How Did Instagram Grow So Fast?

The social photo sharing app won 100,00 users within a week of launching and now has 4.25 million users who post 10 photographs per second using the app.

We talk to a lot of startups in an average work week and hear one specific question a lot – how did Instagram grow so fast?

The social photo sharing iPhone app launched in October and gained almost instant celebrity among users even before the startup had real office space. Winning 100,00 users within a week of launching, it now has 4.25 million users who post 10 photographs per second using the app. Used by both domestic and international users, especially in Japan, it has seen steady growth since Christmas and is now growing at a rate of 1.2 million new users every month. Launched by co-founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, it certainly seems to fit VC firm SV Angel’s research findings demonstrating that startups with co-founders have a higher probability of being successful than those with single founders.

So what else is responsible for Instagram’s rapid growth?

  • Having influential friends with a large social network helps. On launch day, Twitter creator Jack Dorsey tweeted about it to his million+ followers. Within days, the app was featured as the app of the day on Apple’s App Store. Serendipitously Apple executive Phil Schiller started using the service soon after. Having influential friends who know about your new service isn’t enough. Getting them to talk about it on social networks goes a long way in helping a new service go viral.
  • Early adopters often tend to be social-savvy. As co-founder Kevin Systrom disclosed at TechCrunch Disrupt NYC, Instagram’s open social network and integration with other social sites has gone a long way in making it popular. Users can view photos added by their own network in their home feed and also view other popular photos on the network. They can like and comment on any photo or flag questionable content for review. They can also share their own Instagram photos on Facebook, Twitter and Flickr.
  • Finally, the app is simplicity personified. Not over engineered, it allows instagrammers to do one thing really well – load and share photos in a fun way.

The photo-sharing service is now being used by news organizations to shares pictures of newsworthy events. But perhaps the biggest signal of Instagram’s success so far is the third party apps like Inkstagram and Starbucks that are being developed using Instagram’s API. Imitation being the highest form of flattery, Instagram’s success has birthed other photo sharing networks, including several in China. Given the intense competition from other popular and innovative photo sharing services like Path and picplz, this will continue to be an interesting space to watch this year.

Instagram

Originally published on Seedwalker

image by Darren Shilson

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