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Will Instagram become the next big mobile social network or just one awesome photo sharing app?

Instagram features:
If you own an iPhone, like to take photos and share them with your friends or send to multiple social networks then Instagram may become your favorite iPhone application. If you want to share photos with 50 of your closest friends, then Path may be the iPhone photo sharing application of choice, or you may want to try Burstn or picplz. I’ll blog more about Path, Burstn and picplz later but back to Instagram. I would describe Instagram as a mix of flickr, Twitter,, Facebook and Foursquare all rolled into one with the context of content based around photos. The core features of Instagram are; upload or take a photo, name the photo or not, share your location of the photo using Foursquare or not, share your Instagram photo on Twitter, upload to Flickr, share on Facebook, or share on Tumblr. Prior to sharing your photo you have the option to pick between 11 unique filters to enhance your photos. The 11 Instagram filters are, X-Pro II, Lomo-fi, Earlybird, Lily, Poprocket, Inkwell, Apollo, Nashville, Gotham, 1977 and Lord Kelvin.

A simple photo mobile social networking application The social networking aspects of Instagram are simple and familiar if you’re a Twitter user. While looking at users profile you can see an Instagram username, their first name, how many photos they have uploaded, how many followers they have and how many people they are following. As an Instagram user you have four options to interact with other users. You can follow them, like a photo, leave a comment on a photo or flag a photo for review. Instagram embraced their inner Twitter by not only how user profiles are shown with the following and followers but if you leave a comment with @username on any photo you will receive push notification as well. Other Instagram push notifications are sent to your phone when someone likes your photo or follows you. Another social feature of the app is the “Popular” photos section which you could almost compared to the suggested users list or trending topics on Twitter. No, I’m not saying Instagram is a photo version of Twitter and please do not call it that, but the similarities are there. Two other social parts that I believe is a key to Instagram’s early success is the “Find More Friends” options where you can easily find other Instagram users via your contact list, Facebook friends or Twitter friends. There is even a news stream to keep you update on your Instagram likes, and new followers.

Instagram is not complex to use even with all of the features mentioned above. The founder of Instagram, Stanford University graduate, Kevin Systrom, a former intern at Odeo that later become Twitter and a former Google employee along with Mike Krieger who is a former Microsoft intern and Meebo employee before joining the Instagram team doing design & development built the app to allow users share photos and interact with others in seconds. The simplicity and usability of Instagram is smart and you can tell they followed the K.I.S.S. (Google it) rules. Along with the thought of enhancing your photos, the Instagram team has built a fun app with a growing interactive community with “likes” and comments.

Cats and Early Adopters
Speaking of community, the type of photos Instagram users are posting ranges from food, models, babies, sporting events, music concerts, holiday scenery, nature, pretty faces and animals. When it comes to animals, you may see a few dogs but as of right now cats rule Instagram. Along with cats you may find some of your favorite web “tech” personalities such as Chris Messina, Robert Scoble, Jenn Van Grove, Chris Rauschnot, Kevin Rose, Tristan Walker, Angela Benton, Dave Delaney, Tessa and John Gruber sharing their photos. A few of my North Carolina friends such as Abbyladybug, TyDowning, Jay Dolan, Mollybuckly, John Lane and GirlonCamera have started to use Instagram too making my experience even better by sharing photos from families places. Regardless of who is using Instagram make one thing clear, as of right now it is not another look at me app or see how many followers you have but Instagram is about sharing your experience via awesome photos. Still if the app continues to grow I’m sure the how to get more followers question will become an issue and a problem for early adopters who right now just love to post photos.

@noahWG @xenijardin the cats are the worst thing about Instagram. 😉Sat Nov 27 05:23:38 via Twitter for iPhone

One Million users?
Last week it was rumored that Instagram has already passed the one million user mark which is truly impressive for the nine month old startup. If you are new to Instagram or never heard of it and asking yourself how do they have over one million users, it looks like Instagram is popular overseas. Having one million users is a marvellous achievement for any startup but to gain one million users in nine months, with 500k in funding, little press, an iPhone only app and no social networking website is amazing. Yesterday one Instagram user posted a screenshot saying the National Geographic has joined Instagram which cold be the beginning of leading social brands starting to use the service.

National Geographic on Instagram (@NatGeo on IG) Nov 28 18:39:40 via Instagram

What’s Next for Instagram?
As for what’s next for Instagram, maybe an updated website, longer profile history, an Android version, search options, more notifications options to know if your photo is on the popular page, follow photos, like notifications tracking,leaderboards, profile badges and no startup would be complete without stickers and widgets. Regardless as Gina Bianchini stated in The Seven Principles You Need to Know to Build a Great Social Product TechCrunch post, “Create a party, not a museum.” As of today, Instagram is a party for sure.

Do you use Instagram? If not what mobile photo sharing application do you use?


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