2016 has been Instagram's most disruptive year to date.
In terms of major announcements, they introduced their feed algorithm back in March, their Snapchat-cloning 'Stories' feature in August and live-streaming just last month. But in amongst those bigger additions were smaller, yet equally significant, updates and tools. These include the addition of business profiles, the ability to save posts as drafts, comment filtering, zoom, shopping tags, a re-designed color scheme - basically, Instagram has given their platform a major overhaul, greatly expanding the functionality of the app.
And evidently, the Instagram community is happy with the shift.
Today, Instagram has announced that they've reached a new milestone of 600 million users.
Here's a comparative listing of what that means in the context of other social apps:
- Facebook - 1.79b MAU
- Messenger - 1b MAU
- Instagram - 600m MAU
- Twitter - 317m MAU
- Pinterest - 150m MAU
- LinkedIn - 106m MAU
The announcement underlines Instagram's place as of the key social platforms all brands need to consider - but what's equally impressive in Instagram's announcement is the speed at which they've achieved their growth.
Instagram reached 300 million accounts back in December 2014, which, at the time, saw it eclipse Twitter and spark questions as to whether it had already become one of the "Big 4" social media platforms. Nine months later, in September 2015, Instagram announced it had hit 400 million monthly actives, then nine months after that, in June this year, the platform reached the 500 million user mark.
Instagram's latest 100 million users have come in just six months, so it's actually growing at a faster rate than before - and as noted, this time period comes after (or including) the introduction of Stories and the algorithm, which some feared may see user engagement decline.
Clearly that's not the case - Instagram's told TechCrunch they're seeing big growth in Asian markets, which bodes well for the continued expansion of the app.
Unfortunately, Instagram hasn't broken out specific numbers on the adoption of Stories and how that's impacted on user growth - the only user stat Instagram has released on Stories thus far is that 100 million people are using the option every day, which they reported less than a month after the feature's launch. It'll be interesting to see how the introduction of live-streaming impacts Stories adoption, and whether it becomes a more significant growth in future app use.
Basically, if you're not taking Instagram seriously or you don't think it's for you or your business, it may be worth giving the platform another look and seeing if there's any related discussion around your brand or niche worth tapping into. Almost 10% of the world's population now use it, and the options for expression and outreach continue to expand beyond the app's photography-focussed roots.