Instagram on the up and up, user base crosses 200 million mark

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As the spotlight beamed down on Oculus VR Tuesday following news of Facebook’s acquisition of the virtual reality headset maker, another member of the Facebook family, Instagram, announced its user base had crossed the 200 million mark.

When the social networking giant scooped up Instagram almost two years ago for a billion bucks, the media-sharing startup had around 100 million users, increasing to 150 million last September.

In a post on the Instagram blog highlighting the latest user stats, the team behind the popular cross-platform app also noted that more than 20 billion photos have now been shared through its service, up from 16 billion nine months ago.

The decent growth figures are certain to reassure Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg that his hands-off approach to Instagram has been the right one, and may even have helped to get Oculus VR to ink the buyout deal.

Instagram is now busy trying to monetize its service, rolling out its first sponsored ad – from fashion brand Michael Kors – last November. While plenty of users took to the image’s comments section to express their annoyance at seeing ads arrive on the service, it also generated more than 200,000 likes in its first 24 hours.

More big-name brands have since shown off their goods on the social media site, Levi’s and Lexus among them.

Instagram appears keen to proceed one small step at a time with its sponsored content, aware that bombarding user feeds with a mass of such material will likely backfire in the long run. Judging by the latest user data, its ad strategy certainly doesn’t appear to be scaring anyone away just yet.

“With ads, the team has taken an especially careful approach, working closely with a small number of brands that are already important members of the Instagram community to create a great early experience,” Zuckerberg said recently.

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