1. Trends

How Instagram Got So Big

“Hey Instagram, why is your mouth so big and your design so beautiful?”

– So I can eat my competition faster and faster! Ho Ho Ho!

🙂 Right, I’m mixing my tales but who cares. Here’s what’s going on.

Instagram the photo sharing app recently overtook FourSquare as the largest fully mobile social network.

Instagram, the king of mobile photo sharing

15 million users… yeah, whatever. Point is, they’re doing great and people love to use their app. So…

Why exactly did InstaGram blow up in the first place?

You’d think that the 800 pound gorilla of photo sharing, Flickr (still love ’em to death), would have snagged the self-evident crown of the King of Mobile Photo Sharing long ago?

Instead, a four-person startup (yes, still just four with the 15 million users) overtook and then lapped the Yahoo-owned behemoth, all the while singing neener-neener in their faces.

Or something like that…

Creative Commons License photo credit: ohdarling

Now, if we look at things from the perspective of a marketer slash product designer.. things look a little different:

  •  Instagram appeals to emotion – quick atmospheric touch-up to your mobile phone photos that tend to not look so professional anyway… makes all the difference. It makes you look good, it makes you feel good, it makes you want to share that feeling you had taking that snap. Folks, emotion sells – and I don’t care what it is you’re selling; personal status, attractiveness to the opposite sex, whatever the reason you share photos in the first place.
  • It’s done for you sharing – you get a quick value add that you can share without tweaking and editing and all those things that are possible with more professional software… but you never spend the time figuring it out anyway. People want a service that hands it to them on a silver platter.
  • There are no extra steps to take. It’s all very quick and in the moment – so you don’t lose that emotion – just take that snap, maybe apply a filter and a couple of words and buzz… out it goes. You get it now, hence the name. Instant gratification.
  • Great name that sticks AND tells you what it does. With a name like instagram, it makes it sound like something you want to at least try once. And once you have, you probably won’t want to use anything else because of the other reasons counted above.

There it is. Go figure.

All based on principles well known by marketers, and mastered by those who actually use them to create and sell product like crazy.

The remaining question is…

Why indeed are marketers so rarely involved in the design of a product, since they know how to sell the final product the best, anyway? Something to think about for the holidays. 🙂

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Comments to: How Instagram Got So Big
  • December 23, 2011

    hmm, good article, i’ll check Instagram and see if it’s more convenient to use than Flickr

  • December 28, 2011

    well i preferr flickr

  • December 29, 2011

    I am used in using Flickr, but I have to check this Instagram and see if I will prefer this more than flickr. Thanks for sharing the information…

  • January 4, 2012

    you nailed it on the head with one statement: EMOTION SELLS. Biggest reason in my opinion.

  • January 4, 2012

    The post contains lots of information about instagram and really direct to the point on what the statement are trying to convey with the reader. Thanks for sharing this one.

  • January 4, 2012

    seems interesting, but Instagram is for iPhone only?

    about the “emotion” fact, yes, emotion sells, and the strange thing is that we are attracted by ways to make our technology more warm and human.

    Seems like a contradiction… 🙂

  • January 4, 2012

    Yes I believe Instagram is for iPhone/iPod only for now. I wonder how long that will stay so with all this newfound expansion. Even Obama’s got an Instagram account now…

    Where’s the contradiction in seeing a more human approach to apps winning the hearts and minds, though?

  • January 20, 2012

    Though I am a regular user of flickr but after reading this post I think i should try Instagram. Hope this works fine for me.

  • January 22, 2012

    Nice article. I am a user of Flickr but now am gonna try Instagram. Thanks for sharing it with us.

  • February 3, 2012

    I think marketers should definitely be involved in the design of a product! But I do think that in successful companies, the person with the idea has to have a strong marketing sense.

  • February 6, 2012

    The rise of Instagram (you mention lapping Yahoo’s Flickr) reminds me of Facebook’s rise to the top of the social network site food chain where they overtook and effectively closed down “MySpace” in a matter of a few months to a year. It just goes to show that the big players aren’t safe in the ever changing world of social networking.

  • February 7, 2012

    nice one…dear friend will you tell me how to increase pr

  • February 7, 2012

    Frugal Dad: I completely agree – the ideal situation is if the idea person also has a feel for marketing. Not very common, but great when that’s how it goes…

  • February 7, 2012

    Hamid: Yes I will – start posting more meaningful and relevant comments, for starters… 🙂

  • May 2, 2012

    Post scriptum – no longer 15 million users but 50 million. And exit to Facebook at a cool billion. Called this one pretty nicely, eh? 😉

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