On October 6th, 2010, a new app that allowed people to share square photos with preset beautification filters debuted on iOS. Two years later, after amassing 30 million users, Instagram sold to Facebook for an unprecedented $1 billion.
One of Instagram’s keys to success was seeing the mobile future that lies ahead. As the platform has evolved, adding video, multimedia posts, Stories, face and GIF-like filters, as well as livestreaming capabilities, Instagram continues to define and refine the rules of online social interaction.
For their part, Instagram’s users — now numbering more than 1 billion — have eagerly adopted many of the platform’s tools. For instance, Instagram Stories, the 60-second, disappearing video feature borrowed from Snapchat, took just 8 months to overtake its originator.
On its surface, Instagram remains a simple, streamlined media-sharing app. However, the platform’s elegant integration of sharing tools and algorithmic modifications have made it a robust network for connecting people through a variety of digital mediums. These various Instagram features make it one of the fastest growing social media sites.
With how prevalent videos are on the platform today, it’s remarkable to consider that Instagram started as a photo-only network. Opening the platform up to 15-second videos back in 2013, Instagram later increased feed video limits to 60-seconds. Today, Instagram videos are no longer confined to feeds, nor are they all restricted to the same format or time limit.
At 400 million daily users, Instagram Stories are double the size of Snapchat’s entire network. As a growing medium for communication, Chris Cox, Facebook’s Chief Product Officer, predicts that ephemeral media, such as Stories, will become the dominant way we share information on social in 2019.
In recent years, YouTube, Facebook, and other networks have been trying to spark users’ interests in broadcasting and watching live video. However, Instagram’s integration of live video into its popular Stories feature may be the mechanism by which “live” finds mainstream acceptance. Following up with live replays and the ability to add guests, Instagram is making livestreaming a more accessible and intriguing proposition for its users.
Instagram allows users to send text, photos, and videos through direct message. While some of that sent media previously disappeared forever, photos and videos can now be replayed, remixed, and resent. Additionally, Instagram allows live video chatting for up to four people in a single stream.
One thing that’s kept Snapchat users loyal has been the platform’s powerful messaging features. With Instagram’s new offerings, however, Snapchat messaging could suffer similar attrition to Stories. Anecdotally, Q2 2018 saw Snapchat losing 3 million users — a first for the company.
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In June of this year, Instagram made its foray into long-form content with the launch of IGTV. The separate app and integrated service allows vertical videos up to 60-minutes in length. Aimed at YouTube’s creators and audience, it’s too soon to know whether IGTV will be successful at attracting more people and increasing watch-time. However, Instagram’s ability to reimagine popular formats for their users has been one of the platform’s strengths.
Many bloggers use social media to promote their posts and websites. Increasingly, bloggers who use platforms like Instagram to advertise are also becoming influencers on the platform.
Some users have even taken advantage of the 2,200 character limit within photo and video captions to give blog style updates, circumventing the traditional blog format altogether.
Instagram has had a dramatic influence on the digital landscape. Driving massive global growth, the eight-year-old social platform has led the charge toward mobile, disrupted networks like Snapchat, as well as re-envisioned online video and blogging for today’s eager audiences.
Instagram has also masterfully created an environment where promotion and advertisements feel more organic than on other networks. According to COO, Marne Levine, 80% of users connect with businesses on Instagram. Speaking about Instagram’s plans at Advertising Week last year, Marne commented, “With respect to businesses, we’ve really only just begun.”
Related Post: Will Instagram Overtake YouTube With Launch Of IGTV?
Instagram has come a long way since its stylized square-photo beginnings. Refusing to remain stationary, the platform’s innovations have helped to push its monumental growth. However, whether Instagram can keep up its current winning streak remains to be seen.
As a sophisticated business, Instagram has more at stake than ever. With 1 billion users, a vast community of micro and macro-influencers who produce content and drive engagement, as well as a growing number of brands eager to do business, Instagram is faced with creating personal, professional, and commercial experiences that are fulfilling to everyone in their network.
For marketers, understanding how the community uses and interacts with Instagram features can offer insights into the best ways to reach and engage audiences. By setting a quality foundation and building strong relationships on Instagram, brands can find opportunities to grow alongside the platform and flourish in today’s digital landscape.