Marketing Matters: History of Instagram 

Instagram hit the app stores in October 2010 and, within two months, had acquired a million users. It quickly became popular due to its simple, user-friendly design and unique photo-filtering capabilities. The app was initially called Burbn, as its founders were quite fond of the drink.

Mike Krieger, one of the creators of Instagram, made the very first post on July 16, 2010, at 5:26 pm. It was a picture of South Beach Harbor at Pier 38. A few hours later, at 9:24 pm, the other creator, Kevin Systrom, posted his first picture. It was a photo of a dog and his girlfriend’s foot.

In April 2012, Facebook acquired the company for a staggering $1 billion. This acquisition opened doors to vast opportunities in advertising, thanks to Facebook’s already established ad infrastructure. In a year, the number of users has increased to over one billion!

Instagram launched advertising features in 2013. The first-ever Instagram ad was a watch by Michael Kors, and it reportedly received a surge of 370% in likes compared to the brand’s non-sponsored posts.

Social media introduced the Carousel format in 2015, allowing advertisers to showcase multiple images in a single ad. This innovation enabled brands to tell more compelling stories and engage users more effectively. The same year, Instagram embraced video ads, providing brands a canvas to paint vivid, dynamic stories, elevating the user experience and advertising efficiency to unprecedented heights.

In 2016, there was a shift from a chronological feed to an algorithm-based feed, a significant move that played a role in content visibility and impacted advertising strategies.

Inspired by Snapchat, Instagram Stories were launched the same year, and they quickly became a cultural phenomenon. Recognizing the feature’s potential, Instagram introduced Story Ads in 2017, offering advertisers a fresh, immersive promotion avenue. Over 500 million users use Instagram Stories daily.

In a bid to compete with platforms like YouTube, Instagram launched IGTV in 2018. While it has not eclipsed its competitors, IGTV has become a fertile ground for longer-form content and, thus, a new space for advertising endeavors.

Taking a step further into e-commerce, Instagram unveiled the Shopping and Checkout features in 2019, facilitating seamless in-app purchasing experiences and opening a trove of opportunities for retail advertisers. Can you imagine that 130 million users tap on Instagram’s shopping posts each month?

In an attempt to ride the short-form video wave initiated by TikTok, Instagram launched Reels in 2020. Even though TikTok is still more popular, Reels offers its users more features.

A delightful addition, the Notes feature, arrived in December 2022, allowing users to share concise, 60-character text updates with selected individuals, fostering a more intimate and engaging user interaction.

February 2023 marked another milestone with the introduction of GIFs in comments, enabling users to express themselves more vibrantly. Additionally, Meta, Instagram’s parent company, began the sale of blue “verified” badges.

From a simple, user-friendly photo-sharing app, the platform has turned into a multi-functional platform interweaving social interaction, advertising, e-commerce, and creativity. Let’s see what happens next!