Instagram's 3 keys to success / by Mike Takahashi

At the beginning of 2012, Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom sat down with Kevin Rose to talk about the company, how it was started and what made it successful. A few months later, it was sold to Facebook for $1 billion.

When Instagram started it had 3 goals:

  1. Make photos beautiful and inspiring
  2. Integrate social so people would share photos
  3. Create a great user experience

Make photos beautiful and inspiring

Unless you were a professional photographer or had amazing skills, it was hard to make photos look great. By creating filters, Instagram was able to turn ordinary photos into something beautiful. It inspired people and made them feel like they were a professional photographer.

Integrate social so people would share photos

Because Instagram made photos beautiful and inspiring, people inevitably wanted to share them. It provided a platform that allowed users to share their photos across multiple networks (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) all at once. It also created a discovery tool called the “popular page”, which highlighted the most popular photos on Instagram. This gave anyone the ability to discover and follow other users even if they didn't have a friend on the service.

Create a great user experience

One of the key features that set Instagram apart was how fast image filters were added to photos and then uploaded. Other photo apps existed, but the process took too long.  Instagram set out to make the user experience as seamless as possible. When a user started to choose a filter and write a caption after taking a photo, Instagram immediately began the uploading process. By the time they were finished, the photo “appeared” to be instantly ready. Users couldn’t believe how fast it was.