A few minutes ago, the Instagram team noticed their servers blowing up. What happened? Were they under attack? DDoS? No.
After I saw the tweet, I reached out to Instagram co-founder Kevin Systrom, and he confirmed the massive influx as a result of Bieber. He us Bieber is gaining about 50 followers a minute at this point. All thanks to one picture. Of traffic. It has 234 likes already. And that number is also rapidly growing. Systrom says he’s also getting one comment every 10 seconds or so. These numbers are unprecedented for the already popular photo-sharing service.
Celebrities on Instagram is nothing new — Snoop Dogg is a long-time user, for example. But Bieber is known for his cult-like following, especially on Twitter. His usage could really lead to another sign-up surge for Instagram. Instagram is just shy of 7 million users right now. And they were growing fast before Bieber — last month they hit 5 million users.
Most importantly for Instagram, they didn’t reach out to Bieber to get him using the service. This isn’t some publicity stunt. He’s just using it because he heard about it and decided to check it out. That’s the kind of publicity money can buy, but it hasn’t here.