I don’t use Twitter anymore. Brainless 140-character-or-less chatter by people expressing their opinions about opinions is boring. And Facebook now sits last camel in my social network caravan, having given way to a new method of interacting with friends, families and brands. It's called Instagram.
Instagram is a two-year-old, 100-employee company that has created a photo sharing mobile app that, in my opinion, trumps all other social networking platforms. Facebook, over its relatively short lifespan, has tried to recreate the photo sharing experience on its site through redesign after redesign. But it has yet to match the simple interface of the scroll and double tap of Instagram. Instagram gives its users a clean and clear experience—no clutter, no ads, just photos. Maybe that’s why Facebook recently bought Instagram for $1 billion.
Instagram’s photos are about quality, composition and making even mundane moments magical. Smartphone users select from an array of different filters to enhance their photos with coloring, light leaking and fading. But it all starts with the quality the user wants to build in to the shot, as well as a deep and personal artistic concern to put out high-quality photography. Instagram users—30 million and counting—are serious about this new craft. It makes their mobile phone cameras, already essential to their lives, a new means of expression and sharing.
Brands such as Saks Fifth Avenue, Southwest Airlines and GE have acknowledged the power of Instagram, using photo sharing to connect with and learn about their customers. Even the iconic jewelry brand Tiffany & Co. provides its website users with the ability to like, comment and hash-tag Instagram photos. While many brands have larger followings on Facebook and Twitter, consumer engagement on Instagram will likely continue to rise. There is no doubt that photo sharing is a big part of our digital future.
The value of Instagram is simple. Brands have backstage access to how people are interacting, talking and using the brand. Consumers can connect with the world around them, and even for a short moment in time, feel like Ansel Adams.