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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

Millions of dollars are being spent across apps, sets and props to help people project perfectly curated images for Instagram photos, Boomerangs and stories.

Why it matters: Instagram has exploded as the primary visual medium for social networkers around the world, with more than 1 billion users worldwide. Companies, influencers and everyday users are willing to pay big bucks to look their best.

By the numbers: In 2018, about 53% of the U.S. social network users will access Instagram at least once a month — a number expected to grow, per eMarketer.

  • Instagram has become central to public images, even for youth. Instagram usage among teens in the U.S. is growing at the fastest rate, according to the latest survey from Piper Jaffray.

Creators of Unfold, an app that makes Instagram story templates, has proved that users are willing to pay for flawless Instagram story design.

  • With 11 million users, at a rate of 100,000 app downloads per day, the company is set to bring in $2.6 million in revenue for 2018, per Fast Company.
  • Celebrities have driven the app's popularity. In-app purchases with new templates and designs help with retention rates, a challenge app developers have, CNBC reports.

Instagrammers are paying to wait in line at Instagram Museums, which are well-lit, aesthetically-pleasing rooms with props — a perfect recipe for candid photos on social media.

  • In New York City, people are paying $45 a ticket to wait in line at the Rosé Mansion, a pop-up set up for luxurious photo-ops.
  • The Museum of Ice Cream in San Francisco, 29Rooms and the Color Factory both in NYC are also popular photo-taking destinations.

Some companies are tapping into the popularity of Instagram stories and the purchasing power of celebrities and influencers who have large followings.

The bottom line: Businesses like Unfold are partnering with Instagram for a more seamless interface. Though Snapchat has the highest usage among teens, users are adopting Instagram at a faster rate.

Go deeper

Go deeper

Updated 7 hours ago - World

Mexican President López Obrador tests positive for coronavirus

Mexico's President Andrés Manuel López Obrador during a press conference at National Palace in Mexico City, Mexico, on Wednesday. Photo: Ismael Rosas/Eyepix Group/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

Mexican President Andrés Manuel López Obrador announced Sunday evening that he's tested positive for COVID-19.

Driving the news: López Obrador tweeted that he has mild symptoms and is receiving medical treatment. "As always, I am optimistic," he added. "We will all move forward."

7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Sarah Huckabee Sanders to run for governor of Arkansas

Sarah Huckabee Sanders at FOX News' studios in New York City in 2019. Photo: Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders will announce Monday that she's running for governor of Arkansas.

The big picture: Sanders was touted as a contender after it was announced she was leaving the Trump administration in June 2019. Then-President Trump tweeted he hoped she would run for governor, adding "she would be fantastic." Sanders is "seen as leader in the polls" in the Republican state, notes the Washington Post's Josh Dawsey, who first reported the news.

Coronavirus has inflamed global inequality

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

History will likely remember the pandemic as the "first time since records began that inequality rose in virtually every country on earth at the same time." That's the verdict from Oxfam's inequality report covering the year 2020 — a terrible year that hit the poorest, hardest across the planet.

Why it matters: The world's poorest were already in a race against time, facing down an existential risk in the form of global climate change. The coronavirus pandemic could set global poverty reduction back as much as a full decade, according to the World Bank.