From being Tumblr’s lost cousin to becoming a mascot of Social Media: The Evolution of Instagram

When you open Instagram now, the home screen is revolutionarily different than how it was when it launched in 2010. You would not be able to recognise the app if not for the popularized logos and symbols that are still core to the app. As with most apps, Instagram has gone through multiple makeovers and it is now the world’s #1 photo-sharing app. 

But how did it all start? How has Instagram evolved? 

Origin Story

In 2009, Kevin Systrom, a 27-year-old Stanford University graduate, was just a normal citizen working at Nextstop, a travel recommendation startup. Learning to code on nights and weekends, he eventually built a prototype of a web app called Burbn. Burbn(inspired by his taste for fine whiskeys and bourbons) allowed users to check in, post their plans, and share photos. A fundamental turning point came when two venture capitalists from Baseline Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz decided to meet with Systrom about Burbn. With the $500,000 he raised in seed funding from both Baseline Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz, he further developed his entrepreneurial venture. This was the first hint at the notion of an app that would evolve exponentially through the years and make a permanent mark.

This funding allowed Systrom to start building a team of people to support his venture; the first to join him was fellow Stanford graduate, Mike Krieger. They wanted to focus on one primary thing: photographs specifically taken on mobile devices. They took a step backward and stripped Burbn down to its photo, commenting, and “liking” functions. It was at that time that they revamped their app and renamed it Instagram. 

Instagram is a portmanteau of “instant camera” and “telegram”. The Instagram app was launched on Oct. 6, 2010, and racked up 25,000 users in one day. By mid-December, the number of users had reached one million. Instagram has evolved to 1 billion active users as of 2022.

The app’s user base increased to almost 27 million people by March 2012. When Instagram for Android phones was introduced in April 2012, it was downloaded more than a million times in less than a day. The business was also on the verge of securing a $500 million valuation in a new round of funding at the time. 

Through Stanford-hosted parties, Systrom and Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg got to know one another, and they kept in touch as Instagram began to rapidly gain popularity. In April 2012, Instagram was purchased by Facebook for nearly $1 billion, despite the possibility that Instagram would not generate any money. The software gained more users as it gained notoriety, and in a matter of months it had 80 million users. Facebook moved forward and bought the business soon after, just before its first public offering (IPO), for $1 billion in cash and stock.

Instagram has evolved to 1 billion active users as of 2022.

Now, what exactly is the purpose of Instagram

Since then, the evolution of Instagram has made it one of the most, if not the most, influential social media apps on the market. It has gone through so many renovations and has inculcated so many features over the course of time that it can get a little overwhelming. 

So let’s get down to the basics.

Instagram is a social media platform that emphasizes photo and video sharing via its mobile app. You can take, edit, and publish visual content for both followers and non-followers as long as your account is public. Users can interact with your content via likes, comments, shares, and saves. Since its launch, Instagram has become a popular way to connect with brands, celebrities, thought leaders, friends, family, and more.

At its core, Instagram is a social network, and a highly visual one at that. Every time you open the app, you’ll be met with a main feed of recent posts from the accounts you follow. At the bottom is a menu bar, which is accessible anywhere you are in the app.

Uploading, editing, and posting photos

Even though there is a consistent level of evolution regarding the app, some basics remain the same. To post or upload a photo or video, you have to tap the “+” button at the bottom of the screen. The app allows you to select up to 10 photos and videos to post at once. You can apply a filter to your photos as well(which is fundamental to how Instagram works). Before you hit that share button, though, there are a number of things you can do:

  • Add a caption
  • Tag other people or accounts
  • Ping your location or any location so people will know where you are
  • You can also post to other social media accounts

Exploring and finding people to follow

The magnifying glass icon at the bottom of the app is the greatest place to look for individuals to follow. This will launch the Explore page, where you may browse a feed of posts that Instagram has determined you would be interested in. Another excellent method for finding content is to categorise the Explore page by topic. The page also allows you to search for users by name.

More Facebook than Facebook…

Instagram offers a direct messaging feature that enables you to have private conversations with anyone who follows you, in addition to leaving comments on other people’s posts. A message that you send to someone who is not a follower of yours will be placed in a separate folder called “message requests.” The other person must acknowledge the message in order to begin the conversation.

From new content to an always-expanding set of creative tools, Instagram offers plenty of opportunities for self-expression and creativity.

Let’s check out some of Instagram’s latest and greatest features:

Snapchat… but better.

Many people use Instagram exclusively for creating and viewing Instagram Stories, which are customizable posts that only last 24 hours. These posts, which could be a mix of photos and short-form videos, are presented in a slideshow format and accessible via the top of the home feed. It is a window to all the potential content that is broadcast on the app. Through creative and diverse elements, stories have stood the test of time with their trendy stickers and cartoons, polls and quizzes, dynamic song lyrics, links to donation funds and charities, and much more.

Instagram Live

Instagram Live is a feature that lets you “Livestream ”- basically, it’s a feature that lets you broadcast your live video from your device to anyone who wants to watch it. Viewers can send you messages and little emojis to support you. It can also be used to create awareness of a phenomenon. Moreover, it is just a quick and unscripted way to connect with your followers and respond to them in real time.

Instagram’s answer to Youtube…

IGTV is the home of longer-form video content on Instagram.

It’s a fantastic platform for showcasing goods, style advice, and detailed instructions — the kind of material that really connects with people and can foster long-lasting relationships. IGTV is a mobile-friendly platform for watching videos up to 60 minutes long. 

IGTV used to support only vertical (9:16) video. The platform has since changed to allow horizontal (16:9) video formats, giving creators who already share videos on YouTube new chances. 

Users have the option to post a 15 second teaser of a new video to their Instagram feed. This is one of the best ways to promote your IGTV video and increase video views.

Revenge is a dish best served in all Countries- Instagram Reels

You remember those movies where an underdog rises through the ranks even when he/she has no support but, through perseverance and being true to themselves, they beat the top dog and prove everyone wrong?

Yeah, that is sort of what happened with Instagram Reels and TikTok.

TikTok, the short-video platform, was an instant success in India soon after it launched in September 2016. TikTok came with support for 15 regional languages, which made it accessible to more people in the country. TikTok was banned in India on June 29, 2020, over national security issues.

Initially, Instagram Reels were met with heavy criticism and hate because it felt like a desperate attempt to piggyback on TikTok’s highly successful and popular business model. But when people saw the potential of Reels and how not just ordinary citizens but even big brands and corporations could use the influence of Reels to make their promotions, they started to embrace Reels & it has only gone upward since.

Instagram Reels, a competitor to TikTok, allows you to capture and upload brief films that are no longer than 15 seconds. A video can be edited, including music, text, and special effects, after it has been recorded. 

Reels is a built-in tool for creating content that syncs flawlessly with the other features users are currently accustomed to, including Stories, IGTV, and Instagram Shop. These are all methods by which Instagram raises its profile as a dependable social network rather than merely a conduit.

In the not so distant future…

The co-founder of Instagram, Kevin Systrom, said that people could come together with community users and show an objective view of the world around us in the future. The Evolution and curation of Instagram is a huge factor in this.

For business people today, Instagram communities are like a gold mine because, before it arrived, they couldn’t simply engage with the public and connect with several audiences on one platform. Due to Instagram’s expansion and popularity, companies also buy Instagram likes and followers in order to reach a large audience and establish their brand. Instagram is now the only networking site that has had consistent growth since last year. Instagram will eventually evolve into a platform or medium that allows us to view images and brief videos of what is happening in our communities, families, and worlds. The main features of Instagram are still being upgraded occasionally and include posting photographs, reels, and ITGV.

So here are 6 ways we think the future of Instagram is going to be molded:

  • Buying: Much like Facebook, there will be a whole element to how you can shop through Instagram.
  • IGTV will become more influential and powerful.
  • Improved Analytical Tools: Instagram is going to focus on improving analytical tools like data history, data collection over long periods, best performing posts, hashtag tracking, etc.
  • Variable Focus: Instagram will give users the option to open the app to the latest reels and stories rather than traditional video posts and feeds of images. 
  • More Awareness of Fake Followers: This can mean stricter rules and regulations regarding buying followers.
  • Augmented Reality Linkage