Comprehensive Guide to Instagram for Social Business Part 1

Comprehensive Guide to Instagram for Social Business Part 1
Comprehensive Guide to Instagram for Social Business Part 1


Instagram has risen through the ranks and rapidly become a tool that all businesses should be using. Yet many organisations are not really aware of the opportunities and benefits that Instagram can bring for them. In many cases social businesses do not see the point of Instagram or the potential relevance that it may have for them to use. This Guide to Instagram for Social Business aims to change that.

It will explain the history and background of Instagram, putting this tool into perspective. Following this, it will explain why social business should consider using Instagram to promote their interests and attract customers. For those that want to know how to use the app for business purposes, this will be explained in sufficient detail. This guide will also provide suggestions of hashtags that social businesses may consider using to attract attention.

History and Background of Instagram

Instagram is an online photo-sharing, video-sharing and social service available on iPhone and Android smartphones. With Instagram, users are able to record and share not only pictures, but also short videos lasting for up to 15 seconds. Instagram’s distinctive feature is that it confines photos into a square shape. This is reminiscent of Kodak Instamatic and Polaroid images, and contrasts sharply to the 16:9 aspect ratio normally used by cameras on mobile devices.

When Instagram started, in 2010, probably no one could ever have imagined how this smartphone app would grow to be so influential, but today it has more than 150 million users. The success of Instagram has been attributed to its easy and intuitive interface that is perfectly adapted to the fast pace of our lives. It creates photos that capture the most remarkable moments of our lives, transforming these into stunning photographs, with a series of filters that you can opt to apply in just a few seconds.

Nostalgia and the Polaroid Camera

Instagram’s most popular settings make your photos look like they were taken with old-fashioned cameras, like the ones people used during the seventies. Curiously, younger generations, such as Millennials and subsequent generations also feel compelled to blur, tint and reframe pictures, transforming them into snapshots that strangely resemble the ones taken by seventies Instamatic cameras or Polaroid cameras. New generations of Instagrammers bring back the past into the “now” and construct a labyrinth of images tinted by the colors of the golden times of Kodak.

When we quickly choose to apply a filter to our photograph, we are not only applying a filter: a filter transforms the photography into a meta-commentary — a thoughtful aesthetic and narrative choice. Instagram plays with the cyclic longing for the past, a past that is nostalgically seen as “nicer” by filtering the present. By transporting the images of our contemporary lives into a filtered past, Instagramers become time travelers navigating a photographic time machine which transforms the casual picture into a story.

But it is not only nostalgia that explains the success of Instagram. The app integrates effortlessly with other social sharing platforms such as Tumblr, Facebook, and Pinterest. An increasing number of websites and platforms allow Instagram users to share and buy physical products of images. It connects and entertains people and it allows them to tell their story in an “arty” way. This has proven to be extremely appealing to Instagrammers around the world.

Instagram is Born

Instagram was launched in October of 2010, the brainchild of Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger. In January of 2010, Kevin decided to show a mobile app named Burbn (after his drink of choice) to a couple of investors at a party. The concept of his app was still slightly undefined: it was a location-sharing app similar to Foursquare that had a photo-sharing functionality. The investors became interested and decided to invest $500,000. Systrom began looking for a co-founder and found Mike Krieger, a Brazilian coding expert who was also a Stanford graduate that had studied symbolic systems.

Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger
Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger

After a short time working together the co-founders realised that Burbn as a product was not possible as the idea was too complicated. Systrom was interested in photography and suggested that the company should focus on the photo component they had been developing as a part of Burbn. When Apple’s iPhone 4 came out, they found the perfect device to match with the app they were developing. Users could use their app to take a photo, make minor adjustments, add a note and share it. They renamed the app Instagram, as it was an instant telegram.

Instagram experienced tremendous success on its launch. It gained 25,000 users in the first 24 hours! In April 2012 Instagram was bought by Facebook for approximately $1 billion United States dollars in cash and stock. This created astonishment in investment circles as the company was characterised as having, “lots of buzz but no business model”. The price paid by Facebook to acquire Instagram also sharply contrasted with the $35 million Yahoo! paid for Flickr in 2005.

On December 17, 2012, Instagram updated its Terms of Service, granting itself the right to sell users’ photos to third parties without notification or compensation starting on January 16, 2013. This notice prompted a large wave of criticism led by privacy advocates, consumers, National Geographic and even celebrities like Kim Kardashian.  Instagram decided to retract by publishing a statement canceling the controversial terms.

Comprehensive Guide to Instagram for Social Business Part 1
Comprehensive Guide to Instagram for Social Business Part 2
Comprehensive Guide to Instagram for Social Business Part 3
Comprehensive Guide to Instagram for Social Business Part 4