Facebook snapped up Instagram, the photo-sharing app, in April. They paid $1 billion in cash and stock, which was very, very friendly of them, but also very prescient. Facebook + Instagram = a nice app/brand synergy of the experience of sharing photos and interests.
At the time, Facebook founder, Mark Zuckerberg, said that the company would be building on Instagram’s strengths and features and growing the app independently rather than “just trying to integrate everything into Facebook.” Facebook indicated that they intended on keeping features within the app that allowed photos to be published on other social networks, and the ability to have followers and to follow people who are not necessarily Facebook friends.
But what a difference nearly a year makes. Since Instagram got their new Facebook friend, the photo-sharing service has slowly distanced itself from Twitter. Today they unfriended them with news that Instagram integration had been disabled with Twitter Cards. Users can still share Instagram images there, but they look too large for the space provided and end up looking cropped. Competition has forced the situation, and there are now links that direct Twitter users to Instagram.com, which forces users to visit the Instagram website if they want to view images in their entirety. The reason for this move?
If you guessed it made things easier for users, you’d be wrong. If you thought it had anything to do with making money, you’d probably be right. Instagram has never really monetized the social network, but in the digital world, that philanthropic approach doesn’t last forever. These are businesses, after all, not hobbies – no matter how much money Mr. Zuckerberg has.
And if you don’t control the app, you can’t control the look and feel of advertising, and with more and more stuff going mobile. . .