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A Brief History of Instagram

Instagram is an application that we have come to expect to use whenever we make use of our smartphones. It was founded in 2010 and Instagram has seamlessly integrated into our lives less than 10 years. Instagram is now popular not just from a consumer standpoint, but also in the world of digital marketing and boasts over millions of active users on a monthly basis as of today. How did this happen? What’s the history behind Instagram? Find out what happened to it:

Conceptualisation — Humble Beginnings

Its popularity grew in 2010 when Instagram was created as Burbn in 2010 in 2010 by Kevin Systrom, an app that connects people from all over the globe, promoting the individual’s status whenever they visited a new place. In less than two weeks following discussions with venture companies, Systrom earned $500,000 in financing. After that Systrom began looking for a partner and finally came across Mike Krieger.

In the following years, Burbn underwent a drastic revision. Krieger and Systrom realized that their idea was not as similar to the well-known mobile app Foursquare. They also discovered a significant trend: social media communication was increasing. Users of Burbn “were publishing and sharing images with a furious speed”. They then re-invented the concept to become what we call Instagram now.

(Did You Not Know? “Instagram” got its name from an amalgamation from “instant camera” and “telegram”!)

Launch — aim at the Moon

On the 6th of October in 2010 Instagram was officially launched. The buzz immediately increased; Instagram gained 1 million users in only three months. It was followed by 2 million in the six weeks following the milestone. To give you a sense of how long it took the timeline, Facebook took Facebook about 10 months before it reached one million users, Twitter 24 months while Tumblr for 27 months.

The first Instagram version Instagram was simple. You could upload photos and comments, like, or comment or follow others. In September of 2011, Instagram introduced a new icon for its app that offered a variety choices of settings for cameras and settings within the app like one-touch rotation as well as new camera effects. In conjunction with the continuous improvements on the iPhone cameras, photography on phones increased in popularity; that in turn, helped Instagram’s rise to the limelight.

It was April 2012 that brought about the most significant change: Instagram was brought to the Android operating system. This set the stage for an entirely new market that led to Instagram’s next milestone in the time: reaching 50 million people who use the service. This was the moment that Instagram proved it was there to stay.

Acquisition — A New Turning Point

In the same year it was announced that the Facebook acquisition of Instagram announcement spread like wildfire and spread like wildfire. Facebook has bought Instagram at a price of $1billion. It was unimaginable to purchase an enterprise with just 13 employees for this amount. There was speculation that Facebook bought Instagram due to anxiety about competition, considering that their users almost coincided. Other theories, based on the latest leaks from anonymous sources, speculated that Facebook purchased Instagram to compete with other competitors, such as Twitter and Google which were looking to purchase the new appealing, beautiful photo-sharing platform. Facebook has refused to refute or verify this assertion.

Whatever the reason the reasons Facebook bought Instagram it was well-supported by Facebook’s persistent efforts to broaden its offerings in the years since. In June of 2013, Instagram no longer was an only a platform for images; it added video-sharing capabilities, through which users could upload and share videos. Since December 2013 Instagram launched Instagram Direct as a private messaging service also known as “DMs” currently. In November of 2016, Instagram brought to life Instagram Live, which essentially are live streams on which users can broadcast their music, events or just live news to followers at a moment’s notice. With each new feature Instagram introduced the possibility of ways for businesses to increase their reach and increase their marketing.

Assistance — Helping Businesses

Instagram recognized its strengths as a tool for marketing particularly with its growing popularity across all generations that range starting from Gen X to Gen Z. From the time Facebook acquired Instagram until now it offers a myriad of features that allowed businesses to grow.

Sponsored Posts as technology became common in our life, Instagram introduced Sponsored Posts in November 2013 in which users could boost their most popular content to their intended viewers’ feeds. This was the first step in Instagram’s transformation into an advertising-focused platform.

Businesses Analytics “Insights”: In August 2014, Instagram allowed business accounts to see “Insights” that they could track their performance each week, from their Accounts Reached, to the number of interactions.

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Advertising Features: While it began to blossom in 2013 as a enticing chance for companies to reach new audience members, Instagram only completely fleshed out its potential in 2015. Businesses are now able to create ads through Instagram Stories, use Facebook Pixel to track their customers’ interests, track how well their advertisements are performing, and link with Facebook Ads Manager for multi-platform marketing.

Shop: Alongside other major updates, 2020 saw a dramatic growth in the various features of Instagram. One notable addition, which is located just to the right of “Post” button is Shop. Businesses now have the ability to show their product and prices directly on the app and allow users to browse through their feeds and experience an online shopping experience.

Competition — Keeping in with the generation of Millennials Gen Z

In recent years, different social media platforms have accelerated their penetration into our daily lives including Snapchat and its revolutionary communications process, and TikTok to cater to our short attention time. In the hope of keeping its users who are its mainstays, Instagram has attempted to develop similar features that its rivals do not have.

It’s the Battle Against Snapchat: Instagram Stories

Snapchat’s popularity stems from its unique way of communicating that allows users to swipe left on a friend and snap an instant photo to them. The length of time the photo is displayed can be set from 1 up to 10 seconds. In addition, Snapchat allows users to make videos and photos the site’s “My Story” and they will show the story to their followers and friends for 24 hours.

In an effort to be competitive, Instagram announced the beloved Instagram Story feature, which is still popular today. Like Snapchat Stories, Instagram Stories lets users post pictures and videos in 24 hours and then show it to their followers.

The result? Instagram Stories, though developed following Snapchat’s, had 250 million active users per day while Snapchat was able to maintain its number of users, which stood at 166 million as of the year 2018.

In a quantitative perspective, Instagram undoubtedly wins out with regular customers. Both platforms have advantages and differences in the way they market your business , as they appeal to various customers. Thus, it is wrong to conclude that Snapchat doesn’t have any potential advertising opportunities, but in recent times, a variety of speculations and theories are suggesting that Snapchat is slowly becoming less appealing.

The Combat Against Tiktok: Instagram Reels

In the brief time since it’s been in existence, TikTok has experienced rapid increase in popularity, ranging to 300 million in the month of January, 2019 to over 800 million by January 2020. The main reason for this is the ability editing and uploading of video clips, the fresh algorithm that is based on content and community-building feature “Duet”.

In view of growing popularity of TikTok, Instagram rolled out its own features: Instagram Reels and Instagram Remix. Instagram Reels are designed to serve the similar purpose of TikTok videos, a quick-form video feature. Meanwhile, Instagram Remix is an exact match to the TikTok Duet function, which allows users to create videos alongside someone else’s Reel. Although it’s too early to know if Instagram Reels & Remix will get the same attention similar to Instagram Stories, one thing can be said for certain is the fact that different platforms are likely to be able to catch up and will be able to create a massive rivalry to catch the young generation’s focus.


It was initially created as an easy photo-sharing service, Instagram has emerged as an effective channel for marketing for businesses and an integral component of our regular social media habits. It’s clear of the fact that Instagram is likely to develop into the future, remaining present to our lives for a time. If you’re not yet read more of our blog posts to learn the ways you can make use of social media and other platforms to improve your marketing efforts for your business!