Vilmate Blog

How to create a social media application like Instagram


If you wonder how to make a social media app like Instagram so that it could enable users to freely produce, disseminate and consume content delivered as a mixture of text, sound, videos, and pictures at any time of the day or night, we have an answer for you. Due to the recent phenomenal growth of mobile technology, users do not need to waste their time turning on their laptops. All they have to do is unlock their smartphones with Internet access and open a social media app. Instagram as a smartphone application introduced a new mode of instantaneous visual communication on October 5, 2010. Since then, it has become a significant social networking service and marked the rise of popular photography.

How Instagram started

Well, what can we say about Instagram leaving alone the subjective impressions? The first version of the app was launched free in the App Store. In April 2012, Instagram welcomed Android users to its community. In November 2012, the users got a sense of the new web experience. Two years after the launch of the application, the social app agreed to be acquired by Facebook. It was a non-survival, but it did not indicate failure. Indeed, exiting at a good price is often viewed as the main objective of many startups. Instagram is a good example of non-survival success. Thus, Facebook acquired an 18-month-old company with 13 employees for roughly $1 billion in April 2012.

What are the key functional characteristics of Instagram?

When you intend to make a social media app, it is a good idea to do some research to evaluate your competition. These findings can become the guidelines for building your own product. Therefore, we suggest that determining the main features of Instagram, which is the pioneer in the field under discussion, should be the first step for you to take. These features are:

  • authorization
  • editing profile
  • adding posts, description, and geolocation
  • adding multiple photo & video posts
  • saving posts
  • image customization
  • subscribing/ liking/ commenting
  • linking other social media accounts
  • messaging
  • search
  • Instagram Stories
  • Instagram Live
  • paid partnership tool
  • polls

How does Instagram work?

Instagram is a user-friendly application, it is easy to use and its interface is visually appealing and intuitive. Moreover, the app wants to be liked and appreciated. For this purpose, the Instagram algorithm is counted for making you feel delighted at the content the app offers you. However, this algorithm has been changed recently and works in the following way now:

1. You upload a post, and it is shown to a small percentage (≈10%) of your subscribers.

2. The level of engagement is being measured (likes, comments, direct shares, and saves.)

3. The data received is being compared to your previous posts.

4. If the level of engagement is high enough, Instagram will show the post to the remaining percentage; if it is not, fewer people will see your post and discover your page.

How is Instagram monetized?

Taking advantage of the features Instagram has to offer, you are not only expressing your social and personal identity, but also stand a chance of monetizing your content. Your account can represent you either as a business owner or as a content creator. Thus, businesses should adopt Instagram as an advertising platform where they can:

    • link to the homepage in their profiles
    • use targeted ads as a handy way to reach the target market
    • get people engaged in creating unique hashtags and discount codes
    • keep an eye on the industry and look for business partnership

The most lucrative source of income for content creators — i.e. bloggers, podcasters and video creators — is advertising, which implies tagging the featured third-party product, brand or business partner. Besides, they can sell their own goods and services, and receive donations.

How much does it cost to develop a social media app?

Although most social networking services started with websites, people are apt to use their smartphones for keeping in touch now. The core task of every social network, social media like Instagram inclusively, is connecting people; Android phones and Apple’s iPhones do the job of a mediator perfectly well. These personal communication devices with popular social media apps like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snapchat, and LinkedIn on them have become a part of our daily routine. Thus, no wonder that emerging startups do their best ambitiously advancing their ideas in this area. If you happen to be the one who plans to create a social media app then you should be aware of the estimated expenses you will incur.

To begin with, there is no fixed price for building another app like Instagram. It all depends on who you hire to work with, variety and complexity of implemented functionality, and the design of your product. However, it is important that you keep in mind the following:

    • Cross-platform apps are bound to be cheaper. Nevertheless, using such apps is less convenient, and the range of features is then restricted. Besides, it depends on what you are aiming at, for such apps also have their disadvantages.
    • Load balancing is an important backend solution. Choosing a proper load balancer, you can get the incoming traffic distributed, capacity optimized and the costs reduced.
    • The more features you need, the more it will cost you to make an app. In order to spend less, focus on the main features and use a minimum viable product approach (MVP) to test your product first.

According to The Next Web, that is how much it will cost to build the next great social media app like:

    • Twitter: $50,000 to $250,000
    • Instagram: $100,000 to $300,000
    • Facebook: $500,000
    • Pinterest: $120,000
    • Tumblr: $1.65 million

How to make a social media application like Instagram

As an application for sharing photos, an Instagram-like app is more complicated to build than any other type of a social media app. Let’s find out what key features you should take into account when developing an MVP of an Instagram clone.

1. Authorization. Thereby, users can create new accounts or sign in using credentials of the existing social media accounts.

2. Editing profile: adding, removing or changing personal data.

3. Uploading pictures and videos. This is where you should think over how to handle heavy backend image loads. Extra options such as tagging and commenting are to be taken into consideration at this stage too.

4. Image customization. The easiest way is to copy a ready source code into the project to get standard filters for users to apply.

5. Adjusting settings (language settings, enabling push notifications, etc.)

6. Messaging. Not to get the server overloaded, you had better set restricted access periods to it.

7. Geolocation features, which are implemented via location and maps services.

8. Search.

Our team emphasized geolocation features when creating a social media app for the Swedish mobile market. This application, designed for iOS, is intended to bring people together; thus, they could find one another scrolling through the feed and using GPS location data.


Now that we have found out what Instagram is and what its main features are, we have also gained a clearer understanding of what efforts it might take to create an app like Instagram. Nonetheless, such an idea is doomed to failure if it lacks innovation and attractiveness for the target audience. So, learn from the pioneers of the industry and be creative!

social media apps development

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