We killed Instagram
Last week, I was thoughtlessly scrolling through Instagram, when something suddenly and clearly occurred to me – this sucks. And, that sucks. Instagram was once really cool. As the name indicates, the original concept embraced that a photo could be taken and instantly uploaded. It was simple and pleasant and fun to use.
As I scrolled, I didn't know what I was looking at anymore. Every post sandwiched between ads and suggestions on who to follow was a bunch of crap. Who's to blame for this? As with any crime, it's important to round up the usual suspects and make the guilty party pay for killing a once simple and somewhat beautiful application.
When I saw the first video posted, I was seriously irked. I didn't want video. I wanted pretty pictures of couples, sunsets and typefaces. And, you know what you get with video? Audio. And, you know what you get with audio? Interference. Now, when I am aimlessly scrolling, without warning, Richard Branson pitches me his new book. I like Sir Richard Branson, but I do not like Richie Rich talking to me while lying in bed at 9pm.
2. Instagram Stories
In an effort to compete and marginalize Snapchat, Instagram introduced stories. Stories are disposable photos and videos with silly graphics that expire within 24 hours. It was created by and for Snapchat's specific audience. It's way more interactive, and noisy, and geared towards a much younger audience. There is nothing inherently wrong with this and it works great on Snapchat. The way a pickle is fine on a sandwich, but not at all fine on an ice cream sandwich.
Facebook sucks. I mean, it sucks from a user experience / design / visual communication sense. It has slowly turned into an amalgamation of all social media platforms to the point it's almost unrecognizable. And, it's because they have been listening to their customers. Which seems like a good idea, but in the immortal words of Henry Ford, “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.” RIP MySpace.
No shocker here. Marketers ruin everything. We do, and we will continue to do so forever. If humans are somewhere, we will find a way to get in front of you. We set up entire photo shoots that are engineered to appear"candid." We talk about appearing authentic. Yuck. Yea, I am kind of sorry about that. [Sidebar: I vow we will always battle and never promote something that is disingenuous or all together just kind of crappy.] But, the ads work pretty well, so you can definitely expect to see more of them.
Innovate or perish is the saying, yes? Well, that's fine and I understand why they made all these different moves. They make a lot of sense. Introducing video probably killed Vine. And stories help Instagram compete for Snapchat's audience. But, at some point Instagram is going to look like Facebook. And, Facebook looks like this:
I believe in innovation, but innovation doesn't have to be disfiguration. And, since I don't want to be a negative Nancy who points out problems with no solutions, here are some ideas on how to innovate without losing the simplicity:
Simplify. No one has ever said, "I hate this, it's too simple." The beauty of Instagram was the simplicity and the design. Go back to only square photos, remove video, make stories appear in your stream instead of in an entirely different place.
Be exclusive. Make marketers pay a premium to advertise on Instagram. Like a lot more. We'll do it. Currently, when you advertise on Facebook you can simply click a button to also post on Instagram. Make that a premium cost, and restrict all ads to a specific size and do not allow text.
Chronology. Let us see our posts in freaking chronological order. This was dumb. Please fix.
Limit posts: What if you could only post once a day? Or once a week even? I bet you'd get more thoughtful and quality posts. It's logical to think limiting people is the wrong thing to do, but when restrictions are place on us it often heightens our creativity. If I say describe your perfect day, you'll probably be stuck. But, if i say describe your perfect rainy day, you're more likely to have a better story to tell.
Agree or disagree with me? In the spirit of my last point, please express your reactions in only emojis.