Instagram hits 25 million users – you heard it here first


Since Christmas the mobile photo network Instagram has gained over ten million users.  This makes Instagram the largest mobile only social network with a global reach (see comment and update below).  Foursquare by comparison is on around 22 million.

Instagram hasn’t officially announced these figures, and they aren’t published anywhere else as far as I can see.

Indeed, the network has been relatively quiet since the end of the year with a lot of noise surrounding it having been transferred to Pinterest.  My guess is that with Kevin Systrom in SXSW next week, an announcement has been timed for then.

So how do I know about Instagram’s continuing, phenomenal growth?

By looking at two Instagram web viewers, Statigram and Ink361, which use Instagram’s API.

If you go on each, you will see every Instagram user has a number.   Signing up during SXSW 2011 made me user 1,620,807 (the number is consistent, here I am on Ink361  and here I am on Statigram.

If you go backwards, there is no user 1 or user 2, but user 3 is none other than Kevin Systrom.   User 20  is Shayne Sweeney an Instagram engineer.

Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver was user 3,532,778 , posting his first image on April 28 2011.  Justin Bieber is no 6,860,189, and so on until you get to Instagram’s newest user as of 10am GMT – no 25,973,449 @holliejsmith.

Again, she has the same user number on both Statigram and Ink361, hence my belief that my total is accurate – the only caveat is that neither service displays private users, and so I can’t tell if missing accounts in the numerical sequence are private or dead.  Even if the latter is the case and there are one million deleted accounts, the total would still be around the 25 million mark.

Let’s put these figures into some kind of context.

Just before Christmas, Kevin Systrom told NPR in the US, that Instagram had 16 million users .  There obviously followed countless iPhones under Christmas trees plus acres of good publicity when Apple chose Instagram as its app of the year.  Then, Barack Obama’s campaign team started using the service

As a result, the best guess we’ve been telling Rabbit clients is 20 million users.  So actually, we’ve been out by around five million.

Instagram has achieved this while only running on iPod Touches, iPhones and iPads. An Android version is apparently in the works .


By comparison, the location based service Foursquare, which has been around for much longer and is cross-platform has three million fewer users – again you can tell this by going into the Foursquare site where every user again has a number.  As of 10am, the latest user to have signed up was ‘Nurelli M’, user no 22,499,416

Three visually led services have gained an awful lot of attention over the past year.

Pinterest is starting to break into mainstream consciousness with major media running articles about it. Tumblr is now the world’s biggest blogging platform, having passed WordPress.     And based on the above evidence, Instagram is definitely on the way to becoming a 1st tier social network, it’s prediction of hitting 50 million once it migrates to other platforms is entirely realistic.

Update – this story has now been picked up by The NextWeb and from there other sites.  From some of the latter, the question has come up:  How accurate is this figure as it is based on the API, and should it be treated with a grain of salt?

The comment I posted under TNW article I think answers this, in that the user ID numbers correspond to Instagram’s own pronouncements.   For example, accounts in the 16 million range 1st posted around Xmas, matching what Kevin Systrom told NPR about user numbers.

Thanks also to @bayjinger for the comment below, I accept (and it s all too easy to forget) that there are almost certainly Chinese mobile only social networks with more users (reach can of course be measured in a number of different ways).

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  1. [...] La semana pasada, Dirk Singer, director de @TheRabbitagency , empresa británica especializada en medios de comunicación y social media con la cual colaboramos en nuestro programa de Bmibaby #InstameetExchange, afirmó en su blog que el fabricante de la aplicación para el iPhone de fotos más populares del momento podría haber recientemente superado la cifra mágica de 25 millones de usuarios. [...]

  2. How many users does Instagram have?…

    Oct 13 2010: 100,000 Oct 20 2010: 200,000 Oct 28 2010: 300,000 Dec 21 2010: 1 million Feb 02 2011: 1.75 million Feb 15 2011: 2 million May 03 2011: 3.6 million May 26 2011: 4.4 million Oct 31 2011: 12 million Dec 5 2011: 14 million Jan 24 2012: 15 mill…

  3. WhatsApp had a blog post where they showed off 2M active connections on a single server. Who needs that? Someone who’s huge.

    Considering they’ve been a top 10 iphone download for years, across pretty much all countries, and they’re totally cross platform, I’d bet they have well north of 50M users.

  4. Thank you @bayjinger for your comment and for the example. I take on board what you say, it is sometimes easy with a Western-centric perspective to forget that there are Chinese mobile only social networks with more users

    I do think we can still qualify this by saying IG is almost certainly the largest international mobile only social network

  5. [...] Dirk Singer, blogger of social media stats and research, came upon Instagram’s likely achievement when he noticed, through the use of two Instagram web viewers, that the individual account numbers assigned to new users appears to have exceeded 25,000,000. The account numbers appear to be sequenced to users based on when they signed up for the service. For instance, Singer points out, Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom is 3. An Instagram engineer is 20. The user ID sequencing continues longitudinally until, skipping ahead to today, Instagram user 25,973,449 signed up this morning around 10AM GMT. [...]

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