“Instagram isn’t going anywhere.”
While I’m sure that’s true in the broadest sense, I can’t imagine that the site’s new owner, Facebook, is going to let it continue without a great deal of modification.
Facebook became the proud owner of the more than 5 billion photos shared late last week. The announcement came with this statement attached:
As we said from the beginning, we are committed to building and growing Instagram independently. Instagram will continue to serve its community, and we will help Instagram continue to grow by using Facebook’s strong engineering team and infrastructure. We also can’t wait to work with the talented Instagram team to improve the mobile experience.
But we all know how these things go. As we speak, the Instagram team is moving in with their new landlord. It’s all fun and hugs at the beginning and then the rules start showing up in the email and the chain of command takes a sharp turn and soon those happy workers who were building something cool are watching their dream app fall apart in front of their eyes.
This isn’t a Facebook thing. This is what happens when the big fish eats the little fish.
What does this mean for Instagram users? Right off the bat, it means they need to get used to Facebook and all the trappings that come with it, including FB log-ins, autosharing, and tagging. I don’t care how much Facebook says Instagram is going to stand alone, there’s no way they’re going to pass up deeper integration with the popular app.
Now, I’m going to go out on a limb and say that most Instagram users don’t want to merge their accounts with Facebook. If you’re a parent, check out this article on CNET about how Instagram has become the social network of choice for tweens. The author turns the spotlight on her 12-year-old daughter and her friends, exposing their personal posts to prove the dangers of underaged Instagramming.
Though both Facebook and Instagram have a ban on the under 13 crowd, that doesn’t stop kids from signing up. Now that Facebook has more to lose, though, they may begin cracking down on accounts that break their terms of service.
Here’s the big issue: revenue. Instagram doesn’t bring a dime to the table and there’s no model for making money in the future. That has to change. There’s no way, Facebook is going to let the app continue without some kind of monetization, be it a hyped up paid version or (most likely) ads and / or sponsored photos. How is the current subscriber pool going to deal with that?
Bottom line, Instagram is on an upswing and if you’re looking for a young, trend-loving customer, you should look into using it to market your product. It probably won’t deliver clicks and conversions, but it’s an excellent tool to promote brand awareness, if you can create a campaign that speaks to this very specific audience.