Born in 2010 from the minds of two young Stanford graduates, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, Instagram has grown into the most influential social media platform in just eight years, with over one billion monthly active users around the world. The intuitiveness of image-centric communication, which transcends textual and linguistic limitations, and a user-centric service that reflects real-time community feedback are the key pillars of Instagram’s success.

Welcome to the 68th edition of B.

Being an editor of a brand documentary magazine, I’m often asked what my favorite or go-to brand is. And each time, I try to avoid answering because I have a strong tendency to nose around and try new things rather than grow attached to any one brand. Yet, while putting this edition together, I became convinced that I now have an answer for such questions in the future: my favorite brand is Instagram. For me, scrolling through Instagram has practically become a ritual on my commute home from work or before turning out the lights. On days when I don’t get a chance to browse through the feeds, I can’t quite shake that inexplicable sense of void. I’m sure I’m not the only one experiencing these symptoms. According to statistics, users under the age of 25 spend an average of 32 minutes a day viewing photos and videos on Instagram. Instagram’s founder and CEO Kevin Systrom recently announced that the number of monthly active users on Instagram has exceeded one billion.

That said, though, it wasn’t just the size of the company, its speedy growth or massive influence that intrigued B to cover Instagram. We actually thought it was important to understand the ways in which the service survived through the years of tremendous change, and how those contrivances surfaced as phenomena. The signature square frame and the filter options—which were really all Instagram had in its early stage—may very well be the key to understanding its evolution. The square frame, which is now an iconic emblem of Instagram, could be seen merely as a choice of retro aesthetics, or it could be regarded as a “re-editing tool” that amends weaknesses in the original image, in that users can preserve just the most appealing and effective portion of an image by simply cropping. The 20 some filter choices and the recently added Boomerang and Stories are, in a way, tools that make run-of-the-mill moments and scenery seem special. The company motto is to strengthen relationships by sharing experiences. In hindsight, the only thing that could be more powerful than this mantra is the company value that gamified the work of image editing and enhancing into a form of play.

It’s no exaggeration to say that the rise of the new digital class, the “influencers,” also owes much to the aforementioned power of editing. If time before the Instagram epidemic had been the age of professionalism, it has now become an age of “amateurism.” One do not need specialized skills in photography, design, or any other creative field to get enough competitive edge within the frame of Instagram. The fact that there’s an endless stream of small independent magazines using Instagram like this, and that an atelier-size fashion brand can get as much exposure as mainstream powerhouses proves that Instagram has done its job right as a platform for amateurs with latent talent. We see bona fide celebrities like Beyoncé and Pharrell Williams following amateur creator accounts and backing their works, and there are even cases where huge corporate labels seek insights from these amateur creators. What would this be if not a reversal of cultural power?

Nevertheless, serving as a platform offering tools for power can only keep Instagram in the limelight for so long. It’s inevitable that new digital platforms will continue to emerge as technological and social conditions evolve. We’ve seen the chronicles of MySpace, Twitter, Facebook, and other blog services—but aside from the inescapable limitations, B wanted to underline Instagram’s brand value, the perspective that creativity comes from betterment of imperfections and that nothing is perfect from the beginning. Instagram has been making betterments themselves, and in such an effortless and intuitive way, too. Systrom said himself in an interview that “Instagram has a history of retiring things that don’t work,” and that the service is “still evolving,” defining “evolving” as “removing things that don’t get used or aren’t perfect and changing things that exist into new formats.” These words let us know that the state of imperfection can be seen as a positive sign that there are yet opportunities to start anew.

Eunsung Park

Content & Editorial Director

Intro


Editor’s Letter


Hashtags

Cultural impacts of hashtags highlighted by the media


New Generation

The ways the digital native generation exploits Instagram


Opinion

Eva Chen, Head of Fashion Partnerships at Instagram


People

Lifestyles of global influencers producing distinct and authentic content


Creations

A typical content genres on Instagram offering new perspectives


Opinion

Ian Spalter, Head of Design at Instagram


Products

Instagram’s various user- centric solutions quickly reflect community feedback


Invitation

The IGTV launch event held in San Francisco


Opinion

Marcus Fairs, Editor-in-Chief of Dezeen


Groundbreakers

Unconventional uses of Instagram as a business platform beyond promotion and marketing


Instagrammables

Instagram’s influence on recognition of space, its practicality, and aesthetics


Brand Story

Strategies that jet-fueled Instagram’s growth into the most influential and successful social media platform


Headlines

Instagram’s recent one- year trajectory and future projection seen through major media headlines


Dictionary

Hashtags as keys to understanding these contemporary times


Pioneers

Seven founders of powerful social media platforms that are leading sociocultural changes


Culture

Instagram’s internal teams and their approach to defending and guiding community values


Interview

Mike Krieger, Co-founder & Chief Technology Officer of Instagram / Marnie Levine, Chief Operation Officer of Instagram


Figures

Instagram’s steep growth and leverage seen through numbers


References

Outro

PUBLICATION RIGHT

Publisher  Suyong Joh
Executive Director Myungsoo Kim
Content & Editorial Director Eunsung Park
Senior Editor Heather Yoo
Editors Jaewoo Seo, Narae Kim, Chanyong Park, Jean Kim, Sol Lyu
Photographer Miyeon Yoon
Interns Diana Park, Sooyoung Hwang
English Translation Seoul Selection
Art Direction & Design Gyeongtak Kang
Assistant Design Yoonjung Jang
Marketing Hyunjoo Kim
Sales & Distribution Sanghoon Kim, Suyeon Kim
Correspondents  Mihye Nam (Tokyo), Lena Shin (LA), Alex Seo (London), Sanghyeok Lee (Berlin), Hyeseon Jeong (Paris)
Publishing  JOH