If you plan to create a mobile application that will compete with Instagram, you need to understand that this will be a very complex project, requiring considerable effort and investment. Especially if you want to create something unique. But this is not the only way. Instead, you can clone Instagram functions, work a little on the uniqueness of the design, add something from yourself and present the result as an improved version of the program familiar to everyone.
At first glance, such a project may seem dubious and even disastrous, but do not rush to draw conclusions. Think of WhatsApp and Viber, GrubHub and Eat24, Firefox, Chrome and Linkedin and other applications that you constantly use. Almost all of them have very similar analogues and at the same time they are all extremely popular. Based on this, it can be concluded that cloning an idea and even an entire application is not always bad, provided that you can stand out and attract an audience.
Download statistics for the most popular applications according to Sensor Tower
In order for your photo-sharing app to be successful, you should explore the main competitors of Instagram. Thus, you can understand how such projects managed to gain a foothold in the market and use this knowledge to increase the competitiveness of their own platform.
Here are a few Instagram competitors to analyze:
Pinterest. The service is popular with women who use it to share photos of dresses, home improvement ideas, recipes and handmade products. That is, Pinterest is mainly about "things", while Instagram is mostly about "users".
Flickr. A social network with the ability to stack upload a fairly large number of photos and export them to individual albums with a single click. Very handy if you are a photographer or designer.
EyeEm. A platform for professional photographers. Here you can upload photos and encourage users to share them with their friends, as well as sell photos to brands.
Imgur. Service for sharing fun content: photos, memes, gifs, jokes and comics.
Even the most superficial analysis of the above services indicates that they can compete with Instagram by targeting a specific niche, while Instagram is a service for everyone and everything. Therefore, if you want your mobile application to be competitive as well, then you also need to bet on a specific target audience.
The simplest example is a business application exclusively for companies, professional photographers and designers (as is the usual WhatsApp and whatsApp Business). Other examples:
An application for gardeners, botanists and other specialists in the field of crop production, landscape design and the like.
Service for scientists and science lovers (each study is dozens, if not hundreds, of applications in the form of photos, illustrations, tables and graphs).
An application for artificial intelligence, where digital personalities will share their creativity with each other and “meatbags”.
In addition, you can bet on a specific country (unless it is the United States and Western Europe) by creating an application design that takes into account ethnic, religious, historical and other local traditions. By the way, a service focused on religious communities (all or some separately) is also not yet available.
# 2. Marketing strategy
In order to make your application popular, you need to develop and launch a marketing campaign in advance, so that by the time you launch you already have users who want to register in it. If we talk about Instagram, then it became popular thanks to buzz marketing: individuals tried a new application and shared their experience with friends and subscribers on other social networks.
To start talking about your photo sharing application, use:
Social activity: Create a page dedicated to your application and start communicating with your target audience. This will create a potential user base even before your application becomes available. In addition, this way you can create informational occasions for word of mouth and publications in the press.
Referral program: you can reward people for inviting their friends. Rewards may include special photo effects, new filters, or any other features. For example, Clear has a reward system that allows you to unlock secret backgrounds by completing advertising tasks, such as posting a story on Facebook.
Influence marketing: invite people who already have popular accounts on other social networks (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter) to your service. To do this, offer them free advertising on your platform, free access to premium features or another form of cooperation that is beneficial for them.
PR campaign (public relations): Use links with bloggers and journalists to draw attention to your application. For example, if you want your photo-sharing application to gain a reputation among photographers, you should contact well-known blogger photographers.
# 3. MVP Development
Instagram Key Functions
Even if you create a clone of a well-known application, the concept of which is confirmed by the original, you still need to start development with a minimally viable product (MVP). It is more efficient in terms of costs, risks, testing and potential market growth. At the same time, you should start with the implementation of the basic functions and only after their testing proceed with additional.
User panel. A set of features aimed at ordinary users who want to upload photos, videos and gifs to share with friends and other network members. To do this, in MVP you need to implement the following functions:
Registration and authorization. Functionality that allows users to create an account by registering via email, phone or social media accounts (Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Google and Apple ID). In addition, there should be an option to restore access, reset the password and the ability to log in using a fingerprint or Face ID.
Editing a profile. A private section, access to which is available only to the user and the administration. Here, people can enter their personal data, adjust their visibility and customize the appearance of the profile. If the application works with payment systems, then their connection should also be done through a personal profile.
Users of your application should be able to communicate in real time. To do this, they need chat and push notifications that notify of all new messages. You can also implement video chat, but only after thorough testing of MVP.
Upload photos and videos. The main functionality of Instagram-like applications. To do this, you need a backend platform that will be responsible for the storage, accounting and distribution of content, as well as a content submission screen and a status information screen. In addition, to increase user engagement, you need the ability to tag, comment, like, search and file complaints.
Photo editor. To attract users and compete, you must add filters, rotation, cropping, perspective adjustment, straightening and other photo editing features.
Integration with social networks. Users can easily link their profile on your social network with accounts on other social networks. This will allow you to set up automatic publication of new messages (photos) in other social networks, and vice versa: automatically publish content uploaded to Facebook, Twitter or Instagram on your network.
Geolocation. Users should be able to indicate where this or that photo or video was taken. In addition, other users should see this place not only in the photograph, but also on the world map. That is, you need integration with a GPS sensor and Google Maps or its equivalent.
Search. Ability to search for other users and content by nickname, keywords or hashtags. You also need various filters to search: by download date (time), popularity, number of comments, rating, location, etc.
Admin panel. Platform management features. Needed to comply with company policies, communication with users and punishment of violators of the user agreement. These functions include:
Authorization. Needed to access the admin panel.
Dashboard. Shows the technical condition of the service.
User Manager. It tracks users and allows you to interact with their profiles (edit, ban, delete).
Content manager. Tracks content uploaded by users.
Reports. System activity statistics.
Android and iOS are the main platforms for launching the application.
React Native - sharing code and iteration speed, Java and Python - the rest of the functionality.
Amazon EC2, Route 53, S3, EBS, and EBS — computing power and load balancing.
Gunicorn - The interface between web servers and the application.
Ubuntu Linux is an operating system.
PostgreSQL - data storage.
Django (in Python) - web server.
# 4. Testing
The created MVP needs to be verified. Technical verification is carried out by QA-engineers who check the operability and speed of the application, and are also responsible for finding errors, bugs and the like. Conceptual validation is done using focus groups and beta tests. It is needed for validation: the functionality matches the design to the needs of the selected target audience.
# 5. Launch
The next step after checking the MVP will be a decision on whether you want to improve it or leave it as it is. Improvement can be carried out by creating a better design and by implementing additional functions that will distinguish your project from competitors. These include:
Video effects and beautiful transitions.
Download long videos (appeared on Instagram in 2018).
Ability to broadcast (stream).
Integration with payment services.
Once you decide that your Instagram clone is ready for the official release, you need to plan the deployment of the application. Depending on the strategy, you can release the application with all the functions at once or do it in stages to attract the attention of the audience to new updates.
The cost of creating an Instagram clone
Ready Solution. The network has many offers for the sale of almost complete clones of the Instagram application, the cost of which varies from 20 to 5 thousand dollars. These are template solutions with few options for customizing design and functionality. If you select them, you can save a lot, but there can be problems with security, privacy and copyrights. In addition, buying a template solution does not eliminate the need to develop a backend.
Development from scratch. Time management for developing an app like Instagram is next:
Foresight of Posts. Instagram, Klink, and other photo-sharing apps earn the most of their revenue from promoted posts that users can post in stories, posts, or carousel ads.
In-App Purchases. In early 2019, Instagram added the Checkout feature, thanks to which you can make purchases without leaving the application. You can follow the example of Instagram by embedding a similar function in your application and take a commission from each order and / or for providing this function to stores.
Premium features. In 2016, Instagram added the Business account feature for small and medium business owners. This account gives you access to additional features that help increase customers and sales. You can do the same by entering access fees or using premium features.
Selling Data. They do not like to talk about this, but many applications have been created with the expectation of monetization through the sale of personal data of users. They are very expensive, especially if it is data on a specific target category.
Advertising. Regular contextual advertising of third-party services or offers of stores off the platform.
Merehead does professional development of photo sharing app. If you have questions, contact us for a free consultation.
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