Instagram, in the last few years, has become one of those apps which not only brought a lot of joy to people’s lives but became a means of earning, taking social stands and showcasing talent. Thanks to this photo, and now video sharing as well, platform, millions of people around the globe can share their art, business ventures and happy memories with each other.
Kevin Systrom and Mark Krieger created Instagram and launched it exclusively for iOS in the year 2010. The success of the app was quick and unquestionable. In March 2012, the Wall Street Journal reported that Instagram was raising more funds and that will lead the company’s valuation to $500 million. That very same month, Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion in cash and stock and promised that they were committed to developing further Instagram independently.
Ever since then, the app has only gotten better and better. With each new update that Facebook released for Instagram, they added something new and soon, from being a platform where people could only like, share and comment on pictures, Instagram went to being an app which allowed people to stream live videos and video chat with each other as well.
Now all of this is well and good. No one can deny how amazing Instagram is and how necessary it has become in today’s times since a lot of jobs depend on this app nowadays. But can someone else develop a photo sharing app like Instagram, and if they can, can you? The answer is yes; you just have to be willing to put in the work. And today we will tell how you can develop an Instagram clone app as well.
So let’s get rolling then.
Yes, again! The first point in our guide is research. The reason is the same as always; you need to be prepared for the market. Don’t think that the whole world is just waiting for you and your app to come out, because that is almost never the case. You will need to fight tooth and nail to get recognized, and you can only do that if you are prepared and you know all there is to know about the photo sharing app development market.
But since we are aiming to develop an app like Instagram, we will have a lot less to focus on. All you need is to live and breath Instagram, go over every single feature and try to find out how relevant it is for its users. You can gather your data by conducting customer interviews and by reading what users have to say on Instagram’s app store pages.
Finding out MVP features
Now you need to understand that when Instagram started, it was nothing more than a photo sharing platform where all people could do was like photos and follow other people. And that was eight long years ago, and during this time, Instagram has expanded its feature list step by step or rather, update by update. And you need to do the same. Forget that you will be able to launch an app with as many features as Instagram right away and dethrone it, well you might, but the chances of that happening are very slim. So why take such risks when there is a safer way there. MVP, as we’re sure most of you already know, stands for Minimum Viable Product which is nothing but a smaller version of an app which is released before the original app containing only a fraction of its features. But the trick is, these features should be cool enough to hook your users and should be relevant to the core functionality of your app. For instance, an app like Whatsapp can or cannot have a status sharing feature in the MVP, but it has got to have a chatting feature in it.
Now that we have established that you need to create an MVP and you need to pick features for it, that doesn’t mean that you pick outdated features. Remember, you are competing with Instagram in 2019 and not 2010, so the features you pick must be according to the trend. And according to the experts here at Matellio, below are some of the hottest features that you need to have in your MVP for an Instagram clone app:
1. Signup and Registration
This is the first thing that your app needs to have. A newly downloaded app will ask your users if they want to create an account or want to sign into an already existing one. Both of these features should be on this screen along with a remember me radio box, sign in button and a forgot password link. Other than that, you must also allow your users to sign in using various other social media platforms like Facebook as well.
2. Personal Profile
Every social media app or platform needs to allow its users to manage their own profiles. From their user handles to their bios and profile pictures, all of this should be there. Other than that, you must have some privacy features in your app as well, which allow users to have a private or a public account. Your users should be able to turn comments on their posts on and off and if somebody is trolling them then report or block them, too.
The profile page must be clean, should clearly tell the number of followers, posts, and people who are following a user on top and all the images/videos that a user has posted must be shown below them in a grid format.
3. Share Photographs and Videos
A photo and video sharing app without the ability to share photos and videos is about as useful as a bucket with no bottom. You need to add this feature to your app, and you need to put it somewhere it is right in front of a user’s eyes. Furthermore, filters are an integral part of social media life. Instagram itself has forty different filters for users to use. So you need to add them as well along with other photo editing features like- crop, collage, color check, etc. These features will let your users tweak their photographs and share them with their followers in the form they want. Other than the editing features, you must allow your users to add a small caption below every post and add various hashtags, using which other people on your platform will be able to see that post, location, and tag other people too.
This trend started with Snapchat, and Instagram shamelessly copied it and kind of perfected it over the past two years. Now, Instagram allows you to share photos and small videos which disappear after 24 hours. Along with that, it allows you to add text, GIFs, stickers and hashtags and tags over them as well, all of which leads to a more focused and engaging content. We always put a lot of emphasis for businesses to be in line with the current trends, and we will say that again, Stories are a hot trend, and your Instagram Clone needs to have it as well.
This feature was added to Instagram just a few years ago, and again, like they are on a mission to create the ultimate social media app, they perfected it as well. From allowing users to delete a message to video chatting, they have beefed up their chat feature incredibly. You need to follow their suite and add a basic chat feature in the beginning. After that, you roll features like sending GIFs, audio, and video calls later on.
6. Stickers and GIFs
Again, in keeping with the trend, Stickers and GIFs are a necessity for every social media app these days. The prime reason why they are so popular is that they are a lot of fun. So make sure that you get them in your app as well.
This is where your users will be able to see the posts of all the people they follow. There is not much you can change in this module; your users will keep scrolling on their screens and check out various posts. There should be a like and comment button attached to every post and some other features like unfollowing an account, report post, etc. should be there as well.
This part of your app will allow your users to search people on your platform. You don’t need to develop a search engine like Instagram has right away, you can start by a simple search bar where people can type in the name of the person they are trying to find. Other than that, you can add a handful of filters which will allow them to focus their search results.
Now that it is through let us move on to some other factors that play a huge role in Instagram’s enormous success. One of the bigger reasons why Instagram has been so successful is that it is no longer just an app where people can socialize, but it is a powerful marketing tool for brands across the world as well. And not only brands but businesses and influencers of all kinds are also thriving using Instagram’s business features. Let’s have a look at a couple of them which you can consider adding in your MVP, too.
It is what you might call Facebook’s response to Youtube. We can all feel that the trend is shifting, in the coming years, most of the content shared on platforms like Instagram will be video. And Instagram is preparing for that as well. IGTV lets you share longer videos than your posts and stories. Brands can use this feature in more than one way, all it takes is a creative mind.
2. Hyperlinks and Hashtags in Your Bios
Instagram has taken Hashtags really seriously since the beginning. The aim is to lead customers to the right content and brands. So brands and influencers can make use of hashtags to bring users to them. Hyperlinks are also handy when added in one’s bio; they redirect a user to the brand’s original website which basically generates more traffic for it.
3. Turning existing ads into posts
This feature gives brands the power to turn their organic posts into ads, which was not possible up until some time ago. But now, using Facebook’s Ad Manager, you can manage the posts that your share as ads and increase engagement.
4. Creating engaging stories
It is ill-advised for a brand to post too many times, but there are no such rules for stories. You can use them to engage with your users. Use polls, conduct surveys and such. This keeps users engaged and interested in your business.
Beauty is the King
For apps like Instagram where it all about visuals, beauty is everything. And that goes for users and the app itself. Instagram, over the years, has changed its themes and logos multiple times, trying to find the perfect balance. And it doesn’t seem like they are quite happy with what they have yet and so more changes in its appearance are likely to come. Some things which we extracted from their quest to find the formula for visual perfection were as follows:
- A simple yet interesting logo
- Eye soothing color combination
- Overall, the app should look gorgeous
The other thing which works for Instagram is its amazing UI and UX. Instagram now follows the swipe formula to move between various screens. It has big shiny buttons, and nothing inside the app is too difficult to find. The sheer orderliness of the app is something to learn. So we suggest you come up with an easy way for users to interact with your app too. Because in the end, never forget that you are a social platform, and people don’t want to go jump through a lot of hoops just to see their friend’s vacation pictures.
Once you have taken all that from Instagram, it is now time to move on to deciding how you’re going to make it, and that includes personal factors. The biggest factor is how much can you invest. There are a couple of ways you can raise money for your app. First is that you already have it, which is an amazing but a risky way to fund your project till you have so much money that it wouldn’t put a dent in your wealth if things don’t work out.
The other way is to either find investors or do Crowd Funding. Now finding investors is difficult, but they can really give you the juice that you need to improve your project. So what you should do is first opt for Crowd Funding, just like Instagram did back in 2010, and raise enough money to launch the MVP of your app. If it’s a hit, you can carry on by finding more funds and eventually, if you’re lucky, you will attract willing investors or maybe even a company like Facebook who will just buy you out completely.
There are many platforms like Kickstarter, Pateron, and GoFundMe which let you fund your projects, from candles sticks to high-end apps. So make sure you at least give these platforms a chance before you put your project together.
Now if you are going to hire a development firm, you probably don’t need to know a lot about this point, but still, you need to know what’s what. There are primarily three portions you need to think about- the Platform, the app design specifications, and backend development.
The smartphone market is majorly divided between two players- Google’s Android and Apple’s iOS. Both of them have their own pros and cons; Android has a far greater reach with over 80% smartphone users committing to it while the rest of the 20% users who own apple are rich and prosperous folk who can afford to buy in-app stuff.
Apple apps are developed using Swift in Apple’s exclusive IDE XCode while Android apps are generally coded in Java and Kotlin in Android Studio.
For app design specification, your developers will most probably be using the following platforms- Adobe Photoshop, Illustrator, Balsamiq, and Dreamviewer. And for the backend development, the smartphone app developers you hire are likely to work in PHP and MySql with Ubuntu hosting servers.
Finding the perfect mobile app development firm
You’ve planned your project, you have raised your money, and now it is time to go ahead and start developing it. There two options, like always. You can either put together your own dedicated team which will be working solely on your app. Or you can hire a firm to make this app for you. The problem with the former is that it takes a lot of money to build your own infrastructure and hire people and pay them on a monthly basis. This is a challenging situation for a business in its infancy, and until and unless you have the patience and all the money in the world, not advised.
The latter is for those who want to follow a safer mobile development process. There are thousands of mobile app developers who would be glad to get their hands on your project. But the problem is- too many fish in the sea. And a lot of them are crooks. It happens all too often that a person approaches a firm for one of his projects and gets swindled for a lot of money for a platform which is worth nothing. Don’t let that happen to your project as well. Research these firms properly, check out their websites, their portfolio and see what their previous customers have to say about them. You can always take help of sites like Clutch who work exclusively to bring businesses like you closer to development firms with great history and work.
If you plan properly and move with caution, then you’ll be just fine. Instagram is quickly becoming a way of life, and the world is waiting for another app which could challenge it in the market, maybe it is your app. Who knows? But you wouldn’t find out till you give it a chance. So buckle down and move ahead.