12 years after the first publication on Instagram: the history of the social network

The beginnings of the network

“It takes a lot of work to tweet something. There’s a lot of pressure on what you’re going to say. It is easier to publish a photograph” says Systrom in the book No Filter: The Inside Story of Instagram by Sarah Frier.

Over the past decade, Instagram’s popularity has revolved around psychology, rather than technology. Basically, his success was based on how he made people feel. “If Facebook was about friendships and Twitter was about opinions, Instagram was about experiences, and anyone could be interested in someone else’s visual experiences,” says Frier.

Before founding Instagram, Kevin Systron worked on an app called Burbn to share photos and locations. He later met Mike Krieger and it was he who highlighted the approach to photography. It was 2010, when camera smartphones and 3G were all the rage. Basically, anyone with a smartphone could become an amateur photographer; all that was needed was a place to post those photographs.

The first prototype of Instagram was called Scotch and it worked similar to Tinder: people swiped horizontally to see photos and with just a tap they gave like.

But the photographs back then were of poor quality and not “artistic” enough. And it was precisely in 2010 when Hipstamatic positioned itself as the best app in the Apple Store; an application that allowed editing photos but, above all, adding “filters” to make them look much better. Nicole Shuetz, Systrom’s girlfriend and now wife, realized that this was what Instagram needed and Systrom created the X-Pro II filter.

Instagram was officially launched to the public on October 6, 2010 and was a huge success. Even the first big celebrity to join was Snoop Dog and he was one of the first people to viralize the app, because he published his photo on Instagram simultaneously on Twitter where he had 2.5 million followers.

If you can’t beat the enemy, buy it

Thirteen people. That was the number of employees Instagram had in 2012 when it was acquired by Facebook for a billion dollars.

Actually, this wasn’t the first time they had made an offer on Instagram. Jack Dorsey, one of the co-founders of Twitter, had already tried to make the purchase for 700 million dollars. But although there was a good friendship between Systrom and Dorsey, he did not accept the offer because he wanted Instagram to be so big and important that it could not be acquired by anyone.

But a series of leaked emails revealed that Mark Zuckerberg saw Instagram as a major threat to his own social network, so he sought to neutralize it by buying it.

Instagram is currently worth $1 billion and more than half of Facebook’s ad revenue comes from Instagram.

controversies and challenges

The first great controversy occurred in December 2012, when the terms and conditions were modified so that the social network could sell users’ photographs for commercial purposes , without asking their permission or offering them any benefits.

This caused a lot of outrage, so they quickly dropped this option and clarified that only a new advertising scheme will be applied in the application. However, Systrom explained that from the beginning the application was created to become a business, so advertising is key.

A strong competitor for Instagram was Snapchat, which started to threaten the social network as early as 2013. Emily Poach was then the COO of Instagram. But Snapchat managed to convince her to become the director of operations for the new app.

Later, in 2016, Instagram launched its emblematic stories (stories), but Systrom publicly admitted that it was a copy of the Snapchat model.

In 2018 they launch Instagram TV (IGTV) to compete against YouTube. This allowed users to upload videos from 10 minutes to an hour. However, this feature disappeared in 2022, as the company mentioned that they were looking to have simpler advertising experiences.

And it is that, advertising became part of the heart of Instagram . In 2019, the app launched the “stores” feature, which seeks to offer users new in-app shopping experiences, making banner ads and in-app purchases more relevant.

According to a Hoot suite studio 90% of users follow at least one business, and 44% of people use Instagram to shop weekly, as their advertising reach grew 14% more than Facebook’s last year.

We wish to say thanks to the author of this short article for this remarkable material

12 years after the first publication on Instagram: the history of the social network