Picture this: Facebook – mere weeks away from what should be a stratospheric public offering – buys Instagram for a cool $1 billion. Suddenly the app you use on your iPhone (and just recently Android phones) to dress up your smartphone photos and send them out on your favorite social networks..is owned by the Big Dog of social networks. Now small/midsize companies can truly show and not just tell their stories on their Facebook pages, since Mark Zuckerberg’s company will figure out a way to make its Instagram connection very marketing-friendly for Timeline for Businesses, right?
Or: the same thing that happened to location-based services company Gowalla (remember them?) happens to Instagram, and the acquisition is merely a high-dollar way for Facebook to silence a potential competitor to its own photo-sharing services.
If Zuckerberg’s Facebook post about the acquisition is any indication, that latter option won’t be happening anytime soon. Yes, Instagram will remain separate. No, it won’t turn into a Facebook-exclusive service; you’ll still be able to share your photos accessorized as scratchy tintypes with other social networks. Yes, Instagram’s features will soon make their way onto Facebook’s pages.
“Providing the best photo sharing experience is one reason why so many people love Facebook and we knew it would be worth bringing these two companies together,” Zuckerberg writes. “It’s because of our dedicated and talented team that we’ve gotten this far, and with the support and cross-pollination of ideas and talent at a place like Facebook, we hope to create an even more exciting future for Instagram and Facebook alike,” adds Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom on his company’s blog.
Yet Monday’s news broke just one week after Experian Hitwise revealed in a new study that the scrapbooking phenomenon Pinterest is now the third most popular social network after Facebook and Twitter. That rapid rise testifies to the fact that more people want to view the Internet, not just read it. The Facebook/Instagram development underscores this and should make it clear to social media marketing professionals that we now have to leverage the visual trend via photos and videos for business clients. We can now help them take customers behind the scenes, show off archival photos from a businesses’ history, and ask for photo contributions on a wide variety of subjects – some having to do with what a business does, and some that just ask potential/current customers to share a part of their lives, thereby humanizing brands and businesses.
Both Pinterest and Instagram became popular because they are easy to use, and play into mobile media-sharing desires among friends and colleagues. That should continue as long as the combined Facebook/Instagram doesn’t screw things up, as illustrated in this post from TheNextWeb’s Drew Olanoff. Otherwise, businesses are now one step closer to visual storytelling goodness.