Facebook owned image sharing network Instagram has crossed 600 million active users (MAUs) just 6 months after it hit the 500 MAUs mark in June. Its competitor Snapchat on the other had claimed 150 million Daily Active Users as of June, and has reportedly initiated plans for an IPO.

Entry into ecommerce, advertising and more

Instagram has been adding or upgrading multiple features in its app to retain users. In order to enter the ecommerce segment, Instagram added clickable “shopping tags” last month which displays information about products and price within posts on the feed. The company was testing the feature with a few retailers like Kate Spade, JackThreads and Warby Parker in the US.

Shopping tags came just months after the photo-sharing app claimed to have 500,000 global advertisers on the platform in September, up from 250,000 advertisers within 6 months. The US, Brazil, UK, Australia and Canada were the top countries to advertise on the platform. Some other notable additions and features in this year include:

Moderation tool: In September, the app launched a “keyword moderation tool” which allows users to hide comments containing words they have blacklisted. This was added in addition to security features like deleting comments, reporting inappropriate comments and blocking accounts

Instagram Stories: In August, Instagram introduced Stories which allowed users to post pictures and videos for 24 hours with a self-destruct feature—something very similar to rival Snapchat’s primary feature. Instagram Stories also lets users to comment publicly and like photos and videos posted via the feature.

Changes to live feeds: In March, the company updated its live photo feed to display best posts or content based on the likelihoods, interests, relationship with the user, and timeliness of posts. It previously used to display posts in a chronological order.

Usage statistics

According to the company, as of September:
-Instagram had 50% of its users follow a business, while 60% users said that they discovered products and services via Instagram.
– 75% its users act on a post by going to the website, searching, shopping or sharing that information.
– 1 billion such actions have taken place on the platform since Instagram launched ads on its platform.
– 70% of ‘performance’ campaigns contributed to online ad money or mobile app installs.
– Performance on ads increased by 45% since June this year, contributing to a 2% increase in offline sales.
– 1.5 million businesses profiles within 2 months of launch of business profiles.
-A Nielsen study stated last year that  80% of the Instagram’s Indian users were mobile-first, using the phone to take pictures to post to social media.