What Startups Can Learn from Instagram’s Rapid Growth
We all like to share our photos and filter them in order to get the best possible photo effect. In this article we will concentrate more on business strategy of the most famous photo sharing app in the world and inspect 5 aspects of its success through quotes of Kevin Systrom, CEO and co-founder of Instagram.
“Part of being an entrepreneur is understanding how you’re going to be different.”
Before Instagram, people who wanted to customize their photos needed to use Photoshop. Although it is a great piece of software, is more adapted to professional users. Since Photoshop is a paid software and it can only work from desktop, there were a lot of people who wished to play with their photos, but simply didn’t have the means.
“Optimize for people, don’t optimize for valuation.”
Each new Instagram feature was made to be useful for their audience. You can look at their innovation timeline and see for yourself:
October 6, 2010- Instagram Launch
September 20, 2011- Introduction of 4 new filters
February 11, 2012- Introduction of “Lux” filter
April 3, 2012- Launch of Android phone app
June 28, 2012- Photo page redesign
August 16, 2012- PhotoMaps launch
September 13, 2012- Mobile profile pages redesign
February 5, 2013- Launch of web feed
June 20, 2013- Launch of Instagram video
October 24, 2013- Sponsored photos and videos launch.
Although their app became instantly popular, they waited for three full years to add any sponsored content to it. From this timeline we can see how Instagram adapted its product to make it more suitable for people who like playing with their photos. Imagine 2010 is 2015 and think about what you are doing at the moment to make your startup more optimized for your targeted audience.
“I think that above all else, [what] makes products spread is when they’re useful and they’re usable.”
Unlike other photo sharing apps and websites, Instagram is fully oriented to creating the best possible user experience. On Instagram’s photo pages, there are no commercials and ads and everything is highly transparent. In addition to that Instagram also set a new standard when it comes to fast photo uploading process. All this shows us Instagram’s serious approach to UX which makes it one of the most popular apps in the digital world.
“Bringing a prototype into a pitch meeting is so much more powerful than a bunch of graphs that say you’re going to make lots of money in the future.”
For the moment we will go back to the launch of Instagram. Back then, this app was only available for iPhone users, who were at the time the best audience for app testing. “iPhone People” were always more respectable towards innovations and more diligent in testing all possible features of certain apps. That’s mostly because they are younger and more affluent, plus they invested more money in the gadgets and want them to provide the best possible experience. That’s how Instagram skip the initial talking and put their prototype on the table for everyone to try it. Enthusiasm about this app, which was shared through social network channels by its initial users, put Instagram where it is today.
“You should not be afraid to have simple solutions to simple problems.”
Everybody has that one thing he/she is really good at, and the same goes for startups. When mobile apps introduce too many features, they shift the focus from things they are really good at to those for which they offer average or even above average performance. From the beginning of its work, Instagram focused on photos and filters, and they let other companies to deal with check-ins, video games and stuff like that. Each company has its thing:
DropBox– practicality and ability to connect to any device;
Zoho– users can make custom email addresses for free;
Tesla Motors– makes electric cars.
This rule doesn’t only concern tech businesses, but any other company that wants to be successful. Do one thing you are good at and have a wide network of people and organizations to provide you with all other services you are not into., You can search for business advice online, the same goes for accounting, graphic design, marketing etc. That is also one of the reasons why outsourcing gives great results for startups, because pros work best with pros.
In 2012, Instagram was a company with almost no revenue, but lots of soul. It was bought by Facebook for $1 billion, which proves our point that making your product more convenient for the users always pays off in the end, and that making over-commercialization leads to small amounts of fast cash, and nothing more than that.