Thursday, 6 December 2012

Instagram vs. Twitter: Who really wins when we all lose?

Instagram vs Twitter

You might have seen the articles today about Instagram, and their decision to withdraw support for Twitter Cards for their platform. It’s caused a shit-storm on the tech scene, with Mike Arrington, The Verge and many other sources weighing in with their opinion on the decision.

Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom has came out with an apologetic yet defensive response at the LeWeb conference stating that the decision was made to protect their data, and ensure eyes were heading to their platform, and not viewable on other platforms. Something they’d never do to Tumblr. Or Facebook.

Are they really trying to tell us that this decision wasn’t a bit of tit-for-tat retalitation over Twitter blocking Instagram from using their Friend Finder API? Yes, they really are. They say they have a ‘really good relationship with Twitter’, despite recent events.

But how can that really be true? Are the team at Instagram really asking us to believe that when making this decision, the Friend Finder API issue wasn’t considered as a black mark against Twitter’s name?


The biggest losers in all of this is, of course, you and I.

We all want connectivity. In terms of what a Utopian future of what online connectivity is, we all dream of having seamless, open collaboration between platforms. What happens on Instagram goes to Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr, Flickr, etc. It’s simple for us, and the advantage of being able to create once and publish everywhere is a standard that many companies are adopting, whether it’s in-app, on-site, or even via their CMS.

What Twitter, Facebook and now Instagram are doing is essentially trying to work in the most counter-productive/intuitive way possible for users, and justifying it by saying that they own our details and content on their platforms (actually, to be fair, Facebook allow you to download and remove most of your data - they are a lot more transparent than Twitter and Instagram at the moment - shocked much?).

The problem with that argument is: if you piss of your users, it doesn’t matter if you have their personal details. Did you see what happened to Myspace? That’s right: if you don’t play nicely with others, you are going to lose relevancy with your users pretty quickly. They won’t give a shit if you have their details - they won’t care what you have to say. And in the social web we inhabit, that’s lethal.

So Instagram, Twitter, any social platform that operates in this manner: learn to play nicely. Learn to be a bit more open than you currently are. Customers will forgive you if you pivot with your product - just don’t be stupid and pivot on them.

What do you say?

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