- Twitter focuses on concise, real-time updates, while Instagram emphasizes visual storytelling with photos and videos.
- Twitter is owned by Elon Musk’s X Corp, while Instagram is owned by Meta Platforms, the company behind Facebook and WhatsApp.
- Instagram has nearly three times as many active users as Twitter, with 1.35 billion compared to Twitter’s 450 million.
- Twitter supports up to four photos or videos per post, while Instagram allows up to 10 photos and videos with larger file size limits.
- Despite their differences, both platforms have unique features and user experiences, but Instagram’s stability and larger user base make it the preferred choice.
In the wide web of social media sites, two popular contenders often stand out: Twitter and Instagram. Both platforms allow people to express themselves and connect with others. However, they differ tremendously in their core functionalities and user experiences. Let’s delve into these unique factors that set Twitter vs Instagram apart. Here, we’ll explore their similarities and differences to help you better navigate these two dynamic social media giants. Then, we’ll tell you which site is worth your time.
Twitter vs Instagram: Side By Side Comparison
|Founded||March 21st, 2006||October 6th, 2010|
|Owner||X Corp.||Meta Platforms, Inc.|
|Acquired||October 27th, 2022||April 9th, 2012|
|iOS App Size||217 MB||266 MB|
|Default Post Format||Text||Photos and videos|
|Other Content Supported||Images|
|Most Followed User||Elon Musk (137 million)||Cristiano Ronaldo (530 million)|
|Monthly Active Users||450 million (2023 est.)||1.35 billion (2023 est.)|
Twitter vs Instagram: What’s the Difference?
Though Twitter and Instagram are both popular social media platforms with hundreds of millions of active users, the two have their differences. Broadly speaking, Twitter revolves around concise and real-time updates, allowing users to share thoughts, and news, and engage in public conversations. Conversely, Instagram leans more toward visual storytelling, allowing users to share curated photos and videos in a visually appealing format. What else sets Twitter vs Instagram apart? Let’s break it all down below.
Firstly, there’s a big difference in ownership between Twitter vs Instagram. For 16 years, Twitter was the brainchild of Jack Dorsey (the man behind Square, Bluesky, and other significant tech products and services). As of October 2022, however, Twitter has fallen under the ownership of Elon Musk’s X Corp. Comparatively, Meta Platforms — the same company behind Facebook and WhatsApp — owns and operates Instagram. Meta has owned Instagram since 2012 and relies on the platform as a key part of its business model.
Preferred Content Type
Secondly, Twitter and Instagram are optimized for two completely different content types. Twitter is primarily for tweets: microblog-style posts with a limited number of characters with a set number of photos, videos, GIFs, or polls attached to the post. On the other hand, Instagram is used for posting photos and videos with text captions. You cannot simply post text on Instagram. You must attach a photo or video, or other visual element (such as a colored background) to the text first.
Likewise, Twitter and Instagram have very different feed layouts to match their different types of preferred content. Twitter’s feed — either on mobile or desktop — focuses on text. To view photos and videos, you typically have to click them to open them in a carousel view (not unlike how you would on Facebook). Instagram, by comparison, puts the focus on the visuals. Users have to tap on captions to view them in full. This emphasizes Instagram’s focus on on photo and video carousels. This is true on both mobile and desktop versions of the platform.
When comparing Twitter vs Instagram, it also helps to look at the number of active users on each site. This gives us a great glimpse at how the general public feels about each platform. It’s safe to assume the site with more users delivers the better user experience, right? With this in mind, Twitter estimated its base around 450 million monthly active users at the start of 2023. Compare this to Instagram, which estimated its user base around 1.35 billion active users at the start of 2023. All in all, Instagram has nearly three times as many active users as Twitter.
Lastly, let’s talk about the supported media types for both Twitter and Instagram. Twitter supports up to four photos per post, and each photo must be less than 5 MB. The site allows you to upload GIF, JPEG, and PNG files. Users can attach up to four videos per tweet, with maximum file sizes capped at 512 MB per video. Instagram supports videos as large as 3.6 GB, but they must be under an hour in length. Photo file sizes have a 30 MB cap. Users can upload up to 10 photos in a single post. Also, multiple photos must all use the same aspect ratio.
Twitter vs Instagram: 5 Must-Know Facts
- In the past, Twitter and Instagram relied on a strict verification to confirm the authenticity of prominent accounts (such as public figures, organizations, and notable personalities). However, in recent months, Twitter and Instagram users have been paying for instant verification via a blue checkmark badge.
- Twitter limits posts to 280 characters per tweet. This is double the earlier limit, which was initially 140 characters. (Images, GIFs, and videos don’t count toward the character limit).
- Twitter and Instagram both offer direct messaging features (also known as DMs). Users can share tweets or Instagram posts through their DMs and even create private direct-messaging groups comprised of multiple users.
- Instagram Stories are a large part of Instagram’s business model. These “Stories” are temporary posts that last for 24 hours. Users can share photos, videos, and interactive elements such as polls, questions, and quizzes to their Stories, then save them to a “Highlights” tab on their profile.
- Both Twitter and Instagram curate posts in a special “For You” tab. This tab draws from users’ activity, follows, and likes to assemble a series of posts the algorithm believes the user will enjoy. Users can expand their feeds beyond their immediate circle of follows and followers.
The History of Twitter
Though it only has a third of the number of users as Instagram, Twitter is nonetheless a popular social media platform in its own right. Square founder Jack Dorsey and his fellow Silicon Valley thinkers got the idea for Twitter when discussing the lack of a platform to share thoughts, ideas, and updates in real time. So, they decided to make the platform. Launched to the public in 2006, Twitter revolves around short text-based posts called “tweets.” Despite the innovative concept, only a small group of tech enthusiasts and early adopters used Twitter in the early days.
Twitter gained momentum and attracted more users throughout the 2000s. An increasing number of users flocked to the platform after realizing how quickly they could share information and hold discussions on the site. Twitter introduced hashtags in 2007, allowing users to categorize and search for specific topics or trends, hashtags have since become a fundamental part of Twitter and various other social media platforms.
Another key feature of the platform? Retweets. Users can share someone else’s tweet with their followers. This feature helps better amplify content and promote information across the platform. Today, Twitter is the go-to platform for real-time news updates, celebrity interactions, and discussions on various topics. Even though some users worry about Twitter’s future after Elon Musk’s recent acquisition, it remains a popular social media platform with millions of daily active users.
How Instagram Compares
Instagram is a popular photo- and video-based social media platform. Unlike other text-based social sites, there’s no support for text-based posts without a photo or video attached. Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger first launched Instagram in October 2010. The app originated as a Foursquare-esque app for people to post about their favorite popular locations. However, Systrom and Krieger eventually redeveloped the app into Instagram when they realized the photo-sharing feature was far more popular than any other on their platform.
At the outset, the app was an iPhone exclusive. In time, however, the app became popular, expanding to Android and other markets. Users appreciated the ability to quickly and easily share photos on the app. Plus, the app’s filters allowed users to enhance their photos with different color effects. (You’ll see just how popular these filters were if you scroll back too far on someone’s Instagram page.) Instagram’s features and services grew more popular with Facebook’s acquisition of the platform in 2012.
With Facebook’s support, Instagram introduced many new features and improvements, making it even more innovative and user-friendly than it already was. One of the most important of these? The addition of video sharing in 2013. This feature remains an integral part of Instagram’s platform today. The same goes for Meta’s introduction of Instagram Stories in 2016. Stories allow users to share photos and videos that disappear after 24 hours, not unlike Snapchat. Today, Instagram remains one of the most popular social media platforms.
Twitter vs Instagram: Pros and Cons
|Pros of Twitter||Cons of Twitter|
|Great source of real-time information and news||Recent Elon Musk ownership raises eyebrows|
|Massive global reach of millions of users||Misinformation spreads incredibly quickly|
|Quick, concise posts, replies, and retweets||Site is notorious for prevalent harassment|
|Supports live streams, videos, photos, and gifs||Character limit set at 280 for free users|
|Pros of Instagram||Cons of Instagram|
|Ideal for photo and video sharing||No support for text-only posts|
|Instagram Stories support short-term posts||Blamed for perpetuating unrealistic standards|
|Innovative feed curation algorithms||Can’t post links in captions or comments|
|More users than Twitter||Meta frequently makes frustrating changes|
Twitter vs Instagram: Which Is Better?
So: which social media platform is better between Twitter vs Instagram? On the surface, this debate might look like apples and oranges. How can we name a true winner with one platform revolving around text and the other revolving around images? Let’s reflect on what we’ve discussed so far. Instagram has more users than Twitter. However, Meta owns Instagram while Elon Musk’s X Corp owns Twitter. These two factors make Instagram a far more stable platform than Twitter. We feel Instagram deserves to be the winner for its stability.