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The Instagram Effect

by Olivia Williams | 07.09.2018

How a simple image sharing platform has changed entire industries

I remember getting Instagram. I remember downloading the app and following a few dozen of my friends. Inexpertly applying filters to overexposed photos on holiday in Portugal. Not writing a caption to accompany said photo – no hashtags or inspirational personal accounts of my day out. Getting a handful of likes. I thought it was all a bit pointless.

Fast forward four years and Instagram is the fastest growing social network in the world, with over a billion monthly users. The app continues to expand its offering, with Stories, IGTV and rumours of a standalone app dedicated to shopping in the pipeline.

Instagram has become so much more than an image sharing platform. People have forged hugely successful careers as influencers through Insta, and any marketer worth their salt understands the value it can add for brands. Instagram has become such a powerful force that whole industries are evolving to meet its demands.



It’s no secret that the high-street has been struggling in recent years. The recession and continued austerity take the lion’s share of the blame, but as a new generation of consumers come of age, shopping as we know it could be doomed.

A recent study found that 72% of Instagram users have made a fashion or beauty-related purchase after seeing something on the app. Instagram’s Shop Now feature streamlines the transition from the consideration phase of browsing online to making a purchase, and makes partnering with influencers all the more attractive for brands.

New brands like Choosy and Hundred Club have emerged to service the demand for fashion trends that blossom on Instagram, while physical shops are adapting their stores to be more visually appealing for the snap-happy consumer.


When it was reported earlier this year that Instagrammable destinations are the biggest priority when Millennials are choosing a holiday destination, it was hardly a surprise. Instagram-worthy means picturesque, and who doesn’t want that from a holiday?

But travel influencers have a lot to answer for, as a recent article reports. By posting beautiful photos of untouched and remote locations, influencers often inadvertently invite an influx of visitors who invariably damage or spoil the natural landscape.

Similarly, photogenic destinations like Machu Picchu, Santorini and the Sagrada Familia are so overrun with tourists trying to get the perfect Instagram snap, that local governments have gone so far as to introduce new laws freezing licenses for hotels and cruise ships to curb the endless flow of tourists.

Food and Drink

From cronuts and matcha lattes to freakshakes, beer ramen and smoothie bowls, food trends are increasingly led by Instagram, and the more photogenic your dish, the more likely it is to take off in a big way. According to the BBC, some chefs and restaurateurs have begun adjusting their menus to offer meals that look great on a smartphone screen.

The interior design of restaurants, bars and cafes is also a big factor for Instagram, with themed restaurants, neon signage and exposed bulbs rising in popularity partly thanks to how well they photograph. Pub landlords have even begun to spend thousands on Insta-friendly flowers to boost trade. If they want to fill tables, establishments can no longer rely on friendly service or flavour combinations but must create an aesthetic that appeals too.