How to Create an App Like Instagram and Win Over the Market
- 24 min read
Almost 45% of the world’s population is using or has used any social media platform. That comes out to be 3.48 billion people, who are sharing their lives with others.
A popular photo and video sharing app have taken the online world by a storm. Adding Instagram into this mix has taken things to the next level. Today we have Instagram models, people have built businesses out of their Instagram accounts.
With a simple concept, they have generated billions of dollars in revenue and a user base of 800 million. This begs the question, how to create an app like Instagram? Well, this is where you will get the answer.
Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion. Following its success, a lot of other similar applications have popped up. We have Flickr, Swipe, Snapchat, and others.
Where the basic premise of these applications is somewhat like Instagram. They are different in their functionality.
Instagram’s mind-boggling success is credited to its amazing functionalities and user-friendly interface. Merely cloning these features won’t work. You must make something better.
We have jotted down everything that you will need to create an app like Instagram.
Without further ado, let’s begin.
Is creating an app like Instagram worth it?
Instagram is leading the market.
So, when you decide to create an app like Instagram, make sure you’ll offer something valuable. It helps you to find own audience and avoid straight competition.
All you need is a clear set of goals and what you have to offer to the users that are distinct. Instagram is popular, it’s true. But its popularity stems from its user base.
As long as you are providing functionalities liked by the users your application will be successful. The trick, that makes founders successful is to find out how to mix vision with market needs.
To make an app like Instagram you will need resources. Developers, designers, marketers, administrators, project managers, business analysts, and quality checkers. All these factors will define the cost of MVP development.
We are going to discuss everything in complete detail. From the resources to time and the cost. We will discuss it all in the succeeding columns.
What is Instagram?
Instagram is basically a photo-sharing app that has become popular across all domains. Be it as a hobby or a business engagement. Instagram is great at sharing and increasing interaction.
Instagram as a Photo-Sharing App
As a photo-editing and sharing platform, Instagram has a lot of features. I talk about filters, image resizing, geotags, masks, settings of contrast and brightness. They help adjust the quality of the picture at will.
It also allows adding several colorful filters to the images. Thus everyone can beautify their images and photos through Instagram before sharing.
Photo editing is good for ordinary users as well as for any modern business. It attracts the eye of the user.
And allows the business owner to retain customer interest in their product. Hashtags are further used to improve the customer outreach program and potential.
The expansiveness and scalability of the outreach efforts with Instagram are more convenient.
On their part, Instagram has also allowed the users to upload photos on their page.
This is done via third-party apps like Sendible. Thus making it even easier for the businesses to post content on their Instagram handle. This is to pique the interest of their followers.
Instagram as a Social Media App
In addition to photos and video features, Instagram is one of the largest social networks.
That is why (or thanks to this), this application has everything you need for communication.
Built-in messenger, live broadcasts, smart feed with sophisticated content algorithms and smart recommendations.
All this extends the possibilities of the application, as well as the business options for monetizing the insane amount of traffic involved.
Instagram as a Social e-commerce App
The funny thing – the social e-commerce market is Instagram. Why?
Because Instagram provides the major toolset to engage and communicate to both influencers or direct audience.
And that’s where social effect comes into play.
Social e-commerce is brand advocacy, that builds trust and makes people believe in the brand. Nothing builds more trust, than the engagement of influencers.
Ever since the users can buy stuff on Instagram it has transformed user experience.
There are hundreds of brands that exhibit their products on the platform. The motive is to increase their outreach.
Instagram has made it possible for brands and influencers to come together.
It has become easier for brands to attract new leads and catalyze conversions.
And this will provide a transitioning effect that will reimagine the customer experience.
How to make an app like Instagram?
The process of making an app like Instagram is multi-faceted.
From market research to development, plan every step.
In the beginning, figure out what must be the USP – Unique Selling Proposition. That too, before you understand how to build an app like Instagram for Android and iOS.
The motive of making an Instagram clone has to be shared with the development team upfront. Plan out the basic features that an application must-have. For an app like Instagram, posting and uploading pictures and videos is essential.
Other than this, what else can you add? Live videos, stories, messenger, IGTV, hashtags, tagging, geo-location. Jot down these features and any other feature you want to provide your users.
Retrica is another app that resembles Instagram allows users to make GIFs out of videos. Also, with it, the users can also apply filters before clicking a picture.
Further down the line, you can also add a share route feature in your Instagram like app. This will tend to increase the potential of using Instagram as a tourism app.
Also, you can also integrate a feature whereby the clicked pictures improve automatically. Like it happens on iPhone, it filters out the best image from a collection of photos.
Further, set a timeline and budget. Also, decide the set of technologies that you must use for the development process.
Even though the application is in a pre-development phase, start marketing it. Create a hype in the market about what is coming. Let the people know what you have to offer.
Create channels to get customer feedback. Get feedback from your users and clients.
It is not essential to bombard users with everything right away. Validate business ideas first.
You can also add some new features as Instagram did with their application. So, while you create a photo-sharing app, first understand the market.
Also, understand what your customers are missing and then you must add some new features.
This can be anything from simple addition to something complex yet useful. Like letting the users see their followers’ activity. Or, it may be increasing the video creation limit to more than 60 seconds.
The motive is to keep up with your competitors. Planning and research are of paramount importance for creating an app like Instagram.
Market Research and Planning for Creating an app like Instagram
Before creating any application let alone an app like Instagram. Conduct thorough research. The purpose of this R&D is to analyze the market position of similar applications.
Starting with market research on Instagram, widen your sphere of research. Other than this, you must also understand:
- What makes users stick to one application?
- What are the features and services offered by competitor applications?
- Your target audience, where will you launch the application? What is the user base in that location? What do they like and dislike?
Since your mind is set towards what kind of application you want to build. You must focus your market research on Instagram. Identify, what it is that Instagram offers and how to improve upon that.
The planning team must be able to identify the drawbacks of Instagram (don’t worry, we will talk about it later). Work to improvise and fill the gaps left by Instagram.
In any case, your application must be able to solve a problem. The time when the Instagram app came, there was no other app. That allowed the users to share and edit the photos on a single platform.
So, Instagram came out and solved a problem for the users. In just 2 months of its release, Instagram had a user base of 1 million. That is the benefit of conducting accurate and extensive research.
You may also have to find out what it is that every photo-sharing app is missing. Connect the dots and you work on it.
Instagram has evolved from a simple photo-sharing app to an e-commerce platform. And the benefit of this transformation is that today Instagram earns a commission for every sale that is made through its platform.
When you are looking to create an app like Instagram, focus on solving some problems for the users. Identify the pain points and provide solutions that help resolve them.
From time to time, Instagram has also introduced some new features.
When businesses were finding it difficult to educate their customers, Instagram launched IGTV.
Any user can create their own channel and share product videos.
This gave the businesses a platform to further increase their product’s visibility. Also, keep the audience entertained.
- Live Video
Instagram Live Video further enhances the brand’s visibility and ensures authenticity.
Every time a user starts a live video, the followers will get a notification about the same. The users can also comment on the video which increases customer interaction.
Live Video is beneficial for product marketing, e-commerce, and branding. Influencer marketers can upload promotional content through this feature.
Instagram stories have been one of the most important aspects of Instagram.
A 10-second image and 15-second video story show on top of the feed page. A user can add an unlimited number of stories on Instagram. And also enjoy direct messaging via them.
Product tagging within stories also makes it easier for businesses to promote products.
Instagram has added such features that address specific problems faced by the users. While you are conducting market research into how to build an app like Instagram.
Consider adding these attractive features to your application.
Success Factors for App Development
What makes Instagram successful?
The fact that it is owned by Facebook which is the biggest social media platform out there. Or that Instagram is an application that generated more than $20 billion in 2019.
None of these are true.
Every application that is launched in the market with a purpose. They all have a USP. But whether or not that USP resonates with the audience, matters.
Here are a few success factors that you must consider before understanding how to create a new app.
- Experience and Entertainment
Instagram is here to provide a comfortable and unique User Experience.
There are various conveniences to realize this goal. Like, moving between the screens, checking out new stories, messaging, posting and uploading. Everything provides the best UX.
You will find a lot of other applications that develop on the same lines as Instagram. The learning curve of Instagram is pretty much horizontal. Instagram is so simple to use that any new user won’t have to struggle with locating its prominent features.
From flashing cursors to mapped out buttons, Instagram is a user-oriented application. It is easier to switch between the screens. The feed page shows relevant content and receives quick updates.
Every little detail comes from the perspective of the user. How to make it convenient for the user to use the application. You also need to think from a user’s perspective for making an app like Instagram.
Instagram has evolved over time. It started as a simple photo-sharing app. As the trend of posting and sharing squared shaped photos picked up speed. By that time, Instagram had reached 1 million users within 2 months.
When Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion in 2012 it wasn’t generating any revenue. To generate revenue out of it, Facebook introduced sponsored posts.
The organic method of targeting interested customers wasn’t effective at this point. This further gave birth to posting ads on Instagram. They updated their API from time to time. This allowed integrations with external applications.
Boomerang, is one of the most used external apps on Instagram. IT is another example of bringing something new to the application. The motive is to rekindle the user’s interest.
It is a must understand what purpose does any new feature or addition serves for the users. Building an app like Instagram involves a great length of research. Also, it involves understanding the user’s needs and problems.
One of the greatest benefits of having Instagram is that users can use it for various purposes. Instagram started as an application to share stories and photos. Today it has become an e-commerce platform.
As long as any mobile application is helping the users in some manner, they will continue to use it. At the point where utility becomes imminent, we can ignore the entertainment factor.
The utility is essential to keep the users and make sure that they are loyal to it.
An application’s usability is yet another investment. This is essential to ensure its success. Like if we were to talk about Google Maps. This is one of the most extensively used navigation applications.
Instagram’s usability again stems from the user’s interest. And the interest keeps on evolving. Anyone may not have asked how important Instagram is for business a few years back.
But today, almost every business owner needs an answer to this question. As the user’s interest changed, Instagram’s business model also changed. We have seen several new additions to the interface.
Features like stories, direct messages, Instagram ads, and others came at a later stage. At some point, all these new features have their exclusive uses and benefits.
You must also continuously develop your application and assess its usability. Giving it upgrades, tweaks and improving its performance plays a big role in its success.
There are a lot of other factors like functionality, customer support, and maintenance. But, these three aspects hold prominence and make a big difference.
Technical Aspects for creating an app like Instagram
Under the technical aspects, you must decide the languages to use for development. Other than this, choose the platforms for creating frameworks and for the database.
Which will be the payment gateways that you must embed into your application. What cloud service will you use? Also, decide upon extra tools that you must use while developing the app?
The stand-alone features of an app like Instagram photo sharing. This is the most basic aspect of such an application. What differentiates your application from similar apps is the UI and UX designing.
Further, easy navigability within the app, appealing visuals and graphics, user-oriented and personal feed. These are some of the technical aspects that you must take care of before starting with the development process.
Using the appropriate Tech-Stack
How to create a mobile app? There are different technologies used for front-end and back-end development. Then we have the designing technologies. And the tools to maintain the server-side of the application.
Starting with the programming languages. We use Laravel for backend and React Native for frontend development.
For maintaining a database, you can use PostgreSQL. Cloud Services can be handled with Amazon Services.
For payment gateways, PayPal, Braintree, and Stripe are good options.
Other than this, you must also use some other tools. This includes Elastic-Search, Google Maps, Google Analytics, and Twilio. They are for handling different services and functions.
Here are a couple of image examples for the tech stack:
This means that the Instagram tech stack is extensive. It is essential to work with a team that has the required expertise and knowledge of these tools.
From full-stack developers to design experts, you can either choose to hire an in-house team or outsource.
Composition of the Development and Designing Team
The Ideal team that you must employ for the development of an app like Instagram consists of several professionals and experts.
You will require the services of 1 Business Analyst, 1 Project Manager, 1 Back End Developer. Also, you need2 Mobile Developers, 1 UI/UX Designer, 1 QA Tester, 1 Devops, and 1 Tech Lead.
A team of these 9 professionals is a must if you want to create an app that resembles Instagram and can compete in the market.
Every person on your team will have a set task. They need to create a product that is better than Instagram in all aspects.
From the design to interface and basic functionalities, everything has to be robust.
There are four types of teams that you can employ in your service.
- An in-house team
- Hiring a Local Agency
- Choosing Freelancers to work with you
- Outsourcing the whole process.
Hiring an in-house team will let you communicate better. Also, the in-house team can understand the vision behind the creation of the app. Yet it isn’t a cheap option to start.
Contrary to it, you can also outsource the entire process. Hiring dedicated freelancers from across the globe is also possible. This can save you money, but collaborating on this scale won’t be easy.
In case, you work with an unlimited budget to develop an Instagram clone, cooperate with local development agencies.
The most efficient way to start your app is to outsource development. It’s cheap and quality at the same time.
Basic Features of Instagram
In the next segment of how to create an app like Instagram, we will talk about the features.
Adding different sorts of features to your application is very important. Instagram has also developed its user base on the shoulders of these features.
The number of key features of Instagram has increased over the years. What started as a simple photo-sharing app has developed into something quite extraordinary.
Who knew that a simple photo-sharing app can help users generate thousands of dollars.
And every new feature so added has a purpose. Stories are meant to increase engagement, direct messaging increase interaction. Then we have IGTV, in-app purchases, GPS, searching, integration with other platforms and whatnot.
To make sure that your app is better than this, you need to add all these features. After learning how to create a new app. You also need to know what features you can add to make it even better than others.
Listed below are the features that you must consider while making an app like Instagram.
- Photo and Video Upload
This is the most basic part of making an app like Instagram. In that too, you must allow the users to preview, edit, add filters, tag, and even take pictures.
This is also an area where you can develop your application further and make it better than Instagram. Like when a user clicks photos through Instagram for posting, they cannot crop it directly.
Even though the user can set plenty of other filters and do adjustments, they cannot crop their photos. Uploading videos and photos and adding filters to them requires coding on both the front end and back end.
Creating a video and recording it for 15 to 20 seconds will take up to a minimum of 200 hours of coding on the front end.
Further, adding filters and effects to them will take 8 hours of coding each. Add another 8 hours for camera flip, toggling the beaut mode, toggle flash, and set the speed each.
Cumulatively, this takes around 300 hours of coding for setting the structure for the video uploading part.
- Registration Process
The signup process is more like “first impression is the last impression”.
The more you make the user wait, the higher are the chances they will opt-out. Yes, applications like Instagram need information from the user. But to what extent?
Longer pages of obtaining information from the users are frustrating. What you can do is either extract information from Facebook. Or, you can send push notifications to the users to complete their basic information at a later stage.
Google does not ask for the user’s phone number and image initially. They notify the user to complete their profile at later stages.
This makes adding a login option via another social media platform or even Google necessary.
While creating an app that resembles Instagram, the first step is to architect the registration or sign up process.
Talking in terms of hours, front-end coding for setting up the username, password, adding a phone number and email address will take 14 hours of coding.
At the back-end, it will take around 32 hours of coding for the same process. Setting the profile picture and User’s interest settings will also take 8 hours of coding each on both the ends, Front and Back.
The part where the users can watch the videos posted on Instagram without registration, that takes another 6 hours of coding. And when they want to sign up through Gmail or Facebook it will take another 6 hours of coding and writing for each platform.
In total, 140 hours are required to set up the registration process when you are creating an app like Instagram.
On Instagram, any user can search for hashtags, people, and pages. Including the search in your application is essential for better user experience.
It may look small, but the search is the most important feature of Instagram. Give the users the ability to look out for their favorite pages, people, and hashtags. This will increase the likeability of the application.
The registration is complete. Now what? Why will the user come back to your application?
This is where the push notifications come in. Instagram sends out notifications when new stories are added.
Also, when a user adds a photo, you will get a notification. These features prompt the user to come back to the application again and again.
Instagram has an intuitive way of sending notifications to the users which makes them come back to the app frequently. At the back-end, knowing who likes your photo, video, or any post requires 20 hours of coding. The front-end coding for the same will be finished in 16 hours.
Next up, there is “Who has followed you”, “notifications”, “who has shared your video”, “comments”, and “even profile views”. The front end coding for all these functions on an app like Instagram will consume 88 hours. And when it comes to back-end development, it takes 110 hours.
So, to sum it up, the notifications part is going to take 198 hours of the developers’ expertise and time.
- Furnishing your Profile
The user profile section of Instagram requires intensive research and development. Starting from setting up your username, profile picture, and other basic info, this has been covered above.
Then comes following people, this takes 4 hours of coding on the back end and 6 hours at the front-end. Counting the number of videos and photos uploaded and created on the photo-sharing app takes another 4 and 6 hours at the Back end and Front end respectively.
A list of videos that have been created by a user can also be seen on Instagram. But that will take 14 hours of the coding process in the back-end and 22 hours in the front-end.
Finding new contact, merging them from Facebook or your contact list is also required. This allows the users to increase their engagement with other users on this platform. In terms of coding, it takes 28 hours of coding in the back-end and 46 hours in the front-end.
Setting the country or region is also important. For that, the developers may need to work for 4 hours and 6 hours on the back and front end, respectively.
Toggling privacy settings require 15 hours of coding on front-end and back-end each. Including privacy settings is essential to insert while building a social media application like Instagram. Not everybody wants to share their photos and videos with everyone on the web.
These are functions that are necessary to insert in your Instagram clone in the 1st phase. In addition to this, you can also add features like sharing a profile on other social media platforms (10 hours – front-end).
Changing the language on Instagram takes up to 15 hours of coding on the front end and 30 hours at the back end.
To sum it up, changing, altering or modifying the profile settings on Instagram like app is some work. It will take around 225 hours of work to change or modify profiles.
- Integration with other Platforms
Instagram has a feature whereby the user can share the same photo on Facebook. Well, even though Facebook owns Instagram, what’s stopping you from doing the same. So, you must add this feature while you create an app like Instagram
Using Facebook to market your application and share photos will bring in new users and engagement. The ease of sharing these pictures automatically or with a tap is also recommended.
This will help in two ways. One is that your users will find it convenient to share their stories. Second, your application will get the needed exposure out there.
And integrating with Facebook on this level will be a great marketing tactic. Also, when you are looking out for the advantages of a business Instagram account, these integrations are also essential.
- Interacting with Stories
This feature is particularly important for advertising. So this is particularly important with Instagram for business. Users can create polls, surveys, ask questions, and do a lot more with this feature.
Messaging through stories in an amazing way to further increase engagement. Understand that, with an application such as Instagram, more interaction means better business.
- Location Integration
Many users want their followers to know their location. Adding GPS function in the application is important for making your application dynamic.
Your application should get user location on its own. Other than this, in places where the GPS targeting is weak. The application must have a relevant mechanism for setting the location.
GPS tagging is also important from the engagement point of view. Tagging places in the stories, or tagging other people in a story has also proven to be a good thing for the users.
- The Activities Section or Instagram Feed
Instagram users may also want to know what their followers are up to. In the activity section, they can know what they are doing. Earlier, it was also possible to know what posts are liked by a user. Or what pages are the users following?
But, now Instagram has removed this feature, even though the users liked it. And this is where you can benefit from it.
- Sending Messages
Messaging with followers and other users is one of the most essential functions of Instagram. In the history of Instagram, direct messaging with the users has been applauded.
This is also where you can add some new features to the direct messaging function. This is where the research part comes in. Employing a dedicated team to find flaws in Instagram and improve upon them.
That is how you can gain an edge over Instagram and create an Instagram clone that is better than the parent version.
- Instagram Stories
Instagram stories are similar to Facebook and WhatsApp stories. But with Instagram, the users get notifications after these stories are added.
Instagram has also added the “Close Friends” option. In this, the stories uploaded by the users are only shared with close friends, chosen by the user.
This is something new that only Instagram has to offer. You won’t find such features on WhatsApp and Facebook.
Cost and Time Estimation of the Features:
|Task||Number of Hours|
|Registration (Basic Info)||Back End||Front End||Summary|
|Registration (Fetching Details from Other Platforms)||18||30||48|
|Profile Set up and Modifications||67||107||144|
|Photo and Video Creation and Upload (Adding Effects, filters, Beauty Mode, Setting Speed)||160||290||450|
|Sharing Videos on Instagram and other Platforms||–||45||45|
|User Activity (Likes Shares, Comments, Following)||50||48||98|
Cost to develop an app like Instagram
Let’s address the elephant in the room, How much does it cost to make an app like Instagram?
In order to deduce the cost to build an app like Instagram, we will calculate the total number of hours deployed. Let us break down the major elements of creating such an app and hours needed for it.
|Task||Number of Hours|
|Total Number of Hours||2454|
These estimates have been prepared after real-time estimation for developing an app like Instagram. Now that we have understood the amount of work that needs to be put in.
Let us talk about the cost of making an app like Instagram:
The total number of hours is 2454. And we are talking about outsourcing here and not hiring an in-house team for the said task.
Appfutura talks about Hackerank, which is a global event that assesses the developers from all over the world. They have set certain parameters that are taken into account before reaching the final results.
The average rate of application development in India is somewhere between $25 to $30 per hour. Let us keep the average rate to $27 per hour.
Coming to Ukraine, the average rate here is $35 per hour.
Lastly, China has an hourly rate of $30/hour.
Calculating the total cost on the basis of these hourly rates, the total cost in India will be $66, 798. If you are hiring developers in Ukraine, then the price will be $86, 590. Developers and Designers in China will take $74, 220.
There are other locations too where you can get developers at even lower rates. But, when it comes to quality work and accuracy, Ukrainian developers make the best fit.
Here is a table to help you understand things easily:
|Country||Total Number of Hours||Hourly Rate||Total Cost|
Drawbacks of Instagram
Instagram has millions of daily users, and an innumerable number of photos are shared on the app every day. People from all over the globe are using the Instagram app for entertainment and business purposes.
One may think that an app with this scale of operations and popularity is downright perfect. But no, there are a few disadvantages of Instagram.
Instagram poses a cut-throat competition in the photo-sharing app industry. But there are still some loopholes that can act as a good point to overcome it.
- Access to your Content
The pictures and videos you post on Instagram are for the world to see and share. You do not have the sole right to your content. Even though sharing content is good for business, it is also bad for copyright issues.
With your app, you can prevent it. Restricting the usage of such material without permission will be a good point to add to your USP.
- Lower Conversions
The conversion rate of Instagram is 3%. This means that for every 100 users coming to an Instagram business page, only 3 of them will convert.
This rate is lower as compared to Facebook or even WhatsApp. There is limited availability to track metrics and analytics on Instagram.
This is another aspect where you can work. Add the analytics part to your photo-sharing app and develop it further from a business perspective.
How Does Instagram Earn Money?
For the first two years of its operation, Instagram did not have a revenue model. Even if they had one, it had not been implemented. It was when Facebook acquired Instagram that they started with Sponsored posts. This marked the beginning of revenue generation.
As it has been said before that increasing engagement is good for every business. The same goes for developing an app like Instagram.
Starting with the sponsored posts, you can also earn revenue from :
- Social e-commerce
Advertisements: Instagram has gradually allowed users to post their ads on the platform. It shows Feed Ads, Carousel Ads, Story Ads, and Video Ads. Advertising is the most significant source of earning revenue for Instagram.
Merkle prepared a digital marketing report in 2019. They have found that the amount of money spent on Instagram for advertising grew by 177% within one year. And the same for Facebook increased by only 40%.
This shows the potential of earning money from an app like Instagram. You must aim to increase engagement. The higher the number of users on your application, better will be the scope of generating revenue.
Social eCommerce: This is a new and better approach to earn money after you develop an app like Instagram.
Several brands today utilize the engagement potential of Instagram to promote their products. Users can buy products by following the links and Instagram earns a commission out of every sale.
Although Social eCommerce is a relatively new niche to earn, it has a huge potential. Especially when brands from all over the globe are jumping on board to increase engagement and interaction.
Can the Users also make money on Instagram?
How to make money from Instagram account? Selling products and services is the most common way to earn money from Instagram.
Creating an Instagram promotion strategy that targets customer engagement and interaction. Further, you can also create Instagram ads for higher interaction and engagement.
Even Instagram stories display ads. This is yet another way of increasing customer engagement. Also, with this, you can add more users to the business account.
Instagram is a user-oriented platform. You will need strategies and tactics to increase the user base.
In the process of understanding how to create an app like Instagram, you must consider every little detail.
There are millions of mobile applications out there. Creating something unique and attractive is important.
Everything matters. From the icon style to the font and the server-end support. You must create a product that is more likely to solve the issues users are facing with Instagram.
In this article, you have understood how to build an app like Instagram. From the 1st stage of market research to the final Quality Assurance, all of it has to be planned and well structured.
In the end, it is also to build a dynamic app. Always have room for improvement and scale the application.