Sunday, 15 April 2018

Comparing Twitter and Instagram

I’ve been on Instagram for maybe a year now, and I have formed some opinions. In fact, so many opinions that I came up with this blog post based on Reasons I don’t like IG! First and foremost, I don’t feel that it facilitates a professional learning community as elegantly and conveniently as Twitter does. There is sharing and collaboration, but having everything centred around images limits your ability to share, network, and connect ideas together. That being said, I feel like IG is a bit friendlier (probably because I’m not really seeing the targeted cyberbullying, which is much easier to hide behind private profiles) and since everything is based on images, there are less posts then with Twitter, so less nastiness (this is just the impression I’ve gotten over the last year, it isn’t backed up by data that I’ve seen).

Here, in no particular order, is a chart outlining some comparisons between Twitter and Instagram:


Instagram: If I follow someone, I can’t tell if they’re following me (or if I can, no one has showed me where to look/how to tell - it’s not obvious or intuitive… maybe I should ask my students!?)
Twitter: “Following” “Follows You”. Simple. Intuitive.


Instagram: Can’t easily tell if someone is following me, though when it says “follow back” this is obviously implied.
Twitter: Mouse over someone's profile, or click: it clearly says “Following” and/or “Follows You”

Groups (organize who you follow)

Instagram: None. Don’t know who a person is or where I met or how i know (especially challenging with alternate usernames). No way to organize (I suppose the way around this is to just make lots of accounts - which some people do: often with the word “spam” in the handle)
Twitter: As many lists as you like. Follow people and still mute them (eg. High Volume tweeters)


Instagram: Hootsuite sends the picture to your device as a notification. You still have to post it (basically you just get a reminder, with most of it all setup for you already. However, if you miss the notification then it doesn’t go out!)
Twitter: Hootsuite sends it out exactly as requested. Also, no picture required! Less work to schedule 10 text posts then to do one IG scheduled image post. No worries about missing notifications or forgetting key, time-sensitive posts.


Instagram: Everything must be based (at least initially) on an image. You can’t “reply-all” unless you type individual names in.
Twitter: Reply all, or at mention someone easily. Conversation can start out of the blue, evolve organically.


Instagram: If you see something you like so much you want to share with your network, you need to screen capture, which is much more onerous. Might be able to do it with a separate app (but WHY?!)
Twitter: One button: Retweet (plus you can also quote tweet)


Instagram: Don’t seem to work in either picture descriptions or in comments. Apparently they now work in my IG bio (only)
Twitter: Type a link in, even gets shortened for you by Twitter.


Instagram: Have to sign up for business tools to access (on my list of things to do).
Twitter: Accessible on every page and tweet (of your own content).


Instagram: Overemphasis on likes, harder to find things that actually matter to me (ie. mentions)
Twitter: Can sort between mentions and all notifications. Can also drill down more specifically with notifications.


Instagram: Can’t tell which picture is being referenced in lock-screen notifications (unless it is a comment I believe)
Twitter: Lock screen says that someone I know RT’d something… but doesn’t say who was the original author!


Instagram: Don’t think i can embed a feed on our website (or any website) - if you can I haven’t figured it out yet. You used to be able to do this using Storify, but that has closed down.
Twitter: Embedded. Multiple accounts in fact, on multiple webpages.


Instagram: IG has the “story” which disappears after a day… I don’t understand the appeal, but then again I am a history major at heart: I know that 90% of what we know about the middle ages comes from 10% of that population. If I am going to go to the trouble to make some image, and post it… I don’t want it to disappear the next day. You can save things privately.
Twitter: Can search far back. Can also download your archive.

It may sound like I really hate Instagram, but that is not entirely correct. I just don’t prefer it, and I am not visiting it every day for the most part. I don’t find that they recommend interesting stuff much on the search page, so I am not looking much at other peoples’ stuff. I find I can scroll through my home screen and catch up quickly on what people have posted since the last time I looked. There are however, some things that I really do like about Instagram. Here they are:

Character Limit

Instagram: None. Enough said.
Twitter: 140 or 280… there are still some differences based on whether my iPad/iPhone software is up-to-date, latest version of the app. Sometimes I feel like replies are shorter than they should be.


Instagram: With no character limit, this opens lots of possibilities to make really unique ones that won’t get hijacked by spam marketing. With a good hashtag, you can curate your photos with pinpoint accuracy.
Twitter: Considering the character limit, you need to be picky about what you tag. Also, more popular or well used tags get lots of spam and unrelated links, making it harder to curate things.

Edit posts

Instagram: Edit button right at the top. Works really well for cross posting through IFTTT for people who don’t have the same brand on IG and Twitter. That way I put the Twitter handle in the original post, then once IFTTT has run it’s script, I go and edit the post to change the handle to the right IG one.
Twitter: Spelling mistake? Wrong user at mentioned? Too bad so sad, copy the tweet, paste, edit and post again, then delete the one with errors. (I don’t delete right after copying because sometimes the copy doesn’t actually copy and then I have to retype everything) This is probably my biggest complaint about Twitter (the fact that you can't do this) - however it's fairly easy to workaround, as noted above.


Instagram: Can cross post to other sites (namely Twitter/Facebook) but Twitter only goes with a link unless you use IFTTT to post natively. Facebook integration is much better, but that’s because Facebook owns Instagram.
Twitter: Can’t post to IG from Twitter as far as I can tell. If you try to post from IG using IFTTT, you need to be cognizant of Twitter character limits.

Here’s the kicker: engagement. Students are much more prevalent at this time on Instagram, and since they engage much more with the content there than on our Twitter page, I stay! Twitter is great for embedding on the school website, following local news, connecting with other schools, teachers, and board staff, and some parents. So I switched my mindset and I only use Twitter for text based interactions, and all my photos go on Instagram. Then, using IFTTT software, my IG pics are posted automatically to my Twitter account, killing two birds with one stone so to speak. After that I manage my notifications as if I had posted the pictures twice manually. The key time saver in this mind shift is the avoidance of double posting.

I started developing this mindset while teaching Language (thanks in large part to my colleague, Teacher-Librarian Jennifer Mohamed), and the emphasis on writing texts for different purposes and audiences. Social media is great for thinking about and practicing these crucial areas of writing.

In conclusion, IFTTT? Love it. You should look into it! Very simple, and very handy. Also very versatile, since you can connect many different things. (I should probably do a post just about this specifically.) IG? Meh - I’ll stay, but I’m not spending a lot of time. Twitter? Yes yes yes. As much as there is junk out there, I would still say it is a key aspect of my teaching career thus far, both in terms of leadership and learning. I went looking for something on my Media timeline a little while ago, to forward to a colleague. I scrolled back through three or four years, and realized just how much I have grown, even in that short amount of time! So, if you aren’t on Twitter, I would recommend checking it out.

Did I miss something? If you disagree with me about something in my points above, please let me know in the comments. I’m trying to maintain an open learning stance - as teachers we should model lifelong learning for our students after all - so I’d be glad to hear from you!

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