Happy 10th Birthday, Instagram!

Happy Birthday Instagram! 10 moments over 10 years that have shaped the space for brands.

On October 6 2020, Instagram turns 10 years old. And thanks to a variety of editing filters and face-masks – still doesn’t look a day over 5.

Thinking back to those first launch moments all those years ago, it feels rather retro now to think that a slew of OTT high-contrast filters and fake polaroid borders made for the most stylish content we’d ever seen online!

Giving anyone and everyone a temporary artistic licence, the channel turned us all into brunch-snapping, sun-pinching, #nofilter filtering wannabe Annie Leibovitzs. And 10 years later - perhaps not much has changed for the average Joe. We’re all still clicking, editing and scrolling daily – searching for a sumptuous visual fix that will make our mouths water and our wallets ache.

But for brands – and those who love an #OOTD – Instagram has transformed from a fancy photo album to an internationally prevalent, billion-user platform with the tech and creative specs to communicate directly with their audiences in an (almost?) irresistible fashion.

On the eve of this 10th birthday, we’ve decided to look back at 10 moments that turned Instagram into a great space for brands:

1. October 2010

Instagram’s official launch.

Only two month’s later the channel had hit over 1,000,000 users worldwide and has been on a steady growth ever since. While new competing channels still appear (see our recent blog on TikTok’s world domination!) the active user base is still immense and It’s the not being on there that will make your customers confused.

Instagram launches on 6 October 2010 with co-founder Kevin Systrom’s

2. January 2011

Instagram introduces hashtags

Nearly four years after they first appeared on Twitter, the arrival of hashtags on the platform meant that users – and brands – could sign-post their images for others to discover and enjoy. It also coincided with the rise of the Instagram Influencer – who could add their content into the worldwide melting pot of other options, with the goal of standing out and rising above as a best-in-class example.

3. April 2012

Facebook buys Instagram

About time! Looking back it seems mad that it took longer than 2 months for Mark and co to stomp in and scoop up the channel. The marriage of the two platforms has meant cross-pollination for audiences, insights and (later) advertising. And freed up Facebook to delve into more ‘practical’ content formats, leaving the fancy filters to Insta.

4. June 2013

Instagram introduces videos

Only 15 seconds (at that stage) – but enough to push brand’s creative options and capture attention in the feed, with the ongoing expectation you would remain ‘arty’ and beautiful throughout. Head back to Facebook with your shouty sales messages!

Ellen DeGeneres’s selfie at the Oscars garners almost 1.5 million likes

5. Sept 2015

Instagram Ads go global

The mega moment for brands. Activated through Facebook’s own Ad platform (and with the ability to optimise ads across both channels at once), brands could now ultra-target their content into the feeds of their audiences, nestling between the snaps of friends’ manicures and celeb’s coiffured pets.

6. March 2016

Instagram changes the feed

An initially highly unwelcome update for users – Instagram updated their feed from the (logical) chronological to the (unpredictable) algorithmically-driven “best posts first”. What it meant for brands was that their content could have more flexibility with messaging and organic posts no longer had to have any specific timely relevance.

7. August 2016

Instagram Introduces Stories

‘Throwaway’ bitesize content option created to try and ease the pressure from competitors Snapchat. For brands it means another space within the channel to insert their own messaging and drive people out to their own landing page. An utter game-changer creatively - with full-screen vertical content, face-filters, polls, stickers, stamps and more.

With 54.7 million likes, this is the most-liked picture on Instagram to date.

8. November 2016

Instagram Launches Live Stream

Dare you attempt Insta-levels of pristine finish without an edit? Opened the doors for brands to do the same – and give people a more ‘unfiltered’ look at their projects, exclusive content and immediate information as it happens.

9. June 2018

Instagram Launches IGTV

Users and brands could now upload videos of up to one hour into a separate sub-channel. Instagram’s attempt to keep people sitting tight and cosy rather than wander off to YouTube. A great spot for the delve-deeper content that would have previously been truncated on feed.

10. September 2018

Bridge & Tunnel start posting on Instagram

Ok it’s a cheesy inclusion (but we were running out of Insta updates). After forming earlier in the year, we started posting on our own @bridgeandtunnel.co at the end of the summer. It’s now the must-follow account of the millennium. Or maybe just a great feed to get updates about the industry, learn a little more about our team and get bite-size tips on getting the most out of the channel for your brand. We’ll see you there.


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