How to Make an App Like Instagram and Get Users Talking About It

Yesha Bhatt

By : Yesha Bhatt

How to Make an App Like Instagram and Get Users Talking About It1

Inspired by the digital detox challenge, I recently uninstalled my Instagram account for a week. However, every time a post-worthy thing happened, my hand would automatically reach for my phone to ‘Instagram’ the moment. The fact that I just said things can be ‘post worthy’ is an indication of how much Instagram has influenced our lives.

Today all of us like this idea of sharing everything we love, on social media. The reason can be XYZ, but there is something that propels us to document our lives. And that’s why applications like Instagram have become what they are today.

Do you know the words ‘Instagram’ and ‘Instagrammable’ are officially a part of the dictionary? Merriam Webster quotes – ‘it was “unsurprising” that words from digital technology were becoming a bigger part of the dictionary, thanks to the impact tech has on our lives.’

The success of Instagram attracts many entrepreneurs to make an app like Instagram. However the real question is that is it really worth the effort to make another app like Instagram? How can you make a difference in people’s lives? Let’s understand how Instagram got to experience the success, and how to develop an app like instagram for your business.

Here’s an outline of topics that the guide covers:

Why Instagram is a Big Hit

Instagram – the portmanteau of “Instant camera” and “telegram” disrupted the way we share, and consume content. Started with a small idea of sharing pictures, today 63% of adults visit Instagram daily in the US and 42% of the users open it several times a day to see what’s new on their Insta feed throughout the day.

The initial idea was to make a check-in app but then the founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger found that idea quite similar to what Facebook and Foursquare, were already providing.

To bring the unique factor, they focused on a simple concept of photo-sharing which became the most popular social media app today. We all love visuals, and that’s what Instagram brought on the table for their users. It soon started to gain more popularity than Facebook and Snapchat.

Snapchat was famous for its image sharing and story feature, which was once not offered by any other app. Soon Instagram introduced the story feature, and became a one-stop platform where people could use social media, upload stories, send messages, and earn money too!

How to Make an App Like Instagram

The concept of photo-editing or photo-sharing remains the same in any app. For instance, Snapchat, Vine, Snipe, Flickr, etc., these apps take pictures or videos, offer editing capabilities, and allow the user to share. But what varies is the core functionality. You need to find that uniqueness and then work on it. It makes no sense simply copying an idea. When developing a new app, using a video downloader can also help in researching and analyzing the features of competing apps in order to find unique and innovative ways to stand out in the market.

Remember, Instagram is going to be everyone’s first choice. So, you ought to have something that would make a user want to install your app. For instance, something novel like Kicksend. It’s a mobile-first photo printing app. The app allows users to choose photos from their gallery, create an album, give it a title and share it with other friends. If the user wants to share an album with a friend who is not a Kicksend user, they can send a message including previews of the image to the recipient’s email address.

Let’s now see step-by-step how to create an app like Instagram:

Understand the Product

It’s a good thing to prioritize the objectives of your Instagram like app development. Why do you want to create an Instagram app? In addition to photo-editing, Instagram allows users to send direct messages and even shop for products within the app.

  • Instagram as a Photo-editing AppAs a photo editing tool, Instagram is good for casual users and businesses who want to market products. The app has filters, geotags, and other editing capabilities like crop, adjust, manage brightness, etc., that everybody loves.
  • Instagram as an E-commerce PlatformSocial Commerce is changing the future of e-commerce. There are hundreds of brands leveraging the platform to increase their reach and sell products. It’s a platform where everyone benefits. Businesses can showcase their products, and Instagram earns a commission from transactions that occur via the platform. You can also introduce ads and in-app purchases to make revenue out of it.
  • Instagram as a MessengerDirect Message is an integral part of every social networking platform. It allows users to share content and connect with others. The app also has additional capabilities of group messaging and group video call.

Read Also: How to Start a Fashion Jewelry Business on Instagram?

Building an MVP for a Core Set of Users

There are some useful lessons that Instagram teaches startups. It is to do just ONE thing. The co-founder of Instagram, Kevin Systrom, says:

“Focusing on one thing and doing it really, really well can get you very far.”

Most businesses, when they make an app, want to provide users with every feature under the sun. Now, in case some features do not provide any value to the end-user, you will face a major loss of both money and time.

At this stage, you have a clear idea about your business and target user. It’s time to discern what features to include. Tell me, can you describe what you want your app, such as Instagram, to do in a single sentence?

For instance, ‘I want my app to allow users to edit a photo, add music to it, and share it in a group chat.’

Here, we can see three core features – editing capabilities, in-built music library, and messaging feature. The idea is to build a basic model with core functionalities, satisfy early adopters, and update based on the feedback. That’s what an MVP (Minimum Viable Product) is.

By the way, the secret behind Instagram’s success is the MVP approach. Instagram, formerly known as Burbn, was a location-based app. It allowed users to check-in. Barring the photo-sharing feature, some of the features were not that popular. Therefore, the company focused entirely on the editing part, added more filters, removed unnecessary clutter, and ta-da!

Today, the app enjoys 500+ million daily active users. Stories, Reels, IGTV are additional features that the company later added.

The key is to start small, make improvements, and then go big. So, how do you do this?

There’s something called a prioritization metric where you break down the features into (a) the essential requirements for the user and (b) potential features you will add later.

We’d like to help you see how a basic model for an app like Instagram looks that is not just another Instagram – but more! Let us help you with Instagram app development step by step.

Essential Features to Create an App Like Instagram

Like we discussed before, you need to prioritize the features for a core set of users. Later as you get users to download your app, you will know what features work well and what you do not need. As your user base grows, you can add some advanced features to add more value.

1. Authorization & Profile

This is the first step to make a social media app like Instagram. Security encryptions are some of the most crucial aspects of the success of the app. You would want to protect your user’s privacy and issues related to identity theft. When working on the Sign-up screen, make sure the design is perfect with the right number of elements; nothing less, nothing more.

The user can set up an account using an email address, a password, and a user name. The phone number is not required unless it’s a business profile.

Authorization & Profile


After logging in, the user will create a profile on the app. You do not want to make this screen too complicated for the user to interact with. Therefore, be careful with the information you collect. This is no typical form filling. Collect relevant data that will help you in the future to provide customized experiences.

2. Photo Uploading & Editing

Photo Uploading & Editing

An app like Instagram needs to access the phone camera and gallery where the user can upload images or videos. You even need to introduce photo editing features. This includes basic features like crop, rotate, brightness, saturation, etc. And advanced filters like AR face detection, personalized text, stickers, etc.

When you build an app like Instagram, AI becomes a necessity. As more users edit, upload pictures and interact with others, you will have an enormous amount of data. To get business insights, you need to analyze this data using AI algorithms. Here are some ways you can use AI:

  • Enable users to discover photos for hashtags or activity
  • Send users targeted ads based on what they like and who they follow
  • Provide a more personalized feed

3. Stories & Image Sharing

Instagram Stories are the most used sharing method on Instagram. With this feature, the user can post videos and pictures that vanish after 24 hours. Users can even add text, emojis, stickers, GIFs, music, and more to their stories Make use of vibrant emojis to express yourself even more.

If you want to make an app like Instagram that works as a networking tool, you need to include messaging and group chats. Using instant messaging or direct messages, users can directly share posts, short-form video content like stories, text messages, and more with their friends.

Stories & Image Sharing

4. Settings


Settings provide your customers with the basic options like profile management, deleting or adding an account, managing activity log, privacy, etc. They can edit their profile, make privacy changes in their account, change the theme of their application, i.e., Dark, Light, and System Default, set their language preferences, etc.

All these features are for your end customers. Similarly, you can provide slightly different features for business pages or content creators, including all these features. Let’s see them:

  • Buy/SellBusiness pages or content creators can sell products using different advertising strategies, sponsor their products, have the “Buy Now” option, etc. all these things will help them grow their business from your platform.
  • InsightsInsights is an analytics tool that provides business owners data on follower demographic, and the total view/reach of the post. This helps them understand how their content is performing and what measures they can take to improve their posts.
  • PromotionsBusinesses can promote their posts for better reach and grow their online presence. This will help them to increase their followers and create better content.

Some additional features to consider when you create an app like Instagram:

  • Shoppable posts
  • Live streaming
  • Long Form Videos
  • Social Sharing
  • Invite Friends
  • Location Integration
  • User Activity Log

How to Develop an App Like Instagram

Unique user experience lies at the center of an app like Instagram. Uploading pictures, trying out new filters, checking stories, shopping for products – all these need to have great UX. Here are a few things that will help you understand what it looks like to create an app like Instagram:

  • Users like organized and clean content. Therefore, it’s necessary to put all the visual elements in the right hierarchical order. By this, I mean arranging elements as per the order of importance. Instagram, for example, has the stories at the top, the user profile at the extreme right, and feed in the center. This makes it easy for the user to access the app content, and more importantly, it assigns importance to each feature accordingly.
  • Fonts and layout should be attractive, but at the same time, they shouldn’t hamper the user experience. The icons on Instagram consume less space and offer excellent clarity. Make sure your app, like Instagram, provides such easy access to buttons, menus, and other elements.

Besides the intuitive frontend of Instagram, its super smooth backend also contributes to the elevating customer experience. Therefore, it is as important to develop an accurate, fast, and responsive backend as it is crucial to design an engaging frontend.

The social media giant Instagram uses Python for its backend operations as it uses Django for backend development.

Do you want to leverage the advanced functionalities of Python too? We can help you with that as our team will design and develop a feature-rich app like Instagram. If you have some unique ideas to share and features to add, we can customize the product as per your needs for Instagram app development.

When you hire Python developers from BiztechCS, you get complete guidance in making a fully functional product like Instagram.

Choose a Monetization Model

Let’s be honest here. ROI will take some time. Instagram too took years to reach $20 billion in ad revenue in 2019. Here’s how the monetization strategy for an app like Instagram looks:

  • AdvertisementsBased on search history and the explore section on the app, users get targeted advertisements. You can allow businesses to give their ads via posts, short videos, disappearing stories, etc. There are three ways to earn revenue using this approach:
    • Cost per Thousand Impressions (CPM) – advertisers pay for the number of times an ad appears regardless of whether the user clicks it or not.
    • Cost per Click (CPC) – advertisers pay when a user clicks the ad, not each time an ad appears.
    • Cost per Action (CPA) – here you charge the advertiser every time the user performs a specific action such as a purchase, registration, etc.
  • In-app PurchasesIn-app purchases mean users pay to buy content, services, or additional features while using the application. For example, you can offer customers additional filters using in-app purchases. Ad removal is also another way to monetize your app. Users who wish to use the app without any ad can sign up for a premium version of your app.
  • CommissionsIf you plan to build an app like Instagram that works as an eCommerce platform, this approach is for you. Every time a user purchases a product on your app, you earn a commission.

There is no clear monetization model that fits an app like Instagram. How much you earn depends a lot on how you get users to interact with your app. The average session length on social networking/photo-sharing apps is of 177 seconds (a little under 3 minutes). You need to have a clear strategy on how to increase engagement.

Read Also: How to Make an App Like Snapchat?

How to Get People to Use an App Like Instagram

Building a simple app with engaging features is not enough. You must make people start talking about your app. Here are some ways

  • Create a Landing Page This page is where your potential users will land to know more about it. A landing page typically includes the app’s information, features, and value propositions. Make sure you have a clear call to action, for instance, the link to where they can download the app from.
  • Social Media Marketing If you already have a dedicated account/page of your business, start sharing more about your app. If you do not have one, first create a dedicated account for your app. Also, keep in mind that you do not have to pitch your product directly. Using videos, pictures, memes, etc., capture the attention of the audience. Once they find your product interesting, they are likely to dig for more information.
  • Referral Program This is for those early users of your app. You can reward users for inviting their friends to download the app. Rewards could include free filters, access to paid features for free for a stipulated period, etc.

These were a few ways to get people to know and download your app. But that’s not it. You have to get users to interact with your app. Push notifications are a good way to increase user retention. Let’s say a user downloaded the app, but there’s no significant activity they do on the app. You can send them customized notifications about the latest feature in the app.

FOMO is a real phenomenon that is becoming common on the Internet. Making the user think that they are missing out on some exciting updates that others are enjoying is likely to get them to interact.

Once you launch the app, you even need to take care of updating it as per the requirement. This can be a long process, but not when you have a dedicated team working for you. At Biztech, we take complete responsibility for Instagram like app development projects that we begin. Our job is to not only help you develop your product, but we can help in maintaining it post-launch. From time to time, we will keep you updated about new updates, features, or bug fixes. You can rely on us to guide you in promoting your app.

Estimated Cost for Making an App Like Instagram

The following elements will help you understand the cost of building an app like Instagram.

  • Native v/s HybridThe type of app you choose to build influences the cost of your app. You can build a native application for each operating system. The cost is proportional to the number of platforms you want to target. The more the number of platforms, the higher the price. On the other hand, a cross-platform or a hybrid app will significantly reduce the cost because you are building one application for all the platforms.
  • iOS v/s AndroidA common misconception about app development is that the cost to develop an Android app is less than the cost to develop an iOS app. But the thing is that it’s almost the same. The cost of creating an app like Instagram depends upon the time taken to develop the features for each platform.

For your better understanding, we created this chart and included the necessary information. Native: Android + API takes 1,487 hours while Native: iOS + API takes 1,493 hours approximately. If you want to get it custom-made, we can provide you with a detailed quote based on your requirements.

Features API Native: Android (in Hrs) Native: iOS (in Hrs)
Module Name Design Development QA/UAT/PM Design Development QA/UAT/PM
Sign in via, email, phone, Signout 12 8 18 13 12 18 15
Sign in and out by Social Media (FB, Twitter) 12 8 16 12 8 16 12
Personal Profile with Edit and User Profile view 48 16 48 32 12 48 30
Messeging real time with photo and video 60 24 72 48 24 72 48
Push Notification and notification hub 16 12 24 18 12 24 18
Settings with Push notification and privacy 20 8 16 12 8 20 14
Photo and video upload 16 4 12 8 4 12 8
Tags and comment 10 4 16 10 4 16 10
Feed Details and Post details 32 16 48 32 16 48 32
Photo editing capabilities using filter and crop, rotate 48 24 160 92 24 160 92
Connect with other social media for direct share 8 8 16 12 8 16 12
Sharing on social media for photo and feed 8 4 8 6 4 8 6
Geolocation tagging and time and date setup 24 16 48 32 16 48 32
Search people, tag, location and other param 24 12 36 24 12 36 24
Design and icon setup for app 0 16 48 32 16 48 32
338 180 586 383 180 590 385
Total Native: Android + API 1487 Native: iOS + API 1493


So, What’s Your Plan?

The success story of Instagram is inspiring businesses to explore opportunities in the market. However, copying the platform is never going to work. Instagram has a dedicated user base who will not ‘replace’ the app. But since both photo sharing and networking is going to stay here, there is enough room for newcomers. The way the app works remains the same. What differs is what new element you are bringing to the table.

In the process of doing so, everything matters, from visual elements to advanced filters. If you deliver a quality product, users will find you.

We can help you throughout your journey from ideation to developing an app like instagram and getting the first user. Let’s discuss your project idea!

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