#TBT: The History of Instagram

Katie White

Mar 21, 2024 . 7 minutes read

The history of instagram

10 years ago today I posted my first ever Instagram photo.

Very creatively captioned “:D first photo :D”, with the (quite frankly horrendous) ‘poprocket’ filter, this was the very start of my journey with social media.


Little did I know that a decade later, I’d be working in a job where posting to Instagram is part of my day-to-day role.

To celebrate, I thought I’d take a deep dive into the last 10 years of Instagram, remembering all the trends, significant updates and taking a look at what’s to come.

2014: The Year of the Selfie 🤳


While Instagram officially launched in 2010, I didn’t grace the app until 2014, so that’s where we’ll start. In just 3.5 years, Insta had garnered an impressive 300 million followers.

It was the year of that viral Oscar’s photo, the ice bucket challenge and Alex from Target. Of course, we can’t forget that Kim Kardashian Paper Magazine shoot that broke the internet.

From your beat up converse to your #cheekynandos, posting photos of just about anything was socially acceptable in 2014.

2015: #Aesthetic 🎀


By 2015, Instagram saw a shift as people started to put more effort into the aesthetic value of their posts, becoming more creative with their photography and editing. Apps like VSCO and Retrica became popular thanks to their wide range of filters and grid options, which fuelled an obsession with posting various snapshots of our eyes. Weird.

Around this time, we started to see people posting flat lay outfit inspos to their feed. These would eventually become what we now know as fashion influencers.

One outfit in particular that divided the internet was the dress. Yes, that one. (It’s white and gold. End of discussion.)

In October of 2015, Instagram released the Boomerang app, which allowed users to take short looping videos. This prompted thousands of ‘cheers’ videos that still make an appearance at every bottomless brunch today.

2016: A Time for Change 🔄


2016 was a huge year for Instagram. With 500 million users, Instagram recognised it was time for an update.

They replaced the original vintage camera logo with a flattened neon gradient design to reflect how vibrant and diverse people’s storytelling on the app had become since its initial launch. The feed also received a redesign, making it more sleek and modern.

A month later, Instagram Stories launched. Following the popularity of Snapchat’s stories, Instagram integrated a similar feature at the top of the feed, allowing users to share photos that would disappear after 24 hours.

The same year, business profiles became available- a huge milestone for brands looking to use Instagram as a marketing platform. Business profiles came with a new set of tools to help businesses succeed, including ‘Insights’ which offered businesses valuable data about their audience and ‘Promote’, which let them target more specific audiences, using the data gathered from Insights.


This is where we really started to see a shift in the type of content we saw on our feeds. Posts became more polished, with professional creatives working behind the scenes to produce beautiful images, videos and designs.

Another update that helped marketers target more specific audiences was the change to the feed from chronological to an order based on the interest and likes of the user.

2017: A Quieter Year 😌


After such a significant overhaul in 2016, Instagram saw very little updates in 2017. However in February ‘carousels’ allowed users to add up to 10 photos within a single post. Not only did this get rid of the problem of having to decide on just one selfie, brands could get creative with carousels, offering more information about their products or services per post.

It also meant we could see multiple memes at a time about the infamous Fyre Festival and the La La Land/Moonlight fiasco at the Oscars that year.

2018: IGTV and Niche Communities 👂

In June 2018, Instagram hit 1 billion monthly users. That same month, IGTV launched on the app, opening opportunities for more long-form videos.

With the introduction of IGTV, ASMR became the top niche community trend of the year, with videos of soap cutting, tapping and slime filling our feeds. The game Fortnite also grew rapidly, with #fortnite being the fastest growing hashtag globally.

The #inmyfeelingschallenge became the the biggest viral dance challenge of the year, with celebrities like Will Smith and Shay Mitchell participating.

2018 was also a huge year for advocacy, with the #metoo, #timesup and #marchforourlives trending.

2019: The Egg that Broke Cracked a World Record 🥚


In January 2019, a mysterious account with the handle @world_record_egg set out to break the record for the most liked photo on Instagram to dethrone Kylie Jenner’s baby announcement post.

With a stock image of an egg and the goal of over 18 million likes, it seemed impossible. But sure enough, people love a challenge. In just 10 days, the egg made history with an incredible 28.3million likes.

But who was behind the egg? On 4 February during the Superbowl ad break, it was revealed that Mental Health America was behind the the egg was part of a promotion by Mental Health America for TalkingEgg.info, a website that offers links to mental health support organisations.

Now that’s some powerful marketing.


By March 2019, Instagram introduced Shopping, a new way for people to buy products without leaving the app.

This made it much easier for brands to create interactive shopping experiences through their visual content. Audiences could now tap a product in post and be taken to the brand’s shop to buy it directly in the app.

As well as Shopping, Instagram also took steps to improve the mental wellbeing of its users by offering the option to hide like counts on posts to ‘depressurise Instagram’ and shift the focus to more meaningful connections.

This came after users complained about the pressure to always look perfect for Instagram, and the unrealistic expectations set by influencers, especially for young people.

2020: The Transition to Video ▶️


At the start of 2020, we had no idea what was to come.

The COVID-19 pandemic sent the world into lockdown, and with so many of us at home with little to do, the new app TikTok quickly gained popularity. Unlike Instagram, TikTok was a place for authenticity- something people were craving during a time of uncertainty and worry.

By Q3 2020, TikTok has 667 million users. Instagram knew TikTok was onto something, and it introduced Instagram Reels, which was essentially TikTok but on Instagram.

Reels helped Instagram to become more of a video platform in a way that IGTV never did, by integrating videos into the feed, rather than having it as a separate tab.

2021: Getting Professional 👔


2021 was a year of lots of smaller changes, kicking off with the new Professional Dashboard for Creator and Business accounts. This offered a greater range of insights and trends to help brands improve their account performance.

Throughout the year, there were numerous additional stickers added to stories, allowing users to include links, captions, ‘add yours’ and emoji reactions.

Users could also collaborate on posts, with the option to add another user as a collaborator which then displays their name at the top of the post and is displayed to the followers of both.

2022: Time for a Fresh Look ✨

In January 2022 Instagram started to test feed changes, offering customisation options including: Home, Favourites and Following. Users could choose the order in which posts appeared on their feed.

Home is Instagram’s algorithm feed, which is based on your interests, with suggested posts from accounts you don’t follow scattered throughout.

Following is the feed that allows users to see content only from profiles they’re following in chronological order.

Favourites feed lets users add their favourite people and see only content from them.

In the same month, Instagram also introduced a new feature for influencers called Instagram Subscriptions which allows creators to monetise exclusive experiences. The three types of subscription include:

  • Subscriber Lives, where only those subscribed can watch creator livestreams.

  • Subscriber Stories, where creators can publish stories to only their subs (marked with a purple ring)

  • Subscriber Badges, which are purple badges for subscribers to help them stand out in comments and DMs.


In May, Instagram had a brand refresh, including a new font, a brighter colour palette and change to the video format in feeds, where videos would take up the full screen. This came as Instagram shifted its focus to a more video-centric algorithm, with an announcement addressing the changes delivered by Head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri.

Check out our full guide to Instagram’s Brand Refresh here

2023: Threads Rivals Twitter ⚔️


Following the total brand refresh in 2022, 2023 had only a few updates to offer, including gifs in comments, monetised ‘gifts’ and the option to add a poll into a main feed post.

However, one of the most significant updates was the launch of a new Instagram app called Threads. Following the criticism of Twitter’s transition to X, Instagram created its own conversation based platform.

Although Threads received an insane amount of attention post-launch with 1 million users in its first hour and 70 million users in just two days, the hype has somewhat died down

2024: What’s to Come? 👀


If you’ve never heard the term ‘finsta’ before, it’s basically a ‘fake insta’ or a second account that users make to share more private content with a smaller audience, compared to their main profile.

Based on this concept, this year, Instagram is testing a feature called Flipside, which allows users to create a private section of their profile for sharing more personal content exclusively with close friends.

This means users can maintain a separate section from their profile, without the need to create a whole new account.

Currently Flipside is only available to select accounts while Instagram still trials the feature and there is not yet a date for the widespread launch.

While there has been no official news, Instagram is reportedly developing a ‘Friend Map’ which allows users to see their friends’ locations in real time on a map, much like Snapmaps which launched on Snapchat back in 2017.

While the idea has generated some excitement, the real-time tracking element has raised some eyebrows when it comes to the privacy implications and the risk of stalking or unwanted monitoring.

So, there we have it! The ultimate roundup of Instagram's updates over the last 10 years. 

That brings us to today and, just in case you're curious, here's a recent post from my Instagram.


A better camera and filter. Still need to work on my captions I think 🤔

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