Without a shadow of a doubt, Instagram is one of the most used and most popular social media platforms around today. In fact, it’s estimated that over one billion people use Instagram at least one time each month, an absolutely staggering amount of the world population. Its two biggest markets are the United States and India respectively, but if you’re dealing with that much success, that might bring up a simple question: How long will Instagram last and stay popular? Will Instagram ever die out? The answer to that is pretty speculative and difficult to predict, although it’s definitely sure that Instagram won’t go anywhere for the coming years.
The history of Instagram so far
Did you know that the original name for Instagram was actually Burbn? It was started by two guys, Mike Krieger and Kevin Systrom. The original application was actually very similar to Foursquare, and it allowed users to check into several different places. You could also share pictures on the app, but the developers noticed that people were using the photo-sharing functionality a lot more than checking in.
When they realized this, they pivoted their concept and shifted focus to creating an app that was ideal for sharing photos with friends, family, and complete total strangers on the internet. Instagram as we know it was born.
Quickly, filters were added that allowed people to change the way their photos looked in an instant. After years of active development, Instagram now has video-sharing as well, Instagram TV, stories, and Instagram Reels, a direct competitor to TikTok.
In 2012, Instagram was acquired by Facebook for over a billion dollars worth of cash and stock. Especially at that time, that amount was seen as absolutely humongous, and Instagram has been residing under the Facebook banner ever since.
The growth of Instagram over the years and its future predicted growth
At this time, Instagram has almost 1400 million (that’s 1.4 billion!), active users, on its platform. With that number, Insta can rightfully call itself the fourth-biggest social media platform in the world.
At the number one spot is Facebook, which still remains undisputed with almost 3 billion users. YouTube comes in second place, closely followed by the holder of the bronze medal, Whatsapp at 2 billion. You definitely don’t have to take our word for it – we get our numbers from the reliable statistics and reporting company Statista, which you can self-verify over here.
In 2021, it’s estimated that Instagram will have grown 3.7% in user base. That’s significantly lower than the 6.2 and 6.7 percent from the two years before, and much lower than the 10% growth it has seen in 2018. With the current market situation, it’s estimated that the app will only grow 2.2% in the year 2022, followed by another 1.8% increase in 2023.
Those are shrinking growth numbers, but we do have to realize that a lot of users have simply already signed up for Instagram – there’s not a lot of room to grow aside from new generations getting access to the app.
Instagram is also in a very good position because of its relationship with Facebook. Along with Whatsapp, Mark Zuckerberg’s company has three of the four most popular social media platforms today in control and is also able to leverage it. The Facebook and Instagram integration makes things easier for users and also allows for cross-contamination of users.
Will Instagram ever die out?
At this moment in time, it’s uncertain to know if Instagram will ever die out, although economic experts would say it is unlikely. Facebook is just too big of a company to just let their social media platforms die out, and they’ll likely pivot Instagram towards new opportunities or concepts if growth declines or if it goes the opposite direction, just like when they first started out as Burbn and then made the shift towards a photo-sharing app.
With a net worth of almost a trillion dollars and an astonishing amount of active users, it’s safe to say that Facebook, and thus, Instagram, won’t die out anytime soon. Too many businesses also rely on Instagram and it’s truly all over the world except for China – Insta has become too big to be at risk of dying out in the near future.
That being said, you never really know for sure in the tech industry, something Facebook knows all about. Back when Facebook first started, they absolutely obliterated already existing social media platforms such as MySpace and the Dutch platform Hyves. Of course, since Facebook has been on the other side of this, they will also likely know how to prevent those things from happening to themselves.
These phenomena tend to occur often in the tech industry (for example, the death of VHS and videocassettes due to the arrival of DVD, the rise of music streaming services vs. falling CD sales…) and has actually been thoroughly academically studied. The political economist Joseph Schumpeter calls this the cycle of “creative destruction” back at the beginning of the 20th century.
How long will Instagram last and stay popular or relevant?
It’s a given that not everything remains forever, but it’s also pretty sure that we won’t have to worry about Instagram disappearing anytime soon. Instagram will probably last dozens of years, although not in the way we might know Instagram today.
The business is doing well, advertising revenue goes up every year, there is still some growth inactive users, and it’s backed by a trillion-dollar company and the biggest social platform in the world. All of the above makes it pretty difficult to put a lifespan or a number of years on how long Instagram will last, but users and experts are already noticing a sort of paradigm shift when it comes to Instagram.
Recently, they’ve tried to copy successful concepts of their competing apps. For example, Instagram stories were pretty much blatantly copied from Snapchat stories, and the gamble definitely paid off: stories have now become an essential part of the Instagram experience and you wouldn’t be able to imagine the app without it. Some of its other new features, however, such as Instagram TV (an attack on YouTube) and Instagram Reels (to compete with the staggering popularity of TikTok), seem much less popular and used than before, despite the developers putting a heavy emphasis on these new additions. The shopping update, which allows users to shop inside of the app, was also not exactly met with universal acclaim.
In fact, in 2021 the head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, posted the following tweet:
Changes are coming to video on Instagram 📺
At Instagram we’re always trying to build new features that help you get the most out of your experience. Right now we’re focused on four key areas: Creators, Video, Shopping and Messaging. pic.twitter.com/ezFp4hfDpf
— Adam Mosseri (@mosseri) June 30, 2021
It’s clear that Instagram is no longer the app that was once focused on just sharing pictures, but is trying to become a bit of everything.
On Reddit, plenty of people have wondered and discussed whether Instagram is dying or not, such as in the following post.
A Reddit user brought up a lot of good points we’ve mentioned above:
Is Instagram being replaced by TikTok?
A lot of people seem to think so, given the fact that TikTok is now seeing massive growth. However, social media and economic experts believe that this isn’t likely to happen, as TikTok at the moment is still quite a niche (it only provides video possibilities, while Instagram caters to a much wider audience) and is not very popular among older users. Being a Chinese company, it also has a lot of data and privacy concerns. These factors make it unlikely that TikTok will ever dethrone Instagram, although their staggering growth is definitely worth noting.
At this time, it’s estimated that there are over 730 million active monthly users on TikTok. Instagram’s competitor definitely has one major advantage, however, as it is also available in China. TikTok in China is known as Douyin and has a different name, although the functionalities are similar. In fact, Douyin is actually ahead of TikTok, as it already offers the possibility of business accounts and shopping there. Perhaps we’ll see those features coming to the regular TikTok soon, and then it’ll definitely start to compete a little more with Instagram.
Want to know more about Douyin, the Chinese TikTok? Check out our full article about Douyin here.
Will Instagram eventually be replaced?
Aside from TikTok, Instagram also faces competition from a number of other platforms, including but not limited to VSCO, 500px, Poparrazi, and more.
A lot of people wonder if Instagram will ever die out or how many years it will last, but a lot of experts agree that it definitely won’t happen in the next decade or so. Instagram (or Facebook, rather) has just become too huge with billions of users, is still experiencing active growth, and is raking in a ton of revenue. Additionally, the Instagram team has already proven to experiment often with new features and concepts to tailor new audiences and increase engagement and app growth. In short, Instagram isn’t dying out anytime soon.