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Happy birthday, Instagram! Photo sharing app turns 3

Tuesday - 10/8/2013, 9:03pm  ET

Instagram, the popular photo sharing social network app, is celebrating a big milestone this week — it's third birthday.

On Oct. 6, 2010, Instagram launched. In just the first few hours, the app hit 10,000 downloads in Apple Inc.'s app store. In 24 hours, Instagram had reached 25,000 users. And after a year, Instagram reached 10 million users.

Founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger had found almost instant success with their new Polaroid-style photo sharing app. How did they manage to do this, not to mention sustain that success over time?

For one, Instagram is a rapidly evolving platform. In 2012, Facebook acquired Instagram for roughly $1 billion in a combination of cash and stock. Now, with more than 150 million active users, Instagram is moving beyond just photo sharing. In June, the company introduced video sharing to compete directly with Twitter's video service Vine.

More recently, Instagram announced that it will begin showing advertisements in user's photo streams. While some people are upset about Instagram's latest move to monetize, the platform could potentially pull in more than $400 million annually, according to CNN.

Instagram is also extending its popularity beyond everyday users. Celebrities and Fortune 500 companies are integrating the platform into their everyday marketing strategies. TrackMaven, a competitive analysis firm, took a look at what drives businesses to use Instagram. It focused on the 2013 Fortune 500 companies and found 123 have Instagram accounts.

The rate of adoption by Fortune 500 companies is rapidly growing. Starbucks became the first Fortune 500 company to join Instagram, in December 2010. In 2011, 14 more companies joined. Now, of the 123 Fortune 500 companies on Instagram, at least 91 percent have posted at least once on their account.

Instagram has made it easy for users to engage and interact online. With a simple tap, users can like or comment on photos or videos. Fortune 500 companies on average receive 2,164.63 likes and 35.07 total comments per photo, according to TrackMaven.

So what about the future? We can only speculate as to what the next three years might look like. For now, Instagram is continuing to grow in popularity and becoming an important marketing tool for businesses.

Do you use Instagram? Share with us why you like using the app with hashtag #WBJSocial.

© 2013 American City Business Journals, Inc.