Platform 101: All about Instagram

This article was originally written by me for The Platform Blog.


Instagram is a free photo-sharing  social network that was launched in October 2010. The service allows users to take a photo, apply a digital filter to it, and then share it with other Instagram users they are connected to on the social network as well as on a variety of social networking services (Twitter, Facebook, Flickr). Instagram currently has 80 million registered users. A distinctive feature is that it confines photos to a square shape, in contrast to the 4:3 aspect ratio typically used by mobile device cameras.

Instagram is owned by Facebook after the social networking giant bought the platform for a reported $1bn in April 2012. Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s Founder, noted that Facebook was “committed to building and growing Instagram independently”, after the deal had gone through. Instagram released version 3.0 in August 2012, enabling users to geo-locate where the photos were taken and attach them to an interactive mapping system powered by Foursquare.

Key statistics:

– Each second, 58 photos are uploaded.

– Each second, a new user is gained.

– There have been more than 4 billion photos uploaded.

Key demographic:

The latest report from states that 70% of users are female.


Instagram is currently a mobile-only platform app, available on iPhone (since October 2010) and Android (since April 2011). There are currently no plans to release the app on Blackberry.

Best resources:

–      Instagram for Business blog

  • Explore how businesses are using Instagram through tips, brand spotlights, API examples and news from the Instagram HQ.

–      Instagram for users blog

  • See what’s happening around the world, right now, through photo features, user spotlights, photo tips and news from the Instagram HQ.

Latest developments:

New research published in August 2012 shows that 40% of the world’s top brands (as defined by InterBrand) now have a presence on Instagram. While the photo-sharing platform currently lags behind the big guns such as Facebook and Twitter, the opportunity to reach 80M+ potential customers means this will continue to rise – possibly rising to between 60-70% by mid-2013.

The top 10 brands using Instagram are very B2C focused, with strong engagement rates and large volumes of followers:

This research highlights a unique opportunity for corporate brands to be involved on the social networking platform. At present, there are very few organisations that have incorporated Instagram into their marketing strategy.

Saying that, General Electric has a pretty astonishing profile, which consists of glossy imagery focused on their innovative designs and Olympic 2012 sponsorship. GE use the profile as an extension of their other marketing communications, perfectly integrated with campaign activity and owned social media channels.

What are the key benefits?

– The social network has an audience of 80M+ users, as well as the capacity to share content across popular channels such as Facebook and Twitter.

– Visual content is a great way to reach an audience – the popularity of video and imagery content has dramatically risen in the past 5 years.

– Customers and stakeholders show greater levels of engagement when content is visual and are more inclined to share amongst their immediate community.

– Organisations can benefit from user-generated content when hosting promotional competitions and giveaways.

– Brands have the chance to offer exclusive insight into their operations, thus increasing transparency, with back-stage access to new products, services and innovations.

What are the key risks?

– Comments are not moderated and cannot be deleted – so negative comments will forever be searchable, which becomes more important were the platform to migrate to a website rather than simply a mobile-only app.

– Imagery can easily be downloaded and then manipulated free of charge – which could be used by activists or campaigners in a defamatory manner.

– Similarly, Instagram photos hold no copyright to the origin whatsoever.

– If an organisation doesn’t claim their username, a profile could be set-up and used by a member of the public or activist group in a manner that doesn’t best represent the organisation.

Social channels:

Instagram can be found on Twitter (8.1M+ followers), Facebook (1.6M+ fans), Google+ (25K+ followers) and, unsurprisingly, Instagram (7.1M+ followers).


So now that you know all there is to about Instagram, you’re ready to start shooting your own photography and telling your brand’s story. After all, there’s only one real way to understand something, and that’s to try it out!

I’m @bnfx on Twitter, if you have any questions or comments.


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