A while ago, we took a look at the annuls of #Twistory, the evolution of the social media giant, Twitter. Now it’s time to turn back the clock again and examine how the prolific photo sharing app, Instagram, became the juggernaut it is today. A company that got its start in 2010 as a small startup has managed to revolutionize the social media landscape in less than a decade; but how? Below, the social media marketing experts here at Little Egg Solutions take a deeper look into the combination of skill, innovation, cooperation, and integration (with a dash of luck and good timing) that helped to make Instagram into an #Insta-Classic!
Just a couple of friends, changing the world, one square photo at a time.
While he was still working for Nextstop, Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom created an HTML5 application called Burbn that combined elements from FourSquare and Mafia Wars: check-ins, event planning, socialization rewards, and photo-sharing, among many other features. After tweaking and polishing the Burbn prototype until it shone, Systrom left Nextstop to strike out on his own to find a team and make Burbn a reality.
When his friend and business partner, Mike Kriegel, joined the team, they decided to focus the app on mobile photography, and they cut it down to the bare minimum: photo posting, commenting, liking. They changed the name to Instagram as a reference to instant cameras (from which the signature square photo aesthetic arose) and the long-distance communications progenitor, the telegram. Eight weeks after the shift, it was ready to launch in the Apple App Store. What came next was a perfect storm of luck, timing, and old-fashioned networking that turned the pet-project of two engineers-turned-entrepreneurs with stars in their eyes into an #Insta-Classic.
(It was literally instant, too.)
As Systrom noted in his description of the company’s start, Instagram was immediately, and incredibly, popular; it soared to the #1 Free Photography App spot only hours after its launch. The unexpected and overwhelming response actually crashed their servers, and former Facebook CTO Adam D’Angelo walked the co-founders through getting back online in the middle of the night. Both the instant success and the friend-to-the-rescue were the result of face-to-face networking and the power of word-of-mouth.
The friends and investors that made it possible for Systrom and Kriegel to build and launch Instagram were the first beta testers, and they spread the word. The prototype for Burbn, and later Instagram, was first released privately, and those who used it wanted more. It was this demand and the endorsements that followed, along with some savvy business sense, that helped put Instagram on the social media map (and keep it there).
Fast-forward seven years: Instagram is everywhere.
Instagram has come a long way in the time since its 2010 Apple-only launch. Instagram is available on all major mobile and desktop operating systems, and, after a $1 billion cash-and-stock buyout in 2012, the app has been integrated into its now-parent platform, Facebook. Unofficial third-party services, as with many successful apps, abound.
Much like Twitter, the native features of Instagram, like hashtags and geolocation, and its huge user-base (a whopping 700 million monthly active users as of April 26, 2017) make it a marketer’s dream. Integrated business tools make it easier than ever to monetize posts and track engagement. Instagram has become an industry leader in its own right, spawning new occupations and propelling careers with the tap of a screen or the touch of a button.
With such a prolific reach, and such phenomenal success right out of the gate, the history of Instagram is a parable for small business owners to learn from. Flexibility, innovation, and networking are the key to building a billion-dollar company out of two friends, a little app, and a big dream. It pays to have an expert in your corner to help expect the unexpected, manage the workload, and get you back on track. That’s exactly why management firms like Little Egg Solutions exist; we help you become an #Insta-Classic, too!