When a social network increases from one million to 100 million registered users in just two years, you know it’s on to something.
Launched in October 2010, Instagram is now the world’s most successful free photo sharing social network. The app allows users to take photos in the style of a digital polaroid and apply filters, giving all users the opportunity to become a photographer.
The app is available on iPad, iPhone, iPod Touch and now Android camera phones running the operating system 2.2 or higher.
Instagram’s success comes from the ability to follow friends or hashtags of interest and share photos, not only on Instagram, but also on other social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and Tumblr.
The main attraction to Instagram is the fact that everyone has a story and wants to share it. Whether you are a single user, a business or a not-for-profit organisation, a picture tells a thousand words and everyone is jumping on board to use Instagram as a story telling, communications or campaigning tool.
For example, Tiffany and Co (one of the world’s leading designers of jewellery and renowned for its ‘love story’ campaign) wanted to show that fairytale moments can happen in real life, and so created a #truelovepictures campaign on Instagram.
Tiffany provided users with romantic phrases like “My heart skips a beat when…” and asked people to use the #truelovepictures hashtag to share photos of their own love stories and fill in the blanks.
They launched a Tiffany gallery by using images from Instagram users “The Sartorialist” and “Garance Doré” and invited other Instagrammers with romantic sensibilities to participate.
Tiffany even offered to turn digital submissions into physical postcards and mail them to that “special someone.” The interactive campaign was so successful in creating brand awareness that they have since launched a subsequent campaign called #TimelessTrueLove.
Instagram users aren’t the only ones who’ve noticed its popularity and value. In April 2012 Facebook co-creator and CEO Mark Zuckerberg made his biggest acquisition ever, buying Instagram for $1 billion in cash and stock. He has vowed to keep Facebook and Instagram separate, understanding the value and importance of each.
“We’re committed to building and growing Instagram independently. Millions of people around the world love the Instagram app and the brand associated with it, and our goal is to help spread this app and brand to even more people,” Zuckerberg said via his personal Facebook page, noting the success of photo sharing on Facebook.
“Providing the best photo sharing experience is one reason why so many people love Facebook and we knew it would be worth bringing these two companies together.”
To demonstrate the significance of this purchase and to put it in context, Flickr, which has become one of the web’s most popular photo websites, was purchased by Yahoo! for just $35 million.
Instagram allows people to do what they have always loved doing – taking photos of their lives and sharing them with friends and family. If anyone is still debating whether or not they should be on Instagram consider this: To date, over one billion photos have been shared on Instagram, at a rate of 58 photos per second. As a communications tool, it’s an opportunity not to be missed. Instagram not only offers an avenue to promote your brand visually, but also to target and interact with your audience in a very unique and personal way.