Tuesday, April 10, 2012

An Open Letter to Facebook Regarding Your Recent Acquisition

Dear Facebook,

Congratulations! Acquiring Instagram is a huge step forward for your company. You should be proud.

I've been an Instagram user for about a week now (Android user) and a Facebook user for 6 years (7 in November!) and while I am still learning the ways of Instagram, I do know what I like about it. Instagram is light, and fast. On my mobile, it's the easiest, quickest and most personable way to share photos with my friends and family. And thanks in part to the filters, the photos really tell a story, and demonstrate well the mood of the moment they're taken in, be it pride, frustration or facetious.

I'm writing this to warn you. I don't know what your plans are for Instagram, if this was a talent acquisition (oh God please no!) or a way for you to more closely integrate Instagram with your own offerings. What I do know is that there is an established community there, one that shares and cares. It has a huge heart, and as the new owners of that technology, it is your duty to care for and nurture that heart.

See, I've seen this kind of thing before. Remember when Myspace Music bought Imeem? I was one of those heartbroken Imeem users who felt lost and disillusioned by the purchase, like my opinion on it didn't even matter. I intentionally left Myspace in 2006, because something didn't feel right. I didn't feel I could really represent who I was there, and I felt like I had a better option to share with more of my friends and family on a different social network, namely, Facebook. Plus, I used Imeem primarily for the playlists feature. I even made a playlist for my 21st birthday party. We hooked a laptop up to the speaker system and I played my Imeem playlist the entire night. Best party I ever threw too.

Myspace wasn't a part of that, and they couldn't force their way into it with an acquisition either. I got the emails saying I could rejoin Myspace with my Imeem login creds, but why should I? Not when I had consciously left to begin with. And certainly not when I felt they had taken something from me that I could never get back. I felt powerless. You never want your users to have that experience.

I'm sure by now you're wondering how this applies to you, and the point is simple: don't make that same mistake. Now that you have access to Instagram's analytics data, take the time to really see how people use it, to really understand the platform. Heck, assign a whole team. I'm sure most of you use it, and have your own perceptions but everyone doesn't use tools in the same way. Figure out what gives Instagram its soul, its heart, and figure out how Facebook best aligns with that. And if theres no alignment, take heart in the fact that you own it, and leave it alone. Don't just shut it down to be rid of a competitor. That will not endear Instagram's users to you, and since this is a very public acquisition, people will know who to blame if their favorite app doesn't continue to serve their needs.

This is not a threat mind you, but I implore you, take the time to understand it. Be slow to act, because in this case you're not just taking a new company. Some people have put lots of time and energy into their Instagram'd photos. As a lover of both services, I want you guys to take the more thoughtful approach, before pulling the trigger on any plans you may have.

Don't repeat #RIPimeem.


No comments: