How to Build an App Like Instagram

Nearly 45% of the world’s population currently uses social media. That equals 3.48 billion individuals who share photos and videos from their lives with each other on social media. Therefore building a social media app like Instagram can attract investors with a compelling concept.Given these figures, it is evident that photo-sharing applications attract a significant portion of users’ attention. Instagram is the industry leader, but there is still a substantial need for additional user-friendly software.

Why Instagram?

Instagram is one of the leading social media apps, with over 2 billion monthly active users. It allows people to share photos and videos with friends and followers. Instagram is an excellent platform for businesses and influencers to connect with their audience.But, did you know that before Instagram became the app it is today, it was called the Burbn app? Yes, you read that right! When the app was still in the idea phase, it seeded funding worth $500,000. However, the idea was so good that Instagram received $57.5 million in total.

The Power of Instagram

Instagram is a very visual, user-friendly platform that can be used by people of all ages. What started as just a platform for sharing photos now features stories, IGTV, shoppable posts, name tags, Instagram reels, explore pages, and much more!Nowadays, the app is not just for sharing photos but has also become a powerful advertising platform. Interestingly enough, 60% of Instagram users visit the platform to find new products, leading more and more brands to increase their advertising budget for Instagram in 2021.Here are a few more interesting facts about Instagram that you probably had no idea about:
  • Attaching a photo in a square with a few filters is the MVP of Instagram.
  • Instagram’s UPS combines photo-sharing and editing tools.
  • 1 billion users use Instagram monthly, and 95 million photos are shared daily.
  • Instagram is worth more than $100 billion.
  • Pizza is the food that gets shared on Instagram the most.
  • 33.1% of Instagram users are between the ages of 25 and 34.
  • 80% of Instagram accounts are set up for personal usage.
  • Over 500 million people utilize the Stories feature daily.
Now that you’re more familiar with the story behind Instagram and the most important stats about it, it’s time to get technical! Keep reading to discover the app’s main components that will help you create an app like Instagram more efficiently.

Instagram’s Main Components

Even though Instagram is usually considered just a photo-sharing app, it’s much more than that. You could think of it as four separate apps combined into one: a chat app, an eCommerce portal, a photo-sharing app, and a photo-editing app.Let’s examine each type of functionality more closely so that you may specify your project goals and build an app like Instagram more easily.


The app’s primary focus is on photo-sharing. In its early days, the app was elementary: users could take photos, apply filters to them, and share them with their followers.Nowadays, users can also share videos (up to 60 seconds long) and stories (videos or photos that vanish after 24 hours). IGTV is also available, which allows users to watch long-form videos.If you plan to create a social media app like Instagram, you can base it on photo-sharing. This is what Instagram did in the beginning as well, and it upgraded more features over time. But, if you plan to base your app on photo sharing, then your app must have the following features:
  • User profiles
  • The option to add and delete photos
  • Geolocation features
  • User tagging
  • Comments
  • Integration with other social media apps

Photo Editing

Although photo-sharing is Instagram’s primary focus, it also has excellent photo-editing features. When you open the app, you can see many filters you can apply to your photos.But filters are not the only thing that makes Instagram’s photo editor great; it also has other editing tools, such as brightness, contrast, saturation, and more.What makes editing an excellent feature is that it evokes users’ creativity and motivates them to spend more time using the app to create more visually-appealing content. If you plan to include an editing feature in your app like Instagram, then make sure to include:
  • User profiles
  • Filters
  • Brightness
  • Contrast
  • Saturation
  • Crop
  • Resize
  • The ability to add text, frames, stickers, and other extras.


Another way to have users spend more time on your app is by integrating a messaging feature.Instagram also features a messenger that allows users to communicate with each other privately. This is a great way for app users to connect with friends, family, brands, and businesses.The app’s messenger is very user-friendly; it has all the features that a regular chat app would have, such as emoji support, group chats, and even voice and video calls.If you plan to build an app similar to Instagram and have it include a messenger, make sure to add the following features:
  • The ability to send text messages
  • The ability to send photos and videos
  • Emoji support
  • Group chats
  • Voice and video calls
  • The option to block and report users

eCommerce Feature

Instagram is also an excellent eCommerce platform, allowing businesses to create a profile and promote their products.Users can browse through the app and see all the products that businesses offer; if they’re interested in something, they can click on the product and be redirected to the business’s website.This way, businesses can promote their products without spending much money on ads.If you plan to build an app similar to Instagram and include an eCommerce feature, make sure your users can:
  • Create a business profile
  • Promote their products from the business profile
  • Browse through businesses’ products
  • Click on a product and be redirected to the business website
With these features, you can create an app like Instagram more easily. Of course, there are other features you can add to make your app even better. But, these essentials will help you get started in no time.Now that you’re aware of your app’s main features, like Instagram should have, let’s move on to the tech stack you need to use.

Instagram Tech Stack

You don’t need to be a developer to understand the fundamental technologies to be used if you want to build an app like Instagram. This section explains the technology stack that can be used to develop apps similar to Instagram.

iOS Application

The programming language used to develop Instagram for iOS is Swift. The app uses Alamofire for networking, an HTTP networking library written in Swift.

Android Application

The programming language used to develop Instagram for Android is Kotlin. The app uses OkHttp 3 and Retrofit 2 for networking.

Back-End Development

The back-end of Instagram is developed using Python. The app uses MySQL for storing data.Express 4 is used to develop the framework, and Socket.IO enables the communication between users (i.e., messaging).

Third-Party Services

Instagram uses many third-party services to power its app. Some of these services are:
  • FCM – used for push notifications
  • Google Maps – used for geolocation
  • Amazon S3 – used for storage
  • Elastic Email – used for sending emails
With this tech stack, you can build an app like Instagram without problems. In addition, there are other technologies you can use; it all depends on your preferences and the features you would like to include in your app.Now that you know the main features and tech stack of an app like Instagram, you’re ready to start building your app. And here are five steps that will help you get started!

Create Your Own App Like Instagram

Now that you know what features an app like Instagram should have and what technology to use, it’s time to start building your app.Get started easily by following these five steps.

Step 1. Brainstorm an Outstanding Idea

The first step is to brainstorm an outstanding idea for your app. Think about what makes your app unique and what features you want to include. Your app can be inspired by Instagram, but it needs to be unique.

For instance, you can develop an app that focuses on photos and videos and includes editing tricks such as transforming static photos into animations and reversing videos.

Step 2. Research the Market and Carry Out Idea Validation

Research the market to see if there are any similar apps and what features they offer. Also, check if there is a demand for your app. Investigate the current trends and potential competition, so you can know for sure if your idea has a chance to succeed.

Step 3. Draft the First Prototype and Validate It with Your Focus Group

A prototype is the first version of your app that includes the main features and allows you to test the app with real users. Create a prototype and test it on your future audience. This will help you further validate your ideas and discover what works with your audience and what doesn’t.

Step 4. Proceed with an MVP Development

A minimum viable product (MVP) is a version of your app that includes only the essential features and allows you to test the app with real users. Develop an MVP so you can release your app as soon as possible and get feedback from your users.

At this point, it is preferable to consider collaborating with a development provider to benefit from their experience and repurpose the best practices instead of hiring an in-house team.

Read our blog In House vs Outsource: Which Hiring Option Is Better for You?

Searching for a reliable partner to help you build an app like Instagram? ClickIT is the way to go!

Step 5. Launch, Promote, and Grow Your Solution

After you’ve developed your app and it’s ready to be launched, promote it! Create a marketing campaign and make sure people know about your app. Also, don’t forget to track your app’s key metrics to see how it’s doing and what improvements need to be made.

How Much Does It Cost to Build an App Like Instagram?

In general, the cost of developing an app like Instagram for iOS starts at $20,000 and can go up to $70,000. For Android, the cost starts at $15,000 and can go up to $60,000.

However the cost of how to make a social app like Instagram varies, depending on the features you want to include, the platform you want to launch, and the country you’re in.

If you want to build an app like Instagram but don’t have a big budget, you can start with an MVP. An MVP is a version of your app that includes only the essential features and allows you to test the app with real users.

The cost of developing an MVP starts at $5,000 and can go up to $50,000.

Need Assistance with Building an App?⁠ Ask ClickIT

Already have an excellent app idea, but not sure where to start with development. Ask ClickIT, the top nearshore DevOps and software development company.

What makes ClickIT a reliable choice for your app like Instagram development project is:

  • Ten years in the market
  • 50+ certified engineers
  • 500+ successful projects
  • 100% cloud-native solutions


Instagram is one of the best-known apps, with over 1 billion monthly users. It is used to share photos and videos, connect with friends, and promote businesses.

Every software product has the potential to succeed, given the increasing use of smartphones, the reality of social distancing, and our remote-everything way of life. If you’re thinking about creating an app like Instagram, you need to make sure your app is unique and offers features Instagram doesn’t have.

Already have an idea for a social media app like Instagram? Realize it with the ClickIT team.


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