Instagram is a free, online photo-sharing social network platform that was acquired by Facebook in 2012.
Instagram was allowing its users to edit and upload photos and short videos through a mobile app. Users can add a heading to each of their posts using hashtags, along with location-based geotags to register these posts and make them searchable by other users within the app. Each post by a user appears on their followers’ Instagram feeds and can also be viewed by the public when tagged using hashtags or geotags. Users also have the option of making their profile private so that only their followers can see their posts.
Instagram users can like, comment on, and bookmark posts, and send private messages to their friends directly from their app called the Instagram Direct feature.
Instagram can be used by individuals but also businesses. This photo-sharing app offers companies the opportunity to start a free business account to promote their brand and products. Companies with business accounts have access to open engagement and impression metrics. Instagram’s website reports more than 1 million advertisers worldwide to use Instagram sharing stories, helping drive business results.
History of Instagram
Instagram started in San Francisco by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, originally they designed a platform similar to Foursquare, then turned their study exclusively to photo sharing. The word Instagram is an amalgam of “instant camera” and “telegram.”
iOS app released through the iTunes App Store on October 6, 2010, and the Android app released on April 3, 2012. Instagrams popularity skyrocketed, with the company reporting more than 40 million active users just two years after launch and catching the attention of Facebook, which officially purchased Instagram for $1 billion in the summer of 2012. Instagram users have the option of adding digital filters to their photos or videos. Initially, only photos were able to be on Instagram; they expanded to 15-second videos in 2013. In 2016, they upped the maximum video length to 60 seconds. Up until 2015, all photos posted to Instagram were confined to a square ratio. The company made a change and allowed users to upload pictures and videos at full size. The company created controversy in 2012, Instagram added this sentence to its Terms of Service policy:
“To help us deliver exotic paid or sponsored content or advancement, you agree that a company or other entity may pay us to show your username, similarity, photos (association of metadata), and/or maneuver you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you”.
After massive backlashing from users who feared Instagram would sell their photos and identifiers, CEO Systrom assured users that weren’t the company’s intention. The language was removed from the policy.
A 2013 controversy created criticisms that Instagram was censoring photos that didn’t break the company’s terms and conditions and that these censorships were especially targeting women’s bodies. The decision in 2016 to change from displaying timeline photos in chronological order to using an algorithm drew negative feedback.
By April 2017, the company with 700 million users, had more than twice the amount of Twitter’s total user base.
Editing tools and features
Instagram provides an array of digital filters applied to photos and even the ones that added a vintage or faded look. Editing features include Lux, an effect that lightens shadows, darkens highlights and increases contrast, and photo-tuning tools allowed the adjustment of brightness, contrast, saturation, sharpness, structure, straightness, and tint. A manual tilt-shift and design can be applied to photos.
In 2017, Instagram rolled out an option that allows users to post multiple photos or videos at once, presented in a carousel format.
They got the inspiration from the Snapchat app. Instagram introduced a Stories feature in 2016 that allows users to share moments from their day that disappear after 24 hours. Instagram Stories includes the ability to incorporate augmented reality-based face filters and stickers, and the ability to add text, drawings, emojis, links, and geotags directly to the photo or video. In April 2017, Instagram Stories recorded 200 million users, surpassing the users of Snapchat, its biggest rival.
Instagram also has a series of add-on apps available. These apps are Boomerang, which creates custom GIFs; Hyperlapse, which creates time-lapse videos; and Layout, which generates image collages with multiple images. When installed, these apps can be accessed directly from the Instagram app.
How to set up and use Instagram
The Instagram app is available for download on Apple’s iPhone, iPad, and other iOS devices through the App Store and on Android devices through Google Play.
Once installed, users will be prompted to sign up for free and are given the option to either input their email address, which entails creating a username and password or logging in using their Facebook account. New users can find people to follow on Instagram by having the app look through their Facebook friends and people on their contact list.
From the Home tab, the first screen that appears when the app opened, Instagram users can view photos from accounts they follow in a format similar to that of Facebook’s newsfeed. Instagram Stories — posted by users you’re following — displayed at the top of the Home feed in the form of circular profile photos. Users can access Instagram Direct at the top right corner of their home feed.
The Explore tab of the Instagram app allows members to search for user accounts to follow or find user photos by searching hashtags or geotags. The Explore tab also presents curated content and recommendations based on the user’s activity and reports they support, as well as trending hashtags and popular posts. The Activity tab displays recent engagement on jobs in the form of likes and comments and also the last activity from those the user is following.
The Profile tab presents all of the user’s photo and video posts in one place and a short bio. To post a photo or video, click the Camera tab, which will give the option of taking a photo or video from within the app or choosing a photo or video from the device’s library.