At an internal event last week, Instagram celebrated yet another milestone: 1 billion monthly active users. That is 1 000 000 000 people and businesses, who log in to use the service at least once a month.
That number stood at just 800 million in September last year, meaning that Instagram has gained another 200 million users in the span of just nine short months. Most of its growth over the past year can be attributed to its introduction of Instagram Stories in June 2016. Stories are short videos that disappear after 24 hours, a feature many said was copied from social media rival Snapchat. Since then, Instagram has added many new features in an attempt to differentiate Stories with additions such as Highlights, which allows users to feature stories beyond 24 hours.
This latest milestone makes Instagram the second social media service outside of China to hit the 1 billion user mark, after parent company Facebook. Facebook now owns three platforms with over one billion users each: Instagram, WhatsApp with 1.5 billion users, and Facebook itself with over 2 billion users.
When Facebook first acquired Instagram for USD 1 billion back in 2012, many labelled it a foolish move, calling Instagram “a start-up with no business model.” Since then, however, it has increased its user count 20-fold and turned to advertisements as a monetization strategy. Now, it rakes close to $10 billion in ad revenue annually, or roughly 11% of Facebook’s total revenue for the past year. Were Instagram still an independent company, it could be worth $100 billion, which is a truly remarkable 100-fold return on investment for Facebook.
With the launch of video app IGTV last week, Instagram demonstrated just how much room it has to grow. With a younger user base than Facebook, and steady on track to hit 2 billion users within the next 5 years, Instagram has shown itself to be one of Facebook’s best acquisitions, and one of the most promising and exciting social media platforms to watch right now.