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Even if fewer are sharing on Instagram, advertisers probably won't care

Social media apps including WhattsApp, LinkedIn, Twitter, FaceBook, Instagram, SnapChat and Periscope are displayed in a social media folder on the screen of an Apple Inc. iPhone
Chris Ratcliffe | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Fewer people may be sharing photos on Instagram, but should the company care?

A report Thursday in The Information said that according to two sources, the number of photos and videos posted on Instagram decreased between 2013 and 2015, despite more users signing up to the service.

But this decline, even if it continued into 2016, is unlikely to diminish advertisers' enthusiasm for the platform, according to several who spoke to CNBC.

"More users will always bring a decline in average shares or posts per user, on any social network," said William de Lannoy, director of communications strategy at creative media agency Noble People. "The early adopters were people that wanted to share photos. The late comers are more likely to just want to view those photos. And, having more of them is a good thing, because the platform is more about consuming photos than it is sharing them, anyway."

An Instagram spokesperson previously told CNBC regarding the claims of declining numbers: "We're thrilled with the continued strong growth and engagement of the Instagram community. Our community has grown to more than 500 million Instagrammers, and 300 million use Instagram every single day, spending an average of more than 21 minutes each day in the app."

Since Instagram sells ads based on the number of viewers rather than the number of posts, a decline in posts shouldn't impact its business model, said De Lannoy.

"The number (of posts) alone isn't much of a signal," he said. "If average time spent with the platform or number of times used per month is slipping, that may indicate a problem."

Diana Gordon, senior partner and group director of search and social at media and marketing agency Mindshare NA, added that Instagram has also recently made itself more appealing to marketers by opening up its advertising platform in the last 18 months. Brands now have access to all targeting and algorithmic information, similar to how the process works on Facebook.

"They're definitely still the major players to advertise on," she said.

While there are buzzy social media companies like Snapchat, Noble People's de Lannoy said advertising on both apps serve different purposes. Some of Snapchat's popular advertising options – like filters you can put over photos called Lenses – are different from what you would see on Instagram or Facebook. De Lannoy added the 24-hour expiration date on posts gives marketers a completely different reason for using Snapchat.

"Snapchat is an obvious rival for Instagram, but only an indirect one, for now," he said. "To categorize both as 'photo and video sharing apps' misses the point. The core functionality of Snapchat is more akin to instant messaging than it is Instagram."

Gordon said that Instagram is still a great place for visual storytelling. However, she believes if it wants to continue to stay relevant, the platform needs to address current trends around real-time posts and the ability to stream content.

"Instagram still needs to continue to recognize who their audience is and what the trends in social sharing are," she said.