Instagram is 10: Looking Back at a Decade of Everyone’s Favourite App
It seems unbelievable, but it’s true – 2020 is the year that photo-sharing app and social media platform Instagram turns 10 years old. From its humble beginnings, as a check-in app called Burbn developed in San Francisco, to its incarnation as a feed of 1:1 square pictures, to its current status as a world-dominating online platform with over a billion active users, it’s certainly been on a turbulent journey to the top.
Back in the day, it was only through questionable gossip magazines and late-night chat shows that we could catch up with our favourite celebrities’ personal lives. Then, social media happened and in just a few short years, we were privy to their bedhead selfies and Sundays spent at home baking banana bread with #nofilter. The fanatical interest in the private lives of people in the public eye has continued to grow as audiences gain access to more content, with no sign of it dying out from overexposure.
In the midst of this digital revolution, Instagram has by far been the social media platform of choice for celebrities to post longed-for updates on their day-to-day lives and to connect directly with fans. Fast forward to 2020, a decade after the app’s launch, and you can access the personal Instagram accounts of almost every celebrity, it seems. Supermodels regularly update their feed with selfies for millions of followers, pro poker players give fans a privileged look behind the scenes at their jet-set lifestyles, and celebrity chefs offer live cook-a-longs direct from their profile. With the addition of Stories, live streaming, and IGTV the possibilities for further expansion look to be endless.
Not having an Instagram account these days is bad business. In fact, there’s a whole new breed of celebrity born from the infinite scroll of the app, christened ‘influencers’. Many of these online personalities use it as their main source of income, capitalising on the power of advertising work, collaborations with brands, and selling their own merchandise. However, they are reliant upon the algorithm boosting them into the public eye and, should they lose their coveted engagement levels, they could also lose their jobs.
Outside of this all-or-nothing status as an influencer, existing and new independent businesses have found that Instagram is a godsend for reaching out to customers, plugging merchandise, and attracting new clients. As more people decide to shun the faceless mega-corporations and turn instead to handmade products and smaller businesses. An Instagram profile has become an invaluable tool with which to build a brand, especially on a low budget.
When app founder Mike Krieger posted the first-ever Instagram post way back in 2010 – a photograph showing South Beach Harbour, San Francisco – it would have been impossible to predict how far this platform would progress in just 10 short years. Although Instagram’s current parent company, Facebook, has been instrumental in changing the face of online business, Instagram has taken things to the next level, instigating a monumental shift in how commerce functions around the world.
Friends with Benefits
Of course, Instagram is not just about big business or the increasingly relatable world of celebrity; it’s also about connecting with friends and making new IRL contacts. With the recent merging of Instagram DMs (direct messages) with Facebook Messenger, it’s now easier than ever to stay in touch with friends and followers via the one app. Photos, videos, emojis, and text are all now possible with the in-app messaging service and it can all be kept completely private, rather than having to post publicly on your feed or Stories. As Instagram continues to innovate, subdividing features within the app into more specific categories, it will become even easier to separate work from pleasure and ‘close friends’ from the rest of your followers.
It seems that Instagram isn’t yet satisfied with its considerable reach and major impact on popular culture – no, it’s gunning for total world domination. Pretty soon, it looks like this app will be a one-stop-shop for all your online needs, from shopping for a new house plant to attending a job interview to catching up with your best friends halfway across the world. The future looks bright and it’s breaking out of the 1:1 box.
By Vineet Maheshwari