Instagram turned five recently, so we thought this would be a good time to take a look back at some of its more notable moments and how it's evolved since 2010. How has the platform grown into one of the largest and most important social networks? How have brands found their place there? And what might be next for Instagram?
A photo-sharing social media platform is born
Instagram launched on Oct. 6, 2010, and by December of that same year it had already reached 1 million users. The hashtags that Instagram is so well-known for now weren't introduced until January 2011. Their original purpose remains the same: to help users share and discover their photos with one another.
By June 2011, Instagram was up to 5 million users. The launch of version 2.0, which included many of the filters and other features we know and love today, doubled that number to 10 million users by the end of September 2011.
One of Instagram's most popular hashtags, #TBT (Throwback Thursday), started being used in 2011, but its popularity really took off in 2012 when more celebrities and influencers began participating.
You may also remember 2012 as the year Instagram joined the Facebook family, and users grew to 30 million. This is also when the Explore tab and web profiles were launched, but Instagram took a hit in popularity with miscommunication around its new TOS (terms of service) in December of that year. Users interpreted it to mean Instagram would allow their photos to be sold and reused without their permission, but Instagram listened to user concerns and clarified its intentions to build a business model that matched the user experience.
And that has worked out well. In 2013, Instagram added video capabilities (contributing to the video content marketing heyday of today) and direct messaging, as well as its first ads in the US. The platform grew rapidly, reaching 300 million users in 2014 and 400 million users as of last month.
That makes it one of the largest social networks in the world, after just five short years.