Is it worth developing an Instagram-like app? How do you do it? Read this article to learn how to build an Instagram-like app in five steps.

A global market study by DataReportal found that 4.7 billion people use social media. About 1.5 billion are Instagram users. Facebook, YouTube, and WhatsApp are still niche leaders, but they are not analogs. Instagram is a unique photo-sharing platform that has no comparable clone app in terms of popularity. So, the way for new ideas is open, and you can launch a similar project. The main thing is to implement unique features in your software product. What steps do you need to take to develop an Instagram-like app?

24% of the 4.18 billion active mobile Internet users (one in six people on earth) have Instagram accounts. People have already uploaded over 50 billion photos to the program. 200 million companies have business accounts on the platform. Given these impressive statistics, developing an Instagram-like app seems a failure at the very beginning. How can you compete with such a powerful solution?

But think of messengers like WhatsApp and Telegram. The platforms are quite similar, but each has found its audience. WhatsApp has almost three times as many subscribers as Telegram, but each of the projects develops along a unique path.

This proves that similar ideas can be successful. To attract an audience, it is important to find your own zest — features that will help you stand out from your competitors. Of course, it is hard to become as successful as Instagram (the platform attracted 100,000 users in one week after launch). But you can develop a project idea into something revolutionary, related to photo sharing and rating. Therefore, you should develop an Instagram-like app with a good and unique idea behind it.

Instagram began in 2010 as a photo-sharing platform. As the project developed, new features made the software a unique and almost universal solution for individuals and businesses. We can say that the platform combines three app types: a messenger, a photo editing and sharing solution, and eCommerce software.

When using Instagram as a platform for sharing photos, a person can:

  • create an account;
  • set up a profile;
  • upload/delete photos;
  • edit images using filters, text, and additional tools;
  • leave comments and give likes;
  • mark locations and tag posts.

If we consider Instagram as a messenger, it is easy to find the following options:

  • user profile;
  • the ability to send audio, text message, emoji, and stickers;
  • deleting or unsending a message;
  • blocking unwanted followers.

Businesses use Instagram to post, promote, and advertise products and communicate with customers. The basic business functions that can serve as an example for an analog app are:

  • business profile;
  • product lists;
  • paid posts;
  • advertising capabilities;
  • sales analytics tools.

You should keep an eye on the latest innovations of the platform — Reels, IGTV, and shoppable posts. By adopting the basic functionality of the original, it’s easier to plan the development of an Instagram-like app. To make your software solution unique, build it for people of specific professions (photographers, designers, or artists) or residents of a particular country. Knowledge of the ethnic, religious, and historical features of certain regions will make its design even more appealing.

Building an Instagram-like app does not differ from standard software development. Follow the best practices in Agile and lean development methodologies and take the following five steps:

Your goal is to build a photo-sharing platform. You should research the market to understand how to implement this idea. Determine the circle of competitors and study their software solutions. Familiarize yourself with the peculiarities of their products and read customer reviews. Note their advantages and disadvantages. Find sources of inspiration to refine your idea — and you will come up with a winning implementation. Understand what users are missing and provide a profitable and simplified solution to the problem.

You should find out what your target audience looks like (age, occupation, gender ratio, needs, and concerns). This knowledge will help you understand:

  • what kind of software consumers need;
  • what users like or, on the contrary, what discourages them;
  • what features are priorities for customers;
  • how they want to interact with the software;
  • on which platform the future product should be launched and other details.

This analytical work will result in a business plan. Based on it, you can carry out further activities and develop an Instagram-like app.

A minimum viable product allows you to test the idea on the market, implement the basic functionality of your photo-sharing platform, and check some assumptions. This stage includes thinking through the UI/UX design and developing and testing the MVP.

Typically, development teams carry out these tasks. During this stage, specialists:

— create a prototype — a draft version of the future software;

— select functions to be included in the MVP;

— choose the technology stack (programming language, server, database, libraries, cloud, API) necessary to implement the selected functions, considering the platform;

— develop the MVP according to requirements;

— test the software: check its performance and look for errors in the system;

— release the product to the market to get feedback from users and continue to improve the photo-sharing platform.

Together with the development of the MVP, start marketing activities. By the time the product enters the market, there will appear an audience willing to use the software. Not only paid ads, but also word of mouth will work in favor of the product, thus expanding the circle of users. It is important to consider and implement:

  • activity in social networks;
  • a referral program — give out bonuses for bringing friends;
  • cooperation with influencers;
  • a PR campaign to draw attention to your photo-sharing platform.

This way, you’ll set the stage for the rapid growth of the project. The more people know about the novelty, the more chances for a successful start.

Instagram has been developing a monetization strategy for years. Don’t hesitate to use it as an example to build your own solution: a good product must make money. Otherwise, there is no point in investing in it. You can implement several earning options:

  • payment for the promotion of posts;
  • commission for in-app purchases;
  • payment for access to premium features;
  • income from advertising campaigns.

To properly implement monetization tools, you need to keep track of users’ location, engagement, and activity.

After launching the MVP on the market, continue to add features to your software and closely monitor its “fate”. Track how customers react to changes and modify the product based on user feedback. Initially, Instagram also looked different. Gradually, it added masks and video effects, the ability to upload long videos, and host streams.

So, your photo-sharing platform will grow and get more and more “complicated”. And users will tell you which direction to take. By following the needs of your audience and developing quality functionality, you will create a competitive product.

Developing an Instagram-like app isn’t easy. This process requires a high level of creativity, marketing knowledge, and a technological base. It is important to create something unique and attractive: any detail can play in favor of your idea.

You should preplan and think over all stages to the last detail, from market research to release. Therefore, start development with an MVP to check if your idea is worth investing in. Find out how people react to your photo-sharing platform. Enlist the support of marketing and software development specialists, who will be with you from the start of the project. They will give users what they want by constantly testing and improving the software solution.


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