Instagram is arguably the most influential platform available for people right now, particularly those aged 16-28. In this Instagram Blog Series, we will publish 3 parts that go into an exciting exploration on the evolution of the app, how it has developed and adapted alongside its competitors and the increasing requirement changes of its users. Enjoy and be sure to leave any comments with your own thoughts.
So, if you need food inspo where do you go? Instagram. If you need holiday suggestions? Instagram. If you need fashion ideas? Instagram. Looking for a cute dog picture? Type into the tag search bar ‘#puppylove’ and you shall be inundated with 34.9 million images to drool over. It has without a doubt redefined connectivity and shaped how we view much of the world today. Instagram has allowed us to dream more, share more, connect more and significantly, it is now serving as one of the top promotional business tools.
Instagram has come a long way since its launch in 2010. Founders; Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger introduced the app with the simple idea that individuals could share images that were impressive, well thought out and eye-catching. It can be argued that the app was aimed at professional photographers alone – whether this was a conscious decision or not, I don’t know. In 2019, the app is hardly recognisable from its original aesthetic and abilities. Let’s go through a brief history on the evolution of Instagram, is it continuing to be as impactful as it was in the beginning?
The app began with an old-school look, with the polaroid camera logo display, later to become a pretty iconic image when it was scrapped and replaced with the simpler, multi-coloured icon we have today. In terms of the feed, images could only be posted in square format and each post was viewed systematically, at the time it was posted, with the ability to ‘like’ and ‘comment’. A more basic version of the explore page existed, with the ability to view trending posts and search images. That was kind of it… Instagram began with a minimalist idea, function and personality – and it worked. People loved the idea that they could share photos of their experiences and importantly, choose to view another users’ content with a quick follow. It was totally different to other social platforms like Facebook, which these days, is a pretty crowded stage. Text posts, images, links, ads, pages, groups etc, prevent users from keeping up with and viewing content that they’re actually interested in seeing.
In the eight years that have followed, Instagram has undergone some radical changes. Some more impactful than others. In just the first 3 years of its launch, Instagram acquired 150 million monthly users. The first significant update the app released in terms of its user service was the introduction of video content. This opened Instagram up to a market beyond users who just liked to take photos. Videographers now had the opportunity to share their content in an accessible and easy way, as well as allowing amateur videographers like ourselves to create and share their experiences more instantly. This update arguably encouraged users to become more personal with the content they were sharing. It is here where we begin to see the shift from the original, meticulous basis that Instagram was created upon, to the more ‘carefree’ creating and sharing of content. They would soon realise that in order for Instagram to remain fresh and relevant, they would need to be making fast updates and changes not least to compete with other social platform creators but to keep up with the type of Instagram users that were evolving. We will go into this further in parts 2 and 3.
In terms of the platform’s further updates, one that really changed the game for its users and took Instagram into a new era was the introduction of ‘Stories’. It’s safe to say that it took everyone a while to get used to this one, right? People just weren’t quite sure. It was such a radical change especially for Instagram users that had been in it since 2010. By introducing this update, developers were actively taking Instagram and its original values in a different direction. Developers had little choice in introducing this update, once Snapchat had come up with the idea, it was rapidly becoming the most talked about feature in social media. Instagram had to follow suit in order to compete and grow.
By allowing users to upload an ‘in the moment’ image or clip that only lasted 24 hours, you are introducing a new kind of connectivity. It is that much more instant, personal and exciting. Furthermore, the fact that users must actively choose whether to view the story or not is crucial. It again increases the personalisation of the platform and creates a different kind of engagement. For example, when you publish a post on Instagram it is not guaranteed that all of your followers are going to see it, significantly now that the feed is based on an algorithm. By posting a story you are inviting users to make more of a precise choice in sharing your experience with them – one that goes beyond just following your account. We think, and perhaps speak for many Instagram users who have finally warmed up to it, that stories are awesome and are one of the most exciting features of the app.
That’s it for Part 1 – what are your thoughts? In Part 2 we will look at how Instagram has created a new kind of celebrity as well as the introduction of Instagram Business tools.