Instagram has hit the headlines recently with claims of surging user numbers (find out more about this here ), and as it turns five, today we take a look at what the future of this Facebook-owned social network could be.

Certainly, Instagram has gone from strength-to-strength recently – outside of China, active usage has more than doubled since Q2 2013 (from 7% to 15%). With user numbers still growing and more notable celebrities (including many US Presidential candidates) adding accounts, Instagram finds itself in a prime position to find new ways to monetize.

Online commerce options are one way that a network like Instagram can boost revenue and there is good news here for the service. Compared to the average internet user, Instagrammers are almost 60% more likely to say that the chance to buy something on a social network would increase the likelihood of them buying a product. What’s more, outside of China, almost half of active Instagram users use social networks to research products or services.

Instagram also has a young and brand-engaged user base that could be key to driving success in the realm of social commerce.  Almost 4 in 10 Instagram users are aged 16-24 (compared with less than a quarter for Facebook). And many of these Instagrammers are already comfortable with using their mobiles to shop online. In fact, last month, over a third of Instagram users purchased a product online via their mobile – making them 70% more likely to do so. Instagrammers are also the social networkers who are most likely to be following brands – half do.

All this means that Instagram has a strong future if it can truly leverage the potential of online commerce. Its next five years could see it become the driving force of social commerce.

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