What a difference a year makes?! Think about how your Instagram feed looked last year versus how it looks this year. Completely different right? For those who don’t have an Instagram account or don’t remember Instagram before all the updates, here’s how Instagram positioned itself as the third most popular social media app and the best social media app of 2016.
Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger started Instagram in 2010 as a platform to capture and share the world’s moments. In 2012, Instagram joined Facebook with just over 50 million Instagrammers around the world and a 16-person team. Since 2010, Instagram continued to see an increase in users and content. From the first picture of a dog posted by co-founder Kevin Systrom in 2010, Instagram now sees an average of 95 million photos and videos a day. Instagram saw tremendous growth in the past year. From 500 million users this Spring to over 600 million users to date, Instagram grew 20% in only a few months and may soon reach the numbers of its parent company, Facebook, which has over a billion users.
Just last year, Instagram began to lose some of its traction, especially with teens, to social media companies like SnapChat and musical.ly. But instead of becoming a distant memory, like Myspace, Instagram added similar features as other apps with an “Instagrammy” twist. This keeps them relevant and offers users competitive features all in one place. Other social media sites could benefit from this approach.
Ultimately, social media users leave the platform if they can find something better somewhere else. In Instagram’s 6-year-span, companies have come close, but have yet to dominate Instagram in the world of photo and video sharing social media platforms. Twitter saw a decrease in users over the past year and even death of their beloved 6-second video-clip sharing app, Vine.
In an article entitled ‘Why Vine Died,’ Casey Newman reported the following, “Former executives say that a major competitive challenged emerged in the form of Instagram, which introduced 15-second video clips in June 2013.
‘Instagram video was the beginning of the end,’ one former [Vine] executive told me. ‘[Vine] didn’t move fast enough to differentiate.’”
Apps like Vine and its parent company Twitter struggle to monetize and stay relevant, but Instagram remained stable with the introduction of new features like stories and video channels, resources of it’s parent company, Facebook, and the introduction of ads to the platform that look very similar to the posts in a user’s feed.
In addition to a total logo redesign, Instagram shifted its focus from just pictures, to longer video (from 15 sec. to one minute) and direct messaging features, such as group posts and disappearing video. Explore Channels in Discover let people discover new photo and video content based on interests. Instagram Stories added a new element to the Instagram experience showing highlights from friends, celebrities and businesses one follows without interfering with their feed. Instagram also caters to business needs through its Instagram for Business platform that allows for instant contact, detailed analytics and easy-to-follow linked content.
Most recently, Instagram released live video in their stories feature. Users can start a live stream in their Instagram story and view comments and feedback from their viewers in real time! This feature is similar to apps like musical.ly and live.ly which has over 80 million users and 62% of its users are under 21.
Working for Instagram this summer as a Product Marketing intern (that’s me in the picture from the release of Instagram Stories), I saw firsthand how they created new features, including the launch of stories. Instagram is all about creativity and giving people a means to express themselves and their latest features offer more of that. Throughout their creation process, the people that use the platform are always top of mind.
I find myself spending more time on Instagram. During school, I spend less time on social media, but since being home for winter break, Instagram is my main social medium.
Like Facebook, it has the familiarity of people I know, but also allows me to discover new people and trends, like on Twitter, and search relevant video content like on YouTube, all in one place.
Instagram has repositioned itself as an all-around social media application, not just one for sharing photos. What’s next for the platform I so affectionately call “the gram”? While I can’t say what’s next for Instagram, I know the platform will continue to expand features and grow globally. I’m sure next year when I think back on my Instagram experience it will be even better!
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#MillennialMondays is a new series that aims to discuss relevant topics on careers and business from a millennial perspective. Feel free to follow me to stay up to date on the latest articles. Have a question or suggestion? Ask your questions and suggest topics in the comments below.