QUESTION: Why did Facebook Inc. pay $1 billion for Instagram?

ANSWER: So that instead of worrying about how many people joined Instagram (and abandoned Facebook), they could brag about it.

Are you on Instagram? I am. All of my family is. ALL of my family is. Daughters, granddaughters, in-laws, outlaws. All of them. All of my close friends are, too. And a few hundred other people I don’t know, who looked me up or found me through a hashtag. Are you on?

Do you post on Instagram? I do. Almost every day. Why? Because I take pictures on my iPhone that I believe are worth sharing. That’s what Instagram is all about. With more that 130 million users, Instagram is what’s new and what’s next. If you doubt it, ask yourself why Facebook bought for a billion dollars a company that never made a dime of profit.

I’m certain that in a Facebook marketing research laboratory someplace in Silicon Valley, they’re talking about Instaface or Facegram.  

Instagram is an app of the future. It’s really only usable on mobile and tablet devices. But it makes sense because mobile is where you take pictures.

Take a look at mine @jeffreygitomer

Here’s what Instagram offers to your social media mix:
• It’s instant. Shoot the photo, minor edit, short description, add the people you’re with or the location where the photo was taken, and post it.
• It takes less time than other social media. Not just for you, but for everyone else you’re connected to.
• People typically post positive things. They “like” it, and they can say a few words.
• It’s personal. Family sees family. Friends see friends. And you are able to stay in touch with family friends in a personal way. KEY: Invite your family and friends to join you.
• It’s available to others. Your business friends and close customers can get a glimpse of your personal side without all the Facebook crap and your past life.
• You don’t have to be a writer, just a smartphone user. Very few words are needed – just photos and short videos.
• There’s a chance to be “liked.” For your photos, your travels, your creativity, your career, your achievements, your cute kids, your passions and your family.
• There’s a chance to comment. And you can send words of praise to those you follow.
• There’s a chance to acknowledge others. When you appear in a photo with others or want to send them a message.
• It’s fun. It is by far my favorite of the social media options.

IT’S NOT A TREND; IT’S A MOVEMENT: Kids are ON IT, and ALL OVER IT. My grandchildren have all but abandoned Facebook in favor of Instagram.

NOTE: I just texted Morgan, my 15-year-old granddaughter, and asked her when her last post on Facebook was. “Sept. 16, 2012” (Almost a year ago – and she was on it every hour before then). Last post on Instagram? “Yesterday.” Morgan has 447 followers (knows most of them), is following 272 people, and has posted 584 photos. She is the future of Instagram – and Facebook knows it. 

Here are a few more things about Instagram that will help you learn more and take full advantage of the opportunity:
• Hashtag (#) search for a few things you love, and find a few people to follow who have similar interests. I follow people who photograph Paris. It has led me to some amazing photographers.
• Be authentic – post your own photos.
• Study the experts. There are hundreds of them on Instagram.

Do it. If you’re already doing it, improve and expand your doing. It’s an easy way to share joy, memories and passions. Oh, and it’s FREE.