Why Instagram Won't Be the Next Facebook

3 years ago

Complaints about Facebook are definitely constant these days. From the complexity of privacy settings to the constant manipulating of the news feed, Facebook does not seem to be making many friends in the social media world. In fact, Facebook seems to be losing their corner of the market with young users and its growth in all demographics has slowed.

Instagram, however, is on the rise. With Instagram being owned by Facebook, I had initial fears that the newer photo-based social platform would follow in the direction that the Facebook monster has moved. Would Instagram just become another Facebook, with an algorithm-based news feed control and sometimes excessive ad placement?

Image: Jason Howie via Flickr

I don’t think so. The reasons people often cite for leaving Facebook – its irrelevant nature, the lack of privacy, the wasted time – are unlikely to invade Instagram. There are a few key reasons, I think, why Instagram won’t be the next Facebook.

  • Instagram has less oversharing than Facebook. While on Facebook, I constantly read people’s complaints, their drama, and their basic oversharing of personal information. It’s one of the main reasons I have backed off on the time I spend on Facebook. With Instagram, the whole platform is based on capturing a picture and having it tell the story. Hardly ever do people capture a picture of their rude waitress or their vague “poor me” cries for attention. The nature of pictures makes it much harder to overshare the thoughts that are better left unsaid.
  • Self-promotion is easier to weed out. Before I choose to follow someone on Instagram, I check out their most recent pictures. If all of them are simply graphics for a recent post or link-up, I pass. If their feed is a mix of personal pictures and a graphic here and there, I’ll give them a try. With Facebook, it would take me time to read through status updates and posted pictures and shared links to determine if the page or person had valuable content to share. With Instagram, I can do this with a quick glance.  
  • Privacy is much simpler on Instagram. The Facebook rules for privacy have become complex and almost impossible to ensure you have control over the content you share. Concerns about privacy are one of the top reasons people choose to abandon Facebook. Instagram is far more simple – you are either public, or private. Either anyone can see and follow you, or only those you approve. End of story. So either you guard your privacy and restrict followers to those you choose, or you recognize that your pictures are not private and post accordingly. A bonus to these simplified rules? You see in your news feed the Instagram users you choose to see.
  • Mobile usage is far easier on Instagram. Instagram is a mobile-based app, so using it from your phone is actually easier than using it from your laptop. I can view my feed from my laptop, and follow other users or make comments, but that’s about it. Really, my sharing and interacting on Instagram is done from my phone. Even with the Page Manager app from Facebook, posting and interacting from a mobile device is not as simple as I would like it to be. Often the tagging doesn’t seem to work right, and I can’t schedule everything I would like to. Instagram is meant to be an on-the-go platform, and is therefore easy to use that way.
  • Pictures are more relevant than text. Images capture our attention and inspire us to engage more than a simple line or two of text. The Facebook posts that receive the most interaction and engagement are the ones with a visual – either a picture or video. Instagram uses just those mediums, and eliminates the text only sharing. Don’t get me wrong – I am a huge fan of the written word, but Facebook is often not a picture painted eloquently with words. Rather it is a stream of consciousness pushed out into the world in a hasty, unedited rush. Instagram is the story of a life, told in pictures.

While there’s no telling what the powers that be will do with these platforms, I think Instagram has certainly set itself apart from its parent, Facebook. And if a picture is worth a thousand words, what do we need a status update for?

What do you think – will Instagram be the next Facebook, or does the platform have the power to be different?

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