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Want to build a photo and video sharing social networking app like Instagram? – Read this before you develop it

Instagram (commonly known as IG or Insta) is photos and videos sharing social networking app. People can upload photos & videos and share them with their followers & friends on Instagram. They can also view, comments, and like posts shared by their friends on Instagram.

The Instagram app which started as photos and videos sharing took the social media world by storm and continues to do so. But what Instagram looks like in the past and now are completely different. Products evolve over time and so did Instagram with the app now being one of the most powerful social media apps.

Past, Present, and Future of Instagram:

– 2009: Kevin Systrom starts working on the project with the name Burbn (Instagram former name).

– 2010: Systrom closes a US $500,000 seed funding round with Baseline Ventures and Andreessen Horowitz while working on Burbn. Mike Krieger joins the Burbn project. Instagram hits 1 million users.

– 2011: Instagram had raised $7 million in Series A funding from a variety of investors, including Benchmark Capital, Jack Dorsey, Chris Sacca, and Adam D’Angelo.

– 2012: Facebook acquires Instagram for approximately US $1 billion in cash and stock.

– 2013: Instagram hits 150 million monthly active users and introduces sponsored post advertising features.

– 2014: Instagram hits 300 million monthly active users and launches a new series of editing features – allowing users to minutely customize image characteristics like brightness, contrast, highlights, and shadows.

– 2015: Instagram hits 400 million monthly active users and advertising features go global.

– 2016: Instagram announces that it has over 600 million monthly active users and they implemented many new features.

– 2017: Instagram started a short-form video sharing service like TikTok.

– 2018: Instagram announces the launch of IGTV, a long-form video platform intended to compete against YouTube.

– 2019: Instagram removes the “Following” activity tab where users could see what the other users they were following would like, comment, and other such activities.

– 2020: Instagram rolls out Reels, a short-form videos feature designed to compete against TikTok.

– Future: ?

According to (A market and consumer data research company), the number of smartphone users will reach 3.8 billion in 2021. Since every smartphone has a camera, their owners take a lot of shots and happily share them with the help of such apps.

Instagram is the current storm in the photos and videos sharing social media world. If you have any doubts about it, check out the above numbers behind this photo and video sharing social networking application.

No wonder there are many apps like Instagram. Each of them is trying to get into the limelight of user attention. Therefore, we find it useful to explain what it takes to develop photos and videos sharing social networking application like Instagram. So, where do you start? In this blog, we aim to provide a detailed explanation on how to develop a photo and video sharing social networking app like Instagram.

Step 1: Select the business model

1. Social Media/Social Networking

Social Media/Social Networking is becoming more and more popular. In 2020, over 3.6 billion people were using social media worldwide, a number projected to increase to almost 4.41 billion in 2025 as per Similar to Instagram, you can choose a social media/social networking as a business model that allows users/businesses to connect, share content, and communicate with their audience.

2. Subscription Based Content Selling

Similar to Shutterstock, you can choose subscription-based content (photos and videos) selling business model. Like Shutterstock, helps creative professionals by providing content to businesses. Content creators contribute their content to application, where end-users buy it and use it.

3. Photo and Video Editor

Similar to Adobe Photoshop & Adobe Premiere Rush, you can choose photos and video editing apps as a business model.

Step 2: Select the revenue model

1. Advertising

There is a lot of money in the business of advertising. If you want to build a photo and video sharing social networking application like Instagram, a subscription-based content selling app, or photos and videos editing app – then your revenue model should be advertising. Instagram (part of Facebook products) makes money via advertising. Instagram is driving its revenues by giving users/businesses not only an alternative to increasing awareness but also increase reach & frequency, brand awareness, conversions, increase customers, engagement, and more as per users/businesses goals. With a potential audience of more than 928 million people, Instagram advertising is a key tool for any social media marketers. Advertisements on Instagram come in the following types with location, demographics, interests, behaviors, custom audiences, lookalike audiences, and automated targeting options.

Stories Ads: Complement feed content with ads on Instagram stories.

Photo Ads: Tell a story through a clean, simple, and beautiful creative canvas.

Video Ads: Same visually immersive quality as photo ads, with the added power of sight, sound, and motion.

Carousel Ads: Another layer of depth to advertising campaigns, where people can swipe to view additional photos or videos in a single ad.

Collection Ads: Use the collection to visually inspire and help the audience discover, browse, and purchase products. Integrated story with a product or lifestyle focus, through video, images, or both.

Ads in Explore: Reach people in a discovery mindset by extending feed ads to audiences who are looking to expand their interests beyond the accounts they follow.

Shopping Ads: Way to reach people who love shopping.

Step 3: Latest market trends

1. Short-Form Videos

TikTok is the destination for short-form videos. Whether you are a sports admirer or just looking for a laugh – there is something for everyone on TikTok. Similar to TikTok, Instagram introduced Reels and YouTube introduced Shorts. All you have to do is watch short-form videos, engage with what you like, skip what you don’t, and you will find endless short-form videos that feel personalized just for you.

2. Long-Form Videos

Instagram IGTV, Facebook, and YouTube are the destination for long-form videos. All you have to do is watch unlimited long-form videos, like or dislike, share, and more.

3. Smart Shopping

Like Facebook and Instagram Shopping, allow people to shop from brands & creators.

4. Influencer Marketing

Think “influencers” and your mind may immediately go to Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, TikTok. Influencer marketing has become a huge and essential part of marketing. It’s difficult to find brands that aren’t using it. It’s a powerful marketing trend that allows brands to reach their targeted audience.

Step 4: Select the features

The following are the detailed features of photos and videos sharing social media application like Instagram.

Sign-Up & Profile Management: Sign-up is the first interaction between the users and the app. Users need to register and create their profile on the app by entering needed details such as name, email address, phone numbers, etc. You can add an option for registering via social networks, OTP, and more.

Post/Story Creation: It allows users to create content on a platform. The photos and videos sharing social networking app like Instagram have direct access to smartphone cameras that enable users to click photos & videos with editing functionality in the app.

Likes, Share & Comment Posts/Stories: Engagement is the key feature to the success of an app. If you want your users to spend more time and return frequently to your app, let them engage with content by enabling them to like, share, and comment on each other’s posts.

In-App Notifications: The in-app notification gives detailed information about other user’s activities.

Search: App is incomplete without a smart search. Let users find what they need just by hitting a search in the app.

Chat: The chat feature is important if your app aims to be a social networking platform. This feature helps the users to stay connected with each other.

Push Notifications: This feature is the main engagement that helps companies to keep users on their platforms. This helps them drive people back and keep them using their app. Send a push notification to the users for any updates that they would be interested in.

Location: The location will help to extend the functionality of the app and make it more interesting. Users love to share locations where photos and videos are taken.

Reels (Short-Form Videos): Create and watch short-form videos on the app. Like, share, and comment on it.

IGTV (Long-Form Videos): Create and watch long-form videos on the app. Like, share, and comment on it.

Shopping: Discover and buy eCommerce products from the brands and creators.

Tagging and Mentions: Users will get a notification in their Activity feed if someone tag/mention it in the post.

Hashtags: Users can add hashtags in the caption or comments on the posts.

Additional Features: Filters, Story Highlights, Image Editing, Video Editing, Live Video, Stickers, Advertising, Privacy, Help, Other Settings, and more.

Step 5: Select technology stack

The tech stack would depend on the photos and videos sharing social networking app business model, required features by the app, mobile app development approaches, and more.

Tech Stack:

– Mobile App Screen Design Tool: Photoshop, Illustrator, and more

– Programming Language for Android: Kotlin, Java, and more

– Programming Language for iOS: Swift, Objective-C, and more

– IDE for Android: Android Studio and more

– IDE for iOS: Xcode and more

– Framework: React Native, Flutter, Xamarin, Adobe PhoneGap, Ionic, and more

– Backend Development: PHP, Java, and more

– Database: MySQL, MongoDB, and more

– Storage: Amazon AWS, Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, and more

– Analytics: FireBase, Google Analytics, and more

Time and Cost to develop an app like Instagram

The time and cost of a photo and video sharing social network app like Instagram depend on various factors such as the number of platforms, application development approaches, needed user experience, features list, mobile app trends, etc. Additional features can cost more. The application development cost also depends on the app development company and the location where the app is being developed.

Approximate Time: Initial technical documentation and designing process takes 40 hours. Creating a UI/UX design is around 120 hours. Building the backend of the app will be 140 hours. Testing and bug fixing can require almost 80 hours. Deployment and releasing require 48 hours. This means the total hours required is 428 for the app development.

Approximate Cost: App development companies charge on a per hour basis, and the charges may vary based on location. The USA based app developers hourly charges are between $100 to $150. While European app developer’s hourly charges are between $70 to $150. The India based app developers hourly charges are between $20 to $70. To get app development cost, you need to apply this formula (Total Hours Required for the Application Development * Application Developers Hourly Cost = Total Application Development Cost). As per the above time, let’s calculate the cost using this formula (428 Hours * $45/Per Hour = $19,260).


We hope that after reading this blog you are clear about how to build a photo and video sharing social networking app like Instagram. For successful app development like Instagram, you need a trusted technology partner who has expertise in it.

Do you want to develop a photo and video sharing social networking app like Instagram in Native, Cross-Platform, Hybrid, PWA, or with other approaches? Do you want to build a photos and videos sharing social media application like Instagram for Android, iOS, iPhone, iPad? – Talk to a Mobile App Development Company and understand how we will add value to your photo and video sharing social networking app in terms of technical expertise and business knowledge. Choose an experienced technology partner, like us, who can not only help you understand the best approach for your photos and videos sharing application but also deliver a high-quality photo and video sharing app within the budget and time. Have a photo and video sharing social networking startup in mind? – Contact Us!