Ten years of Instagram: from simple photo app to influencer goldmine

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A plate full of #foodporn, holiday snaps or your toddler’s first steps: all the important (and less important) moments in life are accompanied by the necessary posts, likes and stories. Exactly ten years ago, the then unknown photo app Instagram made its debut in the app store. The app has since changed the media landscape for good.

Facebook counts down 1 billion dollars for Instagram

Founders Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom’s intentions were considerably more modest in 2010. They wanted to provide users with an easy way to check in at locations, create their own images there, and show them to the rest of the world.

Leading up to the app’s release, Systrom and Krieger studied other popular photo apps. They saw that competitor Hipstamatic was innovative with its own filters, but that sharing the photos was not easy. Facebook stood out as a social network; but there was also a simple function to share photos at the time.

The two decided to jump into that hole and the Burbn app – Systrom loved Bourbon whiskey – was born. When the app appeared on October 6, 2010, the name was changed to Instagram: a combination of ‘instant camera’ and ‘telegram’. The app was only available for iPhones at first.

Simplicity became the focus. In about three clicks a user could post a photo: shoot, choose filter and share. It was also possible to add a location. Then people could follow each other, ‘like’ or comment on posts. Everything revolved around the creative process: expressing your own creativity and art instead of sharing other people’s creations. The latter is therefore not possible; you cannot share Instagram posts directly to your own account.

Instagram, with its vintage looking filters and square images, became popular in no time. After a month, the app had one million active users. In 2012, the app had about 30 million users worldwide.

The founders of Instagram: Mike Krieger (in light shirt on left) and Kevin Systrom (in dark sweater on right). (Source: ANP)

In 2012, the year Instagram became available on Android, the app was bought by Facebook. The company paid 1 billion dollars (more than 853 million euros) for this. Never before has people gone so deeply into their pockets for an app. For Facebook, Instagram is a new way to advertise. Instagram, on which people often share photos of their interests, helps Facebook to compile user profiles even more specifically. This way, advertisements can be used more specifically.

The consequences of the takeover soon became apparent. New possibilities and functions appear; such as sending a private message (Direct Message) or posting short videos.

Not only Facebook, the user also knows how to make a profit from the social platform. Instagram made it easier to create your own podium with followers, including financial opportunities.

In 2016, the so-called ‘influencer’ was even included in the dictionary. In short: a person who influences other people to buy a product, service or generate awareness. Today, the American reality star and entrepreneur Kylie Jenner is perhaps one of the best-known examples; for a sponsored post it receives roughly 1 million euros.

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