Instagram was built to blow up
The start-up launched last October 6, 2010 and within six hours it’s back-end became overwhelmed. Co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger quickly switched over from a single server in LA to Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, or EC2 (**that’s as techy as this post gets, I promise!) It basically gave them the ability to minimize downtime and continue to scale the app as it grew.
Last week Instagram announced that it’s reached 7 million users and over 150 million uploaded photos. And according to Systrom, community members are uploading photos at a rate of 15 photos per second. To compare, it took Flickr 2.5 years to amass the same number of photos.
So what does this mean to you? With the amount of existing photo-sharing options available, what makes Instagram so special? Well for starters, Instagram is much more than a photo sharing application… it’s the next big social network.
A shift in social focus
Where Twitter and Facebook provide live news feeds centered around status updates (by you), Instagram flips the focus to the image.
On Instagram, it’s less about ‘you’ (what’s interesting about you) and more about what’s interesting to you…. Which in turn, makes you more interesting. Kapeesh? Contrast that with Facebook and Twitter, which tend to be more self-centered (pics of you, your friends, where you are, what you’re doing, why you’re feeling gassy today…thanks for the update...) and a fresher picture emerges.
If self promotion is the new ente.rtainment, Instagram makes it less obvious. You’re still self-promoting – whether it’s a hipster pic of you and your friends or a super cool sunset that you’ve captured - but there’s a filter (16 filters, to be exact) of artistry over it. Instagram takes the campiness out of a Twitter update about your lunch – and instead makes that update appetizing.
Another powerful thing about Instagram is the connections it creates. When you follow someone, you are subscribing to their vision of the world around them. There’s an element of voyeurism to it – and who doesn’t like voyeurism? I’m wearing binoculars right now… It also fosters a sense of intimacy. It’s a window into someone’s day, mood, moment. And in following multiple people, Instagram offers a constant steam – or montage of moments.
In terms of building out your network, Instragram is much more like Twitter than Facebook. Friend requests from people you’ve never met / heard of are creepy. You know what I’m talking about. But following / being followed on Twitter is much more about interest (in content someone is sharing) than the person themselves. Unless you’re a celebrity. And then it’s just about watching them talk to each other.
The feed and fact that you can follow anyone from all over the world (pending their privacy settings, obv) unlocks a creative lens to both (keeping up with) friends or (peering into the lives of) strangers. Either way, Instagram inspires.
Marketing + the next phase of 'web celeb'
I won’t be surprised if within the next year we start to see Insta-celebrities pop up, as we have on YouTube. There are already users with thousands upon thousands of followers. And it’s not that prophetic to imagine a brand run Instagram competitions (take photos of [X] and tag them [brand name] for a chance to win [amazeballs prize]). Content publishers will to start including Instagram feeds on their websites. Brands (Burberry, Red Bull, Jamie Oliver) and agencies (Made by Many) have already started dabbling in Grammaland.
While you can’t tag images yet or search Instagram hashtags (*you can use hashtags and grab them from Instagram's API), I imagine that’s somewhere in the pipeline and it sure to add to both personal and marketing opportunities for following, tracking and participating. Gollin Harris’ Lollagram (an aggregate of Instagram images from Lalapalooza) is a great example of what’s to come.
Watch. This. Space.
And follow sosticky on Instagram! :)