I am in the minority. As are a lot of the people on Twitter today, crying out about the news. I’m certainly in the minority in my household. My nanny is a Facebook user first and almost never uses Twitter. She shrugged at the news. My husband values his Instagram network more than the others, and rarely shares on Twitter as is. He deemed the idea of “Twitter filters” as immediately lame. Tech insiders keep talking about how bad this is for users. But we’re not always representative of the whole. For many, it may not be.
I’m quite surprised (and delighted) to read some “layman” common sense from one of the technorati elite – the acknowledgment that the majority of ordinary people don’t have the same priorities and concerns that entitled early adopter douchebags like us do. Outside of a few folks wondering why some inline photos in their Twitter stream (which they rarely check often anyways) don’t appear as fluidly as they did before, I highly doubt the lack of Instagram’s integration with the Twitter card format will be anything but a blip on the user experience radar.
Instagram has 100 million users, but how many of them are there for Instagram’s own network effects and how many of them are there because they wisely leveraged the network effects of Twitter and Facebook early on?
While there are outlier examples of those who have built a massive audience on Instagram alone, the primary driver of its growth was most certainly visibility on existing platforms. If your pseudo-professional quality photos were walled off inside the app from the start, I highly doubt we’d even be talking about Instagram at this point, let alone it getting acquired by Facebook by a billion dollars.
Social media is fueled absurdly by hooking into our narcissistic dark sides, so the most valuable network to us will always be the one which permits for the maximum amount of reach. Take a look at Facebook’s long-standing march skirting the lines of privacy and you can tell Mark Zuckerberg has known this fact for years. The more public it is, the more it gets used – regardless of the vocal minority who will piss and moan about it.
The same assumption could be said inside of Kevin Systrom’s mind with Instagram’s book-ended strategy shift. Piggyback off of other larger platforms and use the network effect to grow. Then when at some amount of sustainable critical mass, expand your presence to blossom into becoming that very same large platform base – and start locking the doors to prevent competitors doing the same.
If you read the rags about this affair, Twitter is being portrayed as the bad guy. Facebook is being portrayed as the bad ‘big brother’. As I see it, however, Instagram is just as much the bad guy as anyone else. The fact that they’re decidedly smaller and have an ‘underdog’ tag in people’s minds is the only reason they’re avoiding similar vitriol.
None of these parties are doing anything outside of the typical growth playbook any business, online or off, operates by. How many more users does Instagram need before we end up turning on them too?