The social network based on photos has triggered such a strong echo, that it stealthily went from being an application people use from time to time, to one that is now used daily. With myself being a regular Instagram user (not to say frequently), I now understand something about this photo sharing application: It’s becoming Facebook’s best engagement asset.

Facebook acquired Instagram as a plan to compete head to head against Snapchat. Instagram is now substantially changing the daily experience of using their application with a speed that would ordinarily feel daring for a network of its size. It also has become one of the top social networks to make a business out of it. 

Improving Instagram

Instagram systematically analyzed all of the bottlenecks of its service and tried to eliminate them. Then, they looked for potential opportunities to better serve their users. They also tried to implement them as soon as possible. This sounds trivial, but social networks are sometimes held hostage by their most loyal users, who tend to hate change (like Twitter). Facebook resisted that trend and as it grew up, it constantly adapted functions that would cater to more people.

One of these “bottlenecks” linked with adaptation has to do with technical fixes. More than 80 percent of their users currently live outside the United States. The service is growing especially fast in parts of Asia and South America, marked by low-power Android phones and slow cellular networks.

Much of Instagram’s engineering efforts, therefore, are dedicated to making its Android application work better outside of the United States. For example, after they launched Stories, a month was spent making speed improvements for international markets.

Why Instagram over Snapchat?

It tends to encourage large, public networks where people maintain a more polished profile. Snapchat fosters a smaller, more intimate network. The context of these two applications effectively changes the nature of the format. In Instagram, stories feel different to Snapchat stories. There are different people in both networks using it for different purposes.

The Instagram version often offers a superior experience. I know more people there, and it’s very likely that you too.