How to create a photo sharing app like Instagram
Today most of us cannot imagine our everyday routine without social networks. We use these platforms to communicate with friends, share the latest news, and find out what is happening in other people's lives. So it's no surprise that the demand for social media services has gone wild lately. And the rightful place among them is taken by Instagram, which belongs to the photo-sharing apps.
Instagram can easily compete in popularity with Facebook, although the latter is also very famous and sought-after. At any rate, we’re now evaluating the beauty of the pictures taken in terms of their compliance with Instagram standards. Moreover, as one Forbes article says, many people buy home decor only if it looks good in the photo (after all, we’re going to post this photo on Instagram, so it has no choice but to look good!).
It would appear it's time to create an Instagram clone and start monetizing it. Are you also fascinated with such a tempting idea? Then you should definitely read our new article. We'll tell you if you have any chance to succeed in rivaling Instagram. Besides, you'll learn what to consider during the development process.
What is Instagram?
Every smartphone has a camera, which means each of us is able to become a kind of photographer. And the Internet provides an opportunity to publish the result of our photo-creativity on the network, to make it available to all users.
Mike Krieger and his friend Kevin Systrom decided to take advantage of these modern possibilities and our desire to share with each other the sweet moments of life captured in the picture. They came up with the idea of creating a photo-sharing app, which they boldly implemented 10 years ago. That's how Instagram began its existence (more precisely, it was released back in 2010). Since then, the application has been actively gaining popularity and winning more and more loyal users.
Of course, we mainly resort to Instagram to post our everyday photos and video stories. Recently, however, a lot of entrepreneurs have begun to use this service as a powerful business platform, as it is a perfect tool to promote various goods and services.
There is something to think about, right? But before we explain to you how to build an app like Instagram, we'd like to discuss a few more things to inspire you even more.
Trust us, Instagram has a lot to be proud of!
Instagram has no direct competitors (at least, so popular ones), which makes the niche of photo-sharing apps attractive as a startup.
Do you think the idea is too daring? However, don’t rush to conclusions! Let's recall WhatsApp and Viber: both applications are in great demand in the market, although they perform the same tasks. So you, too, can emulate the success of Instagram... with the right approach.
And above all, you need to consider the key app features.
Features of your photo-sharing app like Instagram
You have two main groups of users, and you have to provide each one with its own set of features.
Everything is simple here: these are people who want to use your application to publish photos and videos.
Sign-Up & Sign-In
Ideally, each application should have a registration feature. However, for social media services, which include photo-sharing apps, it is mandatory. Offer users several sign-up options:
through a phone number or email;
using an account on Facebook, Google, or another similar social network;
Also, consider providing the possibility to sign in with Face ID.
In-app registration leads to the creation of a personal account, where all information about the user is stored. Of course, this section should be manageable. The user must have access to it in order to change or supplement data about himself (or herself), if necessary.
Communication within the application isn't the main feature of social media platforms, but it is very desirable. In the end, you want to create an Instagram clone, and this network provides users with the possibility to exchange messages. So why not follow its lead?
By the way, what about video chat? Naturally, the video feature is quite expensive to develop but consider its implementation later when your app proves successful and you have to think about improving it further.
Posting photos and videos
The main purpose of a mobile application like Instagram is to share photos and video content. So this feature is absolutely essential. Users would be happy to show the world their memories and emotions, captured in the form of vivid images.
And don’t forget to provide an opportunity to like and comment on posts, users will gladly take the chance to leave their feedback under friends’ publications.
Editing photos and videos
So, the user wants to publish the photo he has taken... but here's the problem, the reality isn't as attractive as he'd like it to be! What should he do? That's right, he needs to edit the image using filters, playing with contrast and perspective, and resorting to other cool settings.
Do you see what we're up to? Add photo editing features! Take an example from Instagram and let your users bring bright colors to their drab existence.
The idea of creating a photo-sharing app like Instagram has no meaning if you don't consider adding Stories. At least, other social-media platforms have proven from their own experience that such a feature is very popular with users and thereby increases their engagement. And the higher the user engagement, the easier it is to monetize the application.
By default, the "life" of a story lasts 24 hours (provided the user hasn't changed this period at will). But you're welcome to set your own rules.
Integration with social networks
"Why do we need integration with social networks?" - you may ask. It's very simple: even if you manage to develop a social media app like Instagram, users are unlikely to forget other popular platforms. And they'll be happy to link their profile in your app to their favorite social accounts. This would allow them to publish posts on several networks at once, without unnecessary steps. Put it otherwise, if a user posts a photo in your application, it automatically appears on his Facebook, Instagram, or Tumblr page.
Users love to relax by browsing the news feed and reading (and watching) what is happening in the lives of their friends. Give them such an opportunity!
Interacting with other users' profiles
Also, users of photo-sharing apps should be able to follow the accounts of other people, add them as friends, and visit their pages.
When using the application, sooner or later we are faced with the need to find something, be it content of a certain type, an account, etc. And that's the situation when the search engine comes to the rescue.
In addition, we advise you to improve the search process with useful filtering (by popularity, upload date, rating, number of comments, and so on).
Traveling around the world, we take photos and videos to show which countries we've visited. And our photo and video report will inevitably appear on the Instagram page and, possibly, on your social-media platform. Of course, each of us would be happy to supplement our post with not only a beautiful description but also a location mark indicating where a certain picture was taken.
So when creating an Instagram clone app, be sure to implement the geolocation feature (say, by integrating with Google Maps or another similar service).
Notifications are a great way to retain a user and get him to return to your application. That's why all the best social networking apps recurse to this method of attracting customers. You should do the same.
Inform users about anything potentially interesting, such as:
one of his friends has made a new post or published a story for the first time in a long time;
a new message has been received;
and so on.
We recommend using a special algorithm to help you analyze user behavior and act accordingly.
And finally, the user should be able to manage the settings of photo-sharing apps: select the language, change the security settings, and more.
In order to create an Instagram clone, you have also to figure out what features might help the admin manage your platform. Let's briefly list them:
Authorization (who could do without it?);
Dashboard providing access to different sections of the platform;
User management. The feature is necessary so that the admin can ban or delete users if needed;
Content management. The task is to give the admin the ability to track the content uploaded by users and delete it if it doesn’t meet your requirements.
Analytics: a collection of statistics, preparation of reports on system activity.
Now we should see how to build an app like Instagram, step by step.
Tips for creating an Instagram clone app
So you’re considering the idea of creating a successful photo-sharing app like Instagram. Let's say right away: the task isn't an easy one, to say the least. You'll have to invest a lot of time and effort to get even a small chance to compete with such a famous brand.
Here are a couple of tips to get you started:
First of all, you need to come up with a name for your resource: it should be short, bright, catchy, and easy to remember.
Then you have to think about your budget. The fact is, the cost to develop an app like Instagram is very high, and it isn't easy to finance it yourself. Perhaps, you should find an investor and make him interested in your project.
Also, we advise you to take the easy way out and not reinvent the wheel. Just clone the main Instagram functionality, come up with an original UI design, and add a few interesting features. Such an approach is much easier to implement.
Now let's go through the development stages and finally figure out how to make a social media app able to compete with Instagram.
According to statistics, the success of any application depends on the collection and analysis of data by 30%. So take your time with this critical development phase and answer the following questions:
What does a modern user expect from a mobile application like Instagram?
What apps are among the top ones today?
The answer to the second question is especially important since it is with these applications that you have to compete. Here are some popular photo-sharing apps to analyze (but try to find more examples):
Pinterest. The service is aimed at a female audience. Women love using Pinterest to share pictures of clothes, recipes, and handicrafts.
EyeEm, a platform for photography professionals. These users not only showcase their working results but also sell them to eminent brands.
Imgur. Among its users are people who prefer amusing content: memes, funny photos, interesting gifs, and comics.
The market analysis should result in a detailed strategy. Having a thorough plan of action, you can safely move on to the next stage.
The idea of creating a photo-sharing app is good, but difficult to bring to life. That's why you had better start with MVP development and build an application with the most basic features. When the service has proved its worth, you can extend its functionality.
And one more important point... you understand you won’t be able to cope with the task on your own, do you? You should definitely hire experts to help you develop a social media app like Instagram!
We warn you right away: without marketing activity, you have no chance to succeed in rivaling Instagram. Therefore, the best option would be to launch an advertising campaign, and it must be initiated in advance, several months before your application appears on the market.
Your service belongs to photo-sharing apps, which means interface design plays a particularly important role. So work on the UI properly, the result won't be long in coming.
Follow several simple rules:
minimalism always stand high, so don't complicate the UI with unnecessary details;
don't neglect the latest design trends. There is nothing worse than an application, which looks outdated.
After all, you are going to develop a social media app like Instagram... and Instagram has a beautiful, clear, and intuitive UI design. You can't argue with that, can you?
How to make a social media app that rivals the best apps? One of the ways to achieve such a steep aim is to offer users a few interesting and unusual features. Get creative and try to come up with a couple of cool ideas.
For example, Snapchat captivated users with original cats and puppies masks in its time. Now other social networks also take advantage of similar funny filters, but Snapchat was among the first ones and thus won its loyal audience.
Testing is a crucial development step required to avoid potential app crashes in the future. The task of QA engineers is to check the performance of your service, its speed, and other key parameters. They must make sure your program runs as smoothly as possible.
It is also important to test the concept with a focus group. The goal is to find out if the functionality and design of the application meet user expectations.
Suppose you managed to create an Instagram clone. Now is the time to think about its official release. Above all, decide which strategy you choose:
launching your service with full functionality;
phased application deployment.
How to make a social media app like Instagram special?
What do you think makes Instagram so popular among users? Of course, its modern design and great feature set! To rise to its level, you have to take certain steps. And we're ready to give you some useful tips in this regard:
Further service improvement. To make your service one of the best social networking apps, you need to constantly work on improving and perfecting it. The MVP model is good as a start, but it's not enough to win your place in the market where Instagram and other similar photo-sharing apps operate.
Improvement can occur through more attractive design or additional features (such as appealing transitions between application screens, cool video effects, streaming capabilities, and more).
Convenient navigation. Let's clarify one point: both beautiful visualizations of UI details and well-thought-out navigation play an important role when it comes to app design. In other words, create your interface with the usability factor in mind: users shouldn't take unnecessary actions when trying to achieve a particular goal (find certain content, publish photos, etc.).
Personalization. A photo-sharing app like Instagram must take into account the interests of its users; moreover, it is desirable to find a special approach to each one. So do your best to track and analyze user behavior. The resulting data will help you deliver the most personalized content to your users.
A unique niche. We’ve mentioned several of your competitors when describing how to build an app like Instagram. And even the most superficial analysis of them indicates that they've succeeded by targeting a specific niche. Maybe you should look for your unique audience too. We offer a couple of suitable ideas:
A social network aimed at specialists in the field of plant growing and landscape design.
A platform for representatives of the fashion industry.
A service targeted at scientists (why does a man of science need a photo-sharing app like Instagram? The fact is, each study includes a huge number of illustrations, tables, and graphs).
Localization. In addition, you can localize your application and target it to a specific country (develop it based on religious, ethnic, historical, and other traditions).
Instagram monetization model
How to make a social media app profitable? How do you get it to bring you money? We’d like to consider several of the most popular ways to monetize a mobile application like Instagram.
Sponsored posts. If you actively use Instagram, you could not help but notice that among the posts of your friends there are advertising ones. Essentially, these are common posts, just dedicated to the promotion of certain services or products. Sometimes such publications are presented as a kind of carousel of images and called "Carousel Advertisements".
Advertising stories. Stories are also a great way to monetize a photo-sharing app like Instagram. Simply put, stories created by other users are interspersed with stories from sponsors.
In-app purchases. There are two main options here:
Why not take a pattern by Instagram, which has recently implemented the Checkout feature (at the beginning of 2019)? Using it, we can make purchases without extra actions, we don't even have to leave the app. And the owners of Instagram get their cut of the earnings too (commission from the stores).
It is also a good idea to sell some kind of virtual or real goods: filters, unusual effects, etc. Let your imagination run wild.
Premium features. Several years ago, in 2016, Instagram introduced the Freemium model. And now business owners can pay for a Business account and get access to cool features designed to enhance their company's revenues. And since you want to develop a social media app like Instagram, follow its example. Give users a basic free functionality and add a few premium features.
Selling data. Also, some applications don't neglect to monetize through the sale of personal user data. This is a good source of income, especially if you are dealing with a specific user group.
We've discussed the Instagram business model, now it's time to proceed to another important issue.
The cost to develop an app like Instagram
Let's finally figure out what exactly affects the cost of a photo-sharing app like Instagram.
A set of features. Of course, first of all, the project price depends on application functionality. The more features you plan to implement, the more money you'll have to invest.
Platform support. Ideally, your application should work on any device. However, with a limited budget, the best option is to analyze your target audience to find out which platform your typical user prefers (iOS or Android). Start by creating an Instagram clone app, which runs on it. In the future, you can expand and improve your program as desired.
Development technology. Coding an app like Instagram with some newfangled technology can be rather costly… but is the game worth the candle? That’s the real question! Match your financial capabilities with the technological needs of your project and make smart choices.
Development team. Surely, you'll have to hire developers to take over your project. And this is one of the key factors affecting the final cost of a photo-sharing app like Instagram. The rate of a development company is influenced by its reputation, experience in the market, and even location (developers in the United States, for example, are more expensive than in Eastern Europe).
So, suppose you've chosen a team to develop a social media app like Instagram... but what budget should you draw up? The point is, it all depends on the time the experts spend on your project and their rates per hour.
We think you've already understood that creating an Instagram clone app is a top-level task, and it requires a powerful investment of time and money. Also, you should be ready for a huge scope of upcoming work. You definitely won't be able to save on such a project. Indeed, it's the wrong moment to skimp (at least, if you want to succeed).