Six Suggestions For Facebook’s Instagram Acquisition */?> Six Suggestions For Facebook’s Instagram Acquisition

Posted by · April 9, 2012 2:48 pm

Believe me, I’m as shocked as you are.  Just last week, Instagram launched their Android app and closed a major round of Series B funding with Sequoia, Thrive Capital, Greylock Partners and Benchmark Capital. And today, Instagram CEO Kevin Stystrom announced that Facebook has acquired Instagram for $1 billion dollars.  (Yes, that’s a “b”, not an “m” after that 1.)

Since I’m an Android gal, I’ve only been using Instagram for a few days; but that is more than enough time to fall in love with it and make me incredibly sad to hear that Facebook–a company with a history of killing anything it acquires–has bought the app.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t blame Systrom one bit. There are only a few reasons–most of which involve illegal activities–that one should pass up $1 billion.  But if the magic of Instagram gets lost in Facebook feature creep, I will hold Mark Zuckerberg accountable.

According to Systrom’s post on the Instagram blog, the Instagram app will remain the same but Instagram employees will join the Facebook team to build new features and grow the Instagram network.

“The Instagram app will still be the same one you know and love. You’ll still have all the same people you follow and that follow you.You’ll still be able to share to other social networks. And you’ll still have all the other features that make the app so fun and unique.”

Since I’m not overly optimistic about the truth of Systrom’s statement, I thought I’d give both him and Zuckerberg a few things they should and shouldn’t do with Instagram now that it is a part of Facebook.

Three things Facebook should NOT do with Instagram acquisition:

1. Require Instagram users to have a Facebook account– Sure, many people choose to sign in to Instagram using their Facebook account.  It does make it easier to find friends and share photos on your Facebook wall, but there are still a lot of Facebook haters out there (though I think much of the vitriol has shifted to Google as of late) and forcing people to have a Facebook account in order to sign up for Instagram may scare people away from using the app more than it attracts them to it.  (After all, Instagram hasn’t been the subject of any data privacy scandals, while Facebook on the other hand…)

2. Automatically start posting photos to people’s Facebook wall– I immediately delete any Facebook app that requests to automatically share my app activity on my Facebook wall.  If Facebook would like to give users the option to automatically share their Instagram photos on Facebook, that’s fine.  But please, Facebook, make that option a check box that is NOT selected by default. (For the record, Zuckerberg said they would not do this, but I’m not entirely sure I believe him.)

3. Serve ads on the Instagram app– Part of what makes Instagram so attractive is that the app is an endless stream of beautifully filtered photos. Other than usernames, captions and two small buttons to like or comment on a photo, there’s nothing to distract the user from looking at pictures.  Ads would ruin the visual simplicity that is Instagram.

Three things Facebook SHOULD do with Instagram acquisition:

1. Give it a web presence- Given the success of Pinterest, it’s clear that people like a visual representation of the things they love. Furthermore, people like to group those things by categories.  An Instagram website–or, more likely, an Instagram tab on Facebook–that gives users the ability to see more than a mobile phone sized grid of all the photos they and their friends have taken could be a big hit.  Add the ability to curate your photos into board-like sections and Instagram for Facebook could become a hot new web destination.

2. Allow Instagram filters and photo editing tools to be used on previously uploaded Facebook photos- Everything looks better in Instagram.  If Facebook gives the mobile app a web presence and allows people to apply Instagram editing tools to all of their Facebook photos, the amount of time people spend on Facebook would increase exponentially. Which means so would advertising revenue.

3. Integrate with brand pages- One of the first things on Facebook’s Instagram to-do list should be figuring out a way to allow brands to leverage Instagram for marketing purposes.  Whether that’s integration into Timeline or creating verified brand accounts on the Instagram app, companies want to communicate their corporate culture to their customers.  What better way to send a message than through a photo taken in real-time with an Amaro filter?

Regardless of what Facebook does with Instagram, there’s no denying that the over 30 million users Zuckerberg and Co have just acquired makes Facebook even more of a force to be reckoned with online.  It’s your move, Google.