You may have seen photos taken with Instagram by friends and relatives. For the uniformed, Instagram is a new way to post and share your digital photography and short videos with others on social media. As created by app developers Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger in 2010, Instagram could boast of over 100 million active users by the year 2012. Although changes in the application have occurred in both the user experience and business model over the years, the future in 2014 looks bright.
What is Instagram and how is it used?
Users take photos on their mobile phone, then use filters in which to change the look of their photos. This application (or “app) is free to users. They can download it at no charge from the Google Play or Apple Store for their respective Android or iPhone devices.
Instantly photos that capture a classic moment in time can be transformed with a warm brown sepia toned look. You could also take the same shot and run it through a filter to make colors more vivid and vibrant. Simple photographs can be manipulated to take on artistic appeal and create a mood or statement. After finding their finished product, users can then take their photo and easily post it on a variable plethora of online websites or social media.
Mobile phone photographs that were known for only basic images can now appear to be taken on the professional look of a traditional 35 millimeter camera. Instagrammers (as loyal users are called) can also take photos that have been saved in a “roll” on Instagram and sync their device to a computer for printing.
Photos can be shared on the most popular forms of social media immediately, adding to the “insta” of the brand name. In addition to Facebook, these sites include Tumblr, Flickr and Twitter. Taking the “insta” from the instant photography of the original Polaroid Swinger and Kodak Instamatic Cameras, these “Socialmatic” photos are also configured into a symmetric square instead of the rectangular 16.9 ratio of digital or 35 millimeter photography.
How has Instagram changed since its inception?
Early in 2011, the application allowed users to add “hash tags” to let others find their photographs (and in turn, each other) with the use of the “#” sign in front of words for shared subjects and phrases. This upgrade was taken almost directly from the social media site Twitter. When users add the location of their photo, they can now also use this to “Check In” on sites like Foursquare and Facebook.
Has business changed Instagram?
Many people believe that the most important shift in how Instagram reached its users came when it was sold to the social media giant Facebook in April of 2012. In a record sale, Facebook is said to have spent $300 million in cash payment with stock options of just over 23 million shares to acquire the application. This was considered highly controversial in financial circles, because Instagram was not seen as a money making website. However, Facebook purchased the application just prior to their own company going public on Wall Street.
This has changed the way many users have used the app, as they fear that their own photographs will be sold for use to advertisers now allowed by the application. The use of advertisers was supposed to add an innovative addition as a benefit to users, but most did not share this opinion of the new advertisements.
Well-known celebrities who ironically brought use of Instagram to the forefront, canceled their subscriptions as not to have to share private photography. Further giving into pressure from users concerned about their privacy, in December of 2013 Instagram launched “Direct” a new feature where users can send their photos directly from the application only to specific users they designate. So far this new aspect of Instagram has met with mixed reactions, but it does show that the application will bend to the requests and demands of its audience.
As we embark on the year 2014, the future of Instagram continues upward. The application is now able to handle the sharing of videos of 15 seconds or less. Letting video be added in 2013 may have been a move to counteract Twitter’s “Vine” video sharing app, but Instagrammers have taken to it in droves and made it their own. 2013 also saw Instagram’s “Weekend Hash tag Project” where the Instagram Community Team choose themes and hash tags for users to apply during a weekend time limit.
If 2014 moves in the direction of 2013, Instagram will continue to see projects and contests that involve users with interactive activities. Instagrammers can now download a more complex version of Instagram from the Apple App Store that features additional filters for high-resolution photos, borders, along with tilt, rotate and shift options. Continuing its use of advertisers and innovation, the year 2014 should continue to be financially inventive too.