In a blog post, Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom reminisces about the app’s early days, before it was a Facebook-backed powerhouse – and he does for good reason. Today, Instagram announced it’s reach 100 million users, just two and a half years since its launch.
“Images have the ability to connect people from all backgrounds, languages and cultures. They connect us to aid workers halfway across the world in Sudan, to entrepreneurs in San Francisco and even to events in our own backyards. Instagram, as a tool to inspire and connect, is only as powerful as the community it is made of,” Systrom says.
If you look back in the past two years, the way we connect with friends and family has been changing rapidly. Images and photo-sharing platforms have become an increasingly popular way for us to communicate. All you have to do is look at the impact of Hurricane Sandy, Thanksgiving, President Obama’s re-election, and New Years Eve to recognize Instagram’s place in today’s social media driven world.
Early on in Instagram’s infancy, Systems says he recognized the platform’s potential. The team realized way back then that “Instagram was going to be different.”
“We understood the power of images to connect people to what was happening in the world around them. And, although Instagram had a fraction of the user base it does today, that night we saw a preview of what Instagram would enable at a much larger scale down the road,” he says.
As a point of reference, it took Facebook four years to reach 100 million users – although now that figure is negligible knowing that the social network has over 1.1 billion users, as last announced. Twitter took five years to reach its 100 million user milestone. While what Instagram has built in its features and community are responsible for much of its growth, the entire culture around social networks and adoption of smartphones has also contributed to the numbers the app is seeing.
While the app is certainly a more fully-featured platform that it originally was, some of that comes at the cost of its indie roots – which is the say Instagram is turning into a more corporate, brand-friendly network. It’s a battle heating up between all of the big social networks, and the competition is probably thickest between Instagram and Twitter. Events are quickly becoming a go-to option for partnerships, as well, as we saw with Instagram’s Grammy partnership, and Twitter’s Oscars plug. Still, 100 million users is nothing to sneer at, and congratulations are deserved for the once-little social app that could.