1. A Unique Visual Storytelling ApplicationStories have been around for thousands of years. As human beings we’re wired to live and tell stories. The change that has fueled the growth of Instagram is that we’ve become a society of visual storytellers. The primary mode of telling stories is through pictures. Americans love watching movies, annually fueling Hollywood’s billion-dollar industry.
While yesteryear had humans using the oral tradition to pass down stories, today sees pictorial storytelling outstripping audio and even print narratives as the primary way the world tells and shares stories. The modern age beckons the earth’s inhabitants to constantly live life faster. As a consequence the time to read life evaporates quickly, leaving only the mere snatches of time to look at pictures, allowing our modern minds to fill in the necessary words of the narrative between the pictures.
2. Facebook PiggybackThe Facebook phenomenon has changed the size of the world. Never before have people on opposite ends of the globe been able to share the human journey together. As a result, social media, especially in the Facebook realm, has become a billion-dollar business. Instagram’s rapid growth is due in part to the economic horsepower of Facebook backing the effort. Within 18 months of Instagram’s launch, social media giant Facebook acquired Instagram for $1 billion, even though the photo-sharing company was valued at the time at only half of the hefty price tag. That kind of capital infusion only served to propel Instagram to record heights.
3. Unique College Campus ImpactWhile high schools struggle to police and prohibit student use of their beloved cell phones, college campuses use the proliferation of cell phone use to their advantage, both furthering the image of the school and increasing student engagement. Professors, especially in art-related majors such as photography or even marketing, ask students to take advantage of Instagram to share their work and process the visual world around them. Likewise, college admissions departments encourage students to use Instagram to tell the story behind the story, posting photos to publicize special events and market a school in a completely inexpensive way. Student Instagram posts can create buzz for a particular school without the powers that be at an institution of higher learning ever doing anything.
4. They Kept It SimpleThough other social media sites frequently change their mode of operation and thereby anger their legions of users, part of Instagram’s success is its refusal to change things up. In the last couple of years, Facebook has routinely deployed changes to its basic framework, unleashing with each new upgrade a whole new chorus of discontent from users who’ve grown accustomed to social media done a certain way. From its initial launch in 2010, Instagram has made few changes to its basic offering, keeping its system clean and simple. While the number of tech-savvy users continues to grow, fringe users who struggle with basic understanding of Instagram protocol makes up a significant percentage of its population. These users appreciate the continuity of Instagram’s system and patronize the photo behemoth consistently.
5. Vintage FeelThough America possesses a seemingly insatiable hunger for all things current and modern, there’s an equally gripping fondness for old-fashioned yesteryear. Instagram caters to the lure of the vintage, giving users to opportunity to create chic, old-time portraits with the click of a button. Some desktop or laptop editing programs allow users the same type of freedom, but Instagram gives availability with ease. Users celebrate the simple way photos are transformed and able to morph into snapshots that make the past live in the present. In the same vein, Instagram’s photo-editing software blurs HD reality, allow users a brief respite from the crystal-clear problems of the real world and a door to an ulterior universe. For a culture that loves fantasy flicks for that very reason, Instagram is a welcome diversion.
6. Increased Camera Phone Use and Quality
Five years ago a cell phone’s camera was used primarily for capturing an image when a user didn’t have his or her regular camera available. Today, the camera phone is the primary way society captures the world around it in digital form. One reason for this phenomenon is the fact that cell phone camera quality has risen exponentially. Gone are the days when grainy cell phone photos made for challenging identification and digital scrapbooks of dubious quality. Now, camera phones capture images with crystal-clear quality, making everyday reality the subject even for photography novices. Add to this the fact that cell phone camera use continues to rise, and Instagram’s extreme popularity becomes completely understandable.
With over 70 percent of its 150 million users admitting to logging in and checking the stream of photos on a daily basis, Instagram shows no signs of slowing down. With an unprecedented rise in popularity, the future of Instagram is hard to forecast. Instagram experiences over 8500 likes per second and 1000 comments per second. With that kind of unbelievable productivity, Instagram’s future is surely bright. The question that begs asking is regarding how Instagram might continue to grow. Notice that the proper question is not necessarily whether it will grow. Its surprising rise has smashed any notion of a slowdown. The only question now is what untapped avenues of society it might explode into next.