Instagram announced 800 million monthly active users and 500 million daily active users on September 25, 2017. Instagram has come a long way since it launched in 2010. When it was acquired by Facebook in 2012 for $1B, it had 30 million users. With last year’s introduction of Stories and improved messaging functionality, Instagram not only stole Snapchat’s thunder, but seemed to accelerate its own user growth.
In the year following Instagram Stories’ introduction, Instagram grew by an additional 100 million users, and it continues to grow at an unprecedented rate. In the past 5 months, Instagram added an average of 653,595 users per day.
Based on growth projections, we expect Instagram to hit 1 billion users by January 5th, 2018. Instagram, owned by Facebook, will be Facebook’s fourth platform to reach a billion users (previously only been achieved by Facebook itself, WhatsApp, and then Messenger).
In order to forecast Instagram’s user growth, we looked at patterns between Instagram’s monthly active user counts and the time it took for Instagram to reach each milestone. Using a logarithmic function, we determined that the social media platform will reach 1 billion users shortly after 2018:
In our analysis, we plotted Instagram’s historical five-year user growth data from July 2012 to September 2017. User data from Instagram’s launch in 2010 to 2012 was omitted as it does not reflect Instagram’s current maturation stage and the effects of its acquisition.
Our prediction, which demonstrates a strong statistical fit (R-squared = 0.98), also shows that Instagram will still be experiencing an increasing growth rate in the coming months. Based on past trends, our prediction is reasonable. Growth from 300 million to 400 million users took 286 days, while growth from 600 million to 700 million users took only 126 days. We predict that it will take about 100 days for Instagram to grow from 800 million to 1 billion users.
Our prediction assumes that Instagram will continue to experience an accelerated growth rate and assumes that Instagram will remain in its current maturity for the coming months. Further, our prediction does not account for any changes Instagram makes that may lead to slowed user growth.
Instagram’s fast-paced user growth further increases the platform’s value to advertisers. Instagram provides advertisers with opportunities to reach new audiences in innovative ways, and soon, Instagram will become an all-encompassing platform for marketers to reach most of the people on mobile social media.
Further, Facebook’s strong user base of 2 billion is a sign that Instagram is not finished growing. Facebook has clearly demonstrated that Instagram can act as its complement through the implementation of new features such as Instagram to Facebook Stories cross-posting. This recently added function will expose Facebook-only users to Instagram content and may help to further accelerate Instagram’s user growth.
Growth in advertising has already been significant on Instagram. The platform recently disclosed that it now services over 2 million advertisers, up from 1 million in March 2017. Marketers have been attracted to Instagram because it gives brands the capacity to target very specific audiences through native advertising and influencer marketing practices. As Instagram continues to grow, innovative social media marketing strategies will continue to reshape the marketing and advertising landscape.