The History of Instagram: A Decade of Social Sharing

Written by Courtney Raguso, Social Media Content Creator

Instagram launched on October 6th, 2010, now officially reaching their 10 year anniversary. Looking back, the app was seen and used primarily as a photo-sharing service, but now it’s grown into a source of income for creators and a new sales channel for businesses, totaling 26.9 million users in the U.S. In fact, it’s projected that by the year 2023, the number of Instagram users will reach 125.5 million. Instagram founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger gained a lot of success pretty quickly their first year in business, gaining over 10 million downloads. They went from coding Instagram 1.0 at a tech incubator on San Francisco’s Pier 38 in 2010 to selling their startup 18 months later to Facebook for more than $700 million dollars. Now in the past year alone, the app has generated over $20 billion dollars in ad revenue. The first official post was one of several experimental snaps which was simply of a dog and Kevin’s foot. From there things really took off and now there are so many opportunities available for creators and brands to promote and share their content. Instagram today offers so many new features and unique ways to express and share your brand and ideas with the world. Their hipster filter effects, Polaroid-esque icon, and square film border are what set the app apart and were liked by many people; but it was forward-thinking that led them to give their audience something they wanted before even knowing it. 

The company started making small changes and were cautious about how they defined their brand to their audience. Since they were doing so well with the features they had currently, they didn’t want to veer too far away from who they were seen as. However, the founder realized that if the company waited until there were signs that the app was in need of a refresh, it would most likely be too late. It wasn’t about sharing art, it was about finding better ways to share; and although what was seen as relevant at the time, would no longer be useful down the road because of how limiting and formal the app was. One small change that made a big difference was when they allowed photo formats to go beyond the 1080×1080 square, which generated a quick return with more people posting more content and of higher quality. Instagram looked at their competition and saw what they could build on and improve. They also looked for features that might be missing that can be used to enhance overall user experience. Take Snapchat for instance, who accused them of copying their stories feature. Kevin’s response was simple: “We didn’t just blindly adopt a new format, we built on top of it.” Instagram saw themselves as an individual brand with a mission for strengthening relationships through shared experiences. They took what they saw and made it better with a focus on their audience. In this instance, Instagram is responsible for the feature where you can rewind a story in progress to catch a moment you missed, which Snapchat found interesting enough to adopt for their platform. Instagram really wanted to nail their user experience, and they focused on offering users a more authentic space to share and give its users options they clearly wanted. As time went on, Instagram continued to enhance their features, adding live stories, boomerangs, IG TV and Reels. They also continue to tweak their look… aside from when they gave their classic logo a modern makeover back in 2016! Check out how they evolved over the years below. 

Instagram has so much potential for your business, just ask Mark Zuckerberg who shelled out nearly 1 billion dollars. The app offers so many features to allow you to personalize your interaction more with your audience. Of course posting just to post isn’t going to be worth your time. However, if you utilize the tools that work best for you, a positive return is what you’ll get. Gaining a quality following shouldn’t be your goal;, the focus should be on your audience. Instagram focused on theirs and just look at how much success it has brought them. It’s always all about the audience; and not just any audience, your audience. Instagram offers so many great tools that you can use to fetch important data you can be applying to your campaigns. It also offers ways to build brand loyalty, increased brand awareness, new leads and boost website traffic just to name a few. You should be utilizing this platform to connect and network, not sell. Although ads on Instagram do perform well, this type of platform is more about building relationships and forming an identity for your brand. Once you can make your content interesting then you will start making sales, including repeat ones. If you need better content and want to start understanding your audience better, we would be happy to help assist you on your digital journey!

At MSM DesignZ, we put in the time and energy needed for success, so you can ensure you are using every dollar for maximum return. With over 20 years in the business, we have watched marketing evolve from traditional to digital. Whether you need a website refresh, more attractive email, or a quality online presence, we can do it all. We’re here to help you stay ahead of the competition and stand out from the crowd. When we take on a client, we put in 110% and treat every brand as if it’s our own. We will always continue to place our clients’ needs at the heart of our operations. From web development to social media management, we’ll work directly with you to build a personalized strategy to not only retain but also gain business. We are assisting in all areas for our clients. Visit our contact page at, and we’ll work with you to devise a custom plan that will keep your brand alive and well. We look forward to working with you!