Celebration time for Facebook as Instagram now has 300 million active users, but still falls behind Twitter for total users.

Instagram was acquired by Facebook for a billion dollars in 2012 and at the time there was a lot of concern around what that would do to the growth of the social network. It looks like the acquisition had no impact on Instagram’s ability to gain users. At the end of the last quarter, Instagram passed Twitter for monthly active users. When the report was revealed, many onlookers pointed out that Instagram was in turn – going to be crowned the new number two in social networking.

However, it would be disingenuous to call Instagram the winner without evaluating some of the other external factors, and metrics used to evaluate the performance of a social network. Many entities jumped to the conclusion that Instagram was the well-defined winner, but there’s more to this story than meets the eye initially.

Right now, Instagram is only beginning to get into advertising, and Mark Zuckerberg – the Facebook founder is comfortable running Instagram as its own separate company. This is a move that has allowed Instagram that freedom and wiggle-room to work on its own without being hampered, or tied down by the social networking giant. Facebook is widely viewed as a social network for older people – while Instagram has a younger crowd. Even the CEO of Instagram pointed out that “Instagram can help continue to engage generations of people that may not be on Facebook yet.”

That means younger people. Engaging a younger crowd with an image heavy social networking platform works because it’s unique. It works for that very reason. Twitter though works very well in its own regard, and considering the reach and the stature that Twitter has in the social networking space – it’s still significantly larger than Instagram. Twitter has 284 monthly active users as of the last quarter that Twitter released those numbers, and that is only slightly behind Instagram when compared head-to-head. That being said though, when compared to Facebook – both monthly active user counts seem small.

Twitter has a greater reach because it has a greater impact on social media. Twitter is about trends, often used by hardcore social networkers, and isn’t great for “occasional use.” That being said, many are pointing out to the simple fact that not many people can remember the last time someone – like a celebrity or entertainer – made news for an Instagram post. Meanwhile, Tweets are constantly a part of media scrutiny and even end up in the news – more times than not.

Let’s not forget, until now it’s even been difficult to really keep an eye on trends through Facebook since the company just updated their search parameters to allow users to search by keyword. Another positive note that works in favor of Twitter is the fact that last month – Twitter had 500 million visitors – and those users weren’t even logged in. Plus, the privacy parameters are vastly different on the two social networks – almost working to reach two completely different audiences.

See Also: Facebook’s Graph Search coming on iOS with ‘Keyword Search’ feature.

While many are eager to crown Instagram the new runner-up social network – it’s worth remembering that WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger also carry larger active user counts than Twitter or Instagram. So, in terms of actual advertising revenue that could potentially be tapped – because that’s ultimately what active users equate to – a bigger and better opportunity for the companies to cash in with advertisers – Twitter is still in a very nice place. WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger carry 600 million and 500 million users respectively.

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