The Instagram phenomenon affects numerous industries and businesses, sales, marketing, and advertising spheres. It drives the weighty part of XXI century culture, sets trends, and makes us redesign the entire concept of aesthetics.
At the same time, Instagram is a real example of how successful, high-powered, impactful, viral photo-sharing app can be.
After a decade of successful digital market expansion, Instagram amazes with usage statistics:
- 1+ billion of active users;
- 50+ billion of shared photos;
- 500+ million of daily active Stories users;
- 25+ million business profiles.
It attracts both random users posting cats or banana bread pictures and huge well-known brands that actively advertise and sell on Instagram.
Instagram influencers or profiles with 100K – 1M subscribers can make up to $10,000 per post. And Instagram gets its share out of it.
App's revenue grows annually. Advertising is the key to Instagram monetization. Last year, the platform generated $20 billion on ads.
COVID-19 and global isolation 2020 facilitated its growth: the increase in usage was reported.
But things are not so good on this photo-sharing promised land:
- Instagram tech flaws: users' reviews say that the app shuts down accounts for no reason, fails to detect the exact location, deletes all direct messages, etc. Although its rating is high, it doesn't provide impeccable experience to all users.
- Instagram affects mental health: FOMO, anxiety, low self-esteem, and many, many other similar reasons make users abandon their Instagram accounts forever;
- Instagram copyright issues: photographers and content creators suffer from Instagram's inability to protect their rights. Recently, more accounts went private as users try to protect their photos from being stolen or sold.
With all its strength, Instagram still has drawbacks. Failing to satisfy users' wishes and needs properly, Instagram leaves space for alternative apps.
We've prepared an overview of top apps similar to Instagram for your inspiration. Get acquainted with amazing popular products, find out how they work and how they make revenue, and come up with an idea to launch your own, a better and more user-oriented app like to Instagram.
Eight photo-sharing apps like Instagram: visit, analyze, and launch a better one
These apps, each powered with specific features, are worth your attention if you plan to build an astounding alternative to Instagram.
- How many people use it? 1+ billion
- Where is it popular? In Canada, the United Kingdom, Germany
- What is the monetization model? "…no monetization plans (for Google Photos) at this time."
- How much it's worth? Part of Google; in May 2020, Google is worth 320 billion.
Google Photos is the absolute winner among apps like Instagram in terms of a number of users. It's a component of Google's ecosystem, so the numbers couldn't be lower. Although users don't have to pay for the Google Photos app, there's a specific monetization method behind it. With the help of powerful Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning technologies, the system analyzes your photos, discovers places you visit, and the products you prefer, etc. Based on that data, it provides you with recommendations, ads, marketing materials, and so on.
First and foremost, Google Photos is the storage of visual content, including photos, videos, GIFs, presentations, etc. Users can create private collections and grant access to particular people either via a link or sending a direct invitation to join an album to the user's email. Photo-sharing features are present. However, the app's principal goal is storing your files.
The above-mentioned AI algorithms help to sort users' photos automatically. Check your account: albums like Places, Things, Nature, Sunsets, Portraits, etc. are formed automatically. Besides, Google Assistant can apply filters to your photos, turn photos to gifs, edit videos, and so much more.
Thinking how to design a simple app similar to Instagram powered with Artificial Intelligence and other cutting-edge technologies, check this excellent Google product.
- How many people use it? 335+ million
- Where is it popular? In the United States, Brazil, India
- What is the monetization model? Advertising and promoted pins
- How much it's worth? $1.5 billion
This app is an infinite board of ideas. A user simply logs in, subscribes to preferred boards, and the scrolling journey begins. Terabytes of content, fantastic photos, amusing illustrations, recipes, look books, and nature masterpieces – users share whatever they want on this massive social photo-sharing app. Founded just a few months before Instagram, Pinterest has chosen its own path and now serves as the source of inspiration for Instagram influencers and millions of users worldwide.
Pinterest focuses on advertising as a critical source of its income. 77% of users regularly discover new brands when browsing Pinterest. This fact creates a wide field of opportunities for businesses.
"Our advertising products help businesses reach Pinners across their decision-making journey," says the company.
Pinterest is an example of how to help a business to draw a detailed picture of a buyer persona. So if you plan to utilize marketing and advertising principles in your app, take a look at how Pinterest deals with it.
- How many people use it? 229+ million
- Where is it popular? In the United States, France, India
- What is the monetization model? Advertising, Premium Accounts, Snap Store
- How much it's worth? $25+ billion
Although it may seem like Instagram and Snapchat differ significantly, they have so much in common! The Story feature, a publication that disappears 24 hours after posting, belongs originally to Snapchat. Later, Team Instagram adopted it, too. As the statistic shows, Stories brought terrific benefits to Instagram. With this feature, Instagram outsailed Snapchat in just a few months.
There is something similar in the companies' past as well. After the Instagram acquisition, Facebook offered $3 billion to Snapchat. However, Snapchat rejected the offer and continued to work on its success. And these days, Snapchat belongs to the top 5 apps of the decade and brings its founders millions of dollars of net income annually.
Started from a simple app's prototype, now, Snapchat amazes with lenses, geofilters, discoveries, integration with Shazam, etc. Incorporating the latest development trends, catering to the needs of its users, Snapchat build a social photo-sharing online empire.
The tendency shows that the app will win from global lockdown 2020. In March 2020, communication between Snapchat users increased by 30%.
- How many people use it? 100+ million
- Where is it popular? In the United States, Canada, Norway
- What is the monetization model? Subscription, Paid Filters
- How much it's worth? $550 million
"A filter on Instagram was like if Twitter had a button to make you more clever," says Sarah Frier, author of "No Filter: The Inside Story of How Instagram Transformed Business, Celebrity and Our Culture."
However, there are social media apps like Instagram that have taken filtering, as well as photo and video editing features, to a higher level. VSCO is one of them.
Founders started with bootstrapping and later, attracted $40 million of investments. App's great potential flew in the air since 2013, when the app has gathered its first users. And that was exactly the year when VSCO founders rejected an offer to join Instagram.
Founders had a defined mission, and as we can see now, their efforts were successful. More than 4 million people pay for an opportunity to edit and improve their photos using VSCO filters. The app offers convenient functionality for creative individuals, allows sharing visual content, and discover inspiring images. Advanced video editing tools and valuable content for VSCO members are available, too. No follower counts, no annoying ads – just a comfortable space for photo editing and sharing.
- How many people use it? 45+ million
- Where is it popular? In the United States, Brazil, United Kingdom
- What is the monetization model? Advertising, subscription.
- How much it's worth? $7 billion
"A home for your inspiration." Such a great quote to describe the app's key goal! Performing well on both web and mobile, it deserves every single "heart" users give to it.
The platform allows sharing photos, videos, and GIFs. As well as in the case with Instagram, users can augment visual content with text. The noticeable difference is that WeHeartIt focuses on motivation and positive thoughts only. Most of the pieces of content posted here calm down, inspire, and take the mind somewhere to a better place. There's no Comment feature, so users are safe from offensive disputes using this app like Instagram.
- How many people use it? 15+ million
- Where is it popular? In the United States, China, Germany
- What is the monetization model? Subscription, transaction fee, advertising.
- How much it's worth? $76+ million
500px app with its beautiful, high-quality, breath-taking photos is totally worth the attention. And if you would like to target photographers' community with your brand-new product, check 500px.
The website started its story from being just a blog on LiveJournal in 2003. In 2009, the founders began to work on an independent website. In 2012, it turned to one of the best blogs, according to Time.
Now, it is one of the best photo-sharing apps like Instagram. A platform powered with smart algorithms promotes high-quality content even if an author doesn't have many followers. The app allows sharing great pieces of visual content, as well as testing photographers' works and making money through licensing or cooperation with brands.
Social media app like Instagram doesn't turn to a unicorn the very day its launched. It takes time to grow and improve. Take a look at software products that haven't reached the 1 million users goal but are definitely on their way.
- How many people use it? 500,000+
- Where is it popular? In the United States, France, United Kingdom
- What is the monetization model? N/A
- How much it's worth? N/A
No public profiles, no personal memories shared with strangers. PhotoCircle belongs to a different type of apps like Instagram: it focuses on privacy.
You can access it on Android and iOS, web, and desktop. You can add to your photo album as many high-resolution photos as you want to. You can invite as many relatives and friends, colleagues, and teammates as you wish. Only the members of a specific album can view photos. Comments are available so you can instantly share your impressions with the closest ones. Besides, users can upload short (up to 10 seconds) videos to their albums.
No funny filters, no hypothetic plastic surgeries on selfies – just happy moments shared with the closest people.
- How many people use it? 180,000+
- Where is it popular? United States, Canada, United Kingdom
- What is the monetization model? Subscription
- How much it's worth? N/A
Another astounding example of apps similar to Instagram is exposure. Hidden in Internet jungles, this gem provides extensive opportunities for storytelling. Amplified with words, descriptions, impressions, stories, users' photos demonstrate a new level of charm and delight. And it works well for user acquisition!
Here, creators can upload photos, resize and crop them, embed content from social media, format text, and grow an audience. Intuitive UX, along with minimalistic UI, create a pleasant atmosphere for both readers and publishers.
Photo-sharing apps like Instagram: what's next?
Instagram occupies the leading position in an online photo-sharing sphere. But at the same time, there are myriads of amazing apps like Instagram that offer more features, more privacy, more resources for creativity:
- Google Photos is a huge visual content storage where you can share photos with your friends through links or invitations;
- Pinterest takes you to a never-ending flow of photos, designs, images for inspiration and appealing ads;
- Snapchat changed the market with disappearing photos and tons of cutting-edge user-oriented features;
- VSCO makes your photos more attractive, more engaging, more "sharable";
- WeHeartIt emphasizes positive thinking and supports emotional well-being sharing outstanding visual content;
- 500px helps photographers to develop their skills and brands;
- PhotoCircle allows creating closed communities and sharing photos with the closest people only;
- Exposure combines visual content and storytelling.
Some of them are worth millions of dollars, and others follow their business plans to reach the initial goals. The common thing is that all of them have started from a simple MVP that proved the app's potential and helped to begin collecting the investments. All popular social media apps like Instagram passed this stage before users started talking about it. And if you have a great idea of a social media app like Instagram, launch an MVP and test the concept first.