Part instant picture, part telegram, Instagram is one of the fastest growing social networks today. In as little as nine months, over seven million users have downloaded the iOS-only app and contributed over 150 million pictures. What began as a way to share mobile photos in real time has transformed into a content curator of live world events and has spawned several clever offshoots to boot.

So what makes Instagram so unique? It’s a global movement. The top 10 downloads come from four continents: Asia, North America, Australia and Europe, which makes it one of the only social networks to crossover continents. Not bad for a four person operation from San Francisco, right? Following users from around the world is one of the my favourite features because at any given moment I can see pictures from Spain, Japan and Brazil without even knowing the users, just by following their feed. It’s a very intimate thing to share moments of your day through photos. It’s also very comforting and somewhat rewarding when I start to receive comments and likes on my photos from users who are thousands of miles away. My follower list continues to grow, as do the likes and comments on my photos. For me, it’s the most innovative social network I am a part of.

Instagram is one of the world’s biggest content curators. What took Flickr almost two years to accomplish, Instagram completed in less than half the time. Over eight short months Instagram produced 100 million photos, that’s 15 uploads per second. And we’re only talking Apple users here, pretty incredible. Social sharing is fully integrated so I can post my latest shots on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and even my Tumblr account which has transformed into a photo blog thanks to all of this. Following real live events has also been a great feature of Instagram. From the Royal Wedding to natural disasters, there are even countless feeds dedicated to the global Occupy movement. Instagram makes it easy to keep up to date in real time to what is going on in other cities and countries.

So now you have all this great content, what do you do with it? This is where the really cool stuff begins. Countless awesome offshoots have sprouted up in the past few months to leverage and amplify Instagram content. A few of my favourites are:

Statigrams – allows you to instantly turn your Instagram stats into cool, sharable infographics.

StickyGram – allows you to turn your Instagram images into lovely little magnets that are delivered to your door. You can also enter your images to weekly contests to win free magnets.

CanvasPop – recently integrated Instagram images to create stunning wall art printed on canvas.

I thought I would share my own Instagram content experience, (yet to be publically marketed, I might add). I recently decided to get new contact cards from moo.com and used 45 of my favourite Instagram photos as the backside to my cards (which I appropriately took a photo of and published to Instagram). They look fantastic and are great conversation starters.

With the recent launch of the Flickr integrated app on Android and no word on a Blackberry app, it looks like Instagram is going to dominate the Apple-only space for a while. I eagerly await the other amazing features, apps and off shoots Instagram has in store over the coming months and, I might add, am completely addicted to this app.

 

 

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