On October 6, 2010, co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger released a free mobile app to the world known as, Instagram. The two developed the simple application in San Francisco, California; naming the app after the combination of words “Instant Picture” and “Telegram.” Quickly gaining traction, the app gathered enough attention to accrue one-million users by December 2010, and ten-million users by September 2011. During the same year Instagram was awarded, “iPhone App of the Year.”
For nearly two years since its inception, Instagram remained an application available exclusively to the iPhone. In April 2012, Instagram made a huge move allowing people who owned Android phones to now download one of the most popular mobile applications in the world. With this flood of new users and surge in popularity, Facebook decided to seize the moment and purchase Instagram for one-billion dollars: $300 million of it was in cash, and the rest was invested in Facebook’s stock.
After Facebook’s hefty investment, Instagram continued to explode in popularity. By integrating new features into their still-photo dominant system – the application kept evolving through the introduction of Instagram Videos, as well as the ability to now view Instagram media from the web. These simple yet groundbreaking additions to the app pushed the company to have 150 million users by the year 2013 – to now having doubled that with 300 million active users as of August 2015.
As the saying goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” For some, a simple post of a picture is all the person needs to convey the exact message they are trying to send to their followers. With other forms of popular social media such as Twitter and Facebook; Instagram separates themselves from the pack by focusing their attention on making photos the main form of communication among their users. Through the use of filters and simple yet very clever photo editing tools accessible right from the application; the user can make their picture look as if a professional photographer took it and edited it.
Many celebrities, as well as companies – make full use of Instagram’s large following by advertising their products and themselves to reach the masses much more effectively. Celebrities who have large followings on Instagram include, Taylor Swift (the most with 48 million followers), all of the Kardashians (Kim has 47 million – Khloe has 32 million), soccer stars Neymar and Christiano Ronaldo with 32 million and 31 million respectively, as well as many more who have well over 10-20 million followers a piece.
These staggering numbers obviously mean that these people have a lot of social influence when it comes to their followers. Companies of course then look to these people to help promote their company or brand whenever their celebrity has the opportunity to take a quick selfie and write a caption about it.
One celebrity who does a very good job at promoting himself as well as other ventures is, Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. Becoming most popular in his early days as a professional wrestler in the WWE, ‘The Rock has since gained even more popularity by staring in many action films such as, “The Fast and Furious” franchise; as well as “San Andreas”, and “Hercules.” With 28 million followers on Instagram, ‘The Rock’ has one of the largest influences when it comes to the app. Sharing pictures of his everyday life, as well as hilarious videos of him on set or working out – ‘The Rock’ makes sure to make his presence known in the Instagram community, and many companies take note. He recently announced that he partnered up with Ford motor company as their official Spokesman of Service. This announcement of course came through the use of Instagram by using a picture of him standing, arms crossed, with the Ford logo floating beside him. Simple posts like these influence the minds of thousands of followers who happen to take a glance as they scroll through their ‘feed.’
Companies not only make sure to post through the use of their sponsored celebrities, but also make sure to post pictures on their own Instagram accounts. Many major companies that make products for consumers now-a-days have their own official accounts, keeping their potential buyers up to date with the latest clothing, gadgets, and services that they are willing to exchange.
Companies such as Nike and Victoria’s Secret (23 million and 22 million followers respectively) make sure to constantly flood their followers’ feed with new and upcoming products that can be purchased on their website; if not the store. Accounts such as BodyBuilding.com announce product deals that can be viewed first from Instagram.
It is through these simple pictures and captions that celebrities and organizations alike hold a very large influence on society. By tracking how many likes a picture gets and understanding who the target audience is, companies can position themselves to appeal more to followers who will in turn, hopefully, become customers.