Food, travel, pets and selfies push Instagram to almost 100m posts a day

The revolution will be #filtered: Instagram’s explosive growth is showing no signs of slowing, with close to one hundred million photos and videos now being shared on the platform every day.

New figures show the photo-sharing platform’s monthly active user base has more than doubled in size over the past two years, with 500 million people a month worldwide now using Instagram.

Three hundred million – just shy of the entire population of the United States – use the app every day.

By comparison, Facebook had 1.65 billion monthly active users as of 31 March 2016 and about 1.1 billion daily active users – about three times Instagram’s figures.

But Facebook also owns Instagram, having bought it for US$1bn in cash and stock in 2012. Analysts now believe it could be worth as much as US$37bn – not a bad return on a company that, just four years ago, had 13 employees.

Instagram has been the fastest-growing major social network for some time, with the Pew Research Centre finding “significant growth in almost every demographic group” in the two years to 2014.

More than 95m photos and videos are now shared on the platform on average per day, drawing 4.2bn likes. That’s about 44 favourites for each post – though before you deem your latest work a write-off, Selena Gomez and her ilk will be throwing the average off.

The former Disney star is the most-followed celebrity on the platform, with 85.4m followers. Gomez’s most recent picture, a candid shot taken behind the scenes of her Revival tour, has 2.5m likes. It certainly puts your most successful selfie into context.

The explosion of growth in recent years follows companies embracing the platform as a marketing tool. Businesses either reach potential customers directly through their own, often heavily hashtagged presences, or via product placement with “influencers” with significant followings on the platform.

The recent rollout of an algorithm-driven feed is pushing advertisements further, with a greater focus on sponsored posts reported in the new timeline.

But the findings publicised on Wednesday show – in among the ads – there’s a world waiting to be explored in square, filtered photographs, with 80% of Instagram’s users outside the US.

A more specific breakdown of users by country was not available, but Instagram flagged some topics of particular interest in places around the world. Barber accounts are big in the Dominican Republic, longboarders in Taiwan, sneakers in Morocco and Algeria, “wilderness skills” in India and golden retrievers more or less everywhere but especially Brazil.

As Instagram has grown, trends have emerged within fashion, music, food, travel and pets – the effectual “pillars” of the platform. In five years, there have been more than 82m posts tagged #outfitoftheday or #OOTD, while #WhereIStand has captured users’ globetrotting adventures.

In five years of Instagram, 381,000 users got their #firsttattoo …

… More than 82m “outfits of the day” have been posted

… There have been more than 32m #throwbackthursdays, including this one of Taylor Swift dressed up as Laa-Laa the Teletubby

… 169,000 people have posted about #mostwonderfultimeoftheyear (usually, but not always, Christmas)

… Nearly 1bn people #love someone, or something, like this hamster (#hamstergram)

… And 4m people have posted a picture of a cute animal every week with the hashtag #weeklyfluff

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