse-chronological feed in favor of an algorithmic one that ranked posts based on what specific users would likely be interested in seeing. Another possibility is the fear that people would be less likely to see a brand’s or publisher’s photo or video on Instagram, so these companies started embedding them on their own properties, as well as follow buttons to up their audiences and chances of making it into people’s feeds.
But there’s a chance that this isn’t the case. The algorithm shift was originally announced in March 2016. At this point, Instagram’s web foot print only grew by 1 percent the following month. The algorithm wasn’t even officially implemented until June 2016, when adoption grew by 27 percent, coming down from the previous month’s 77 percent growth spurt.