The question I will attempt to answer is: Can Instagram act as an equally suitable social media platform as Twitter when it comes to athletes announcing their retirement?
The athlete and his retirement I have chosen to evaluate is Rob Gronkowski on March 24, 2019 (even though he has since come out of retirement). We will be estimating the number of people that received the news of his retirement through Instagram versus Twitter. Unfortunately, likes on a tweet are given away less generously than they are on Instagram, therefore we cannot use this as a measure. But just as an FYI, Gronkowski’s retirement tweet had 115k likes and his Instagram post had 1.4 million.
Twitter and Instagram are the two most significant social media platforms when it comes to sports news. Typically, athletes reserve their statements for Twitter because of its newspaper resemblance. But in recent years, Instagram could have potentially emerged as an equally viable option for athletes’ announcements, especially retirements.
A tweet can spread a message faster than any other platform can because of the concept of retweets. The ripple effect of retweets can spread news to millions within minutes. People can see the tweet, like it, retweet it, and potentially share their own thoughts on the subject.
On Instagram, the only way for a post with an included announcement can spread on a large scale is through Instagram’s “add post to your story” feature. People can see a post from an athlete they follow and share the post to their story for others to view, even if they don’t follow the athlete.
In other words, Instagram can spread an announcement from person to person at an exponential rate without the help of a sports broadcaster, just like Twitter can. Whether or not Instagram can spread news faster than Twitter becomes a question of how often is the “add post to your story” feature used. Unfortunately, the answer is that it’s way less used than retweets are. There is no way of measuring the number of shared posts on a story on Instagram, but Twitter counts its retweets, and the number can sometimes reach the one million mark, something Instagram could never replicate.
However, one last factor works in favor of Instagram: it has triple the amount of active users than Twitter does. So my question to you is: where Instagram lacks in reshares, can it make up in sheer volume of users? In other words, perhaps the number of people that saw Gronkowski’s retirement announcement was greater on Instagram than it was on Twitter simply because more people are on Instagram.
Gronkowski chose Instagram as the first place to announce his retirement and later tweeted his message a full day later. Perhaps he wanted to include the cool photo of himself holding the Vince Lombardi Trophy and Instagram emphasizes photos. Or maybe he wanted to use more than 280 characters in his message, which he went well beyond (1606 characters). But if you were a famous athlete, would you chose to announce your retirement on Instagram or Twitter? And would your option reach more people than the other option would?