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Do you remember Instagram before influencers? I’m struggling to recall a time before everything in my feed was the perfect embodiment of what, as a rational people, we know must have taken hours of conceptualising and preparation, before we see the “ad hoc” end product. But it wasn’t always this way! Vice recently published a deep delve into the evolution of everyone’s favourite platform – comparing the then and the now.

Speaking to some of the original “influencers”, they share interesting insights, as well as detailing the rapid growth of users – going from 90 million users in 2016, to 1 billion today!

‘Where IG was once a bunch of former Tumblr users, digital artists and photographers, it’s now just… everyone. It’s where your aunt posts dinner pics from #datenight.’ It’s awesome that there was a time when Instagram provided a creative, safe space to share varying degrees of artwork-in-progress. And whilst it’s a shame many people feel it no longer serves this purpose – the rapid growth in popularity and users presents a continuously evolving set of commercial opportunities.

The platform has changed from a DIY, creative space, to an incredibly lucrative and influential marketplace, with an active and diverse audience. This is great for brands and agencies, with a space where we can reach consumers directly. However, this also means there is a lot of competition and with an increasingly savvy, millennial/gen z audience, there is the added pressure of creating excellent content, that also feels authentic – and more than just a sales message.

Alexandra Marzella (@artwerk6666) commented, ‘if Instagram used to be the “sketchbook”, it’s now supposed to be the “finalised product” – and that requires a whole new set of skills and energy.’


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And it really does. If you scroll back on a lot of brands’ (and influencers’) Instagram pages you can see the evolution from what we would now consider to be fairly amateur content, to professionally curated and designed grids, with a strong brand message.

We’ve learnt a lot in a fairly short space of time and as the platform and audiences alike continue to evolve – so must brands.

As a social media first, digital agency – we’re very well versed with the changing landscape of Instagram. If you’d like to find out how we support brands make an impact with theirs, visit our work page or get in touch.

Read the full article, delving into Instagram before influencers on Vice here.