In one of my earlier courses in marketing we were tasked to create a social media strategy plan for a local business. My group chose a small but specialized boutique in the heart of Gastown. In order to better understand the message that this particular business was trying to convey to it’s client, we had to extrapolate it’s key characteristics and create a persona.
This persona was only a representation of how we, as consumers (we did not communicate with the business owner for this exercise) view the the brand, which essentially makes this its identity. Just like in humans, a brand’s identity is (or should be) unique from all others.
As you may or may not know, Facebook has recently bought the popular mobile image site Instagram. This may seem just like any other corporate acquisition done by one company to eliminate potential competitors, and for the most part it was. If Facebook ended it there, and decided to just let Instagram be Instagram it would have been fine. But since then Instagram has had one major change, you can now view your feed on your PC. Is this a bad thing you ask? Maybe.
Instagram started out as a purely mobile photo sharing site. To some this was an inconvenience, but to others this is what separated it from all the other photo sharing sites. Users have developed habits of when they check their Instagram accounts, just as they have developed it for other social sites. They check it on the go because that’s how it was designed to be used. Take a picture with you mobile device, add and effect and post, all while your free of your desk. With the new functionality this could all change eventually, and Instragram will loose its identity. And since most people already cross post their Instagram photos to their Facebook profiles, its essentially going to become a “photos only” filter for their Facebook news feed.
A brand’s identity is extremely important, it how it attracts and keeps consumers. Imagine if Apple decided to start making Polaroid cameras? It sounds like something you would buy, but just think about it for a minute. Or imagine Facebook limiting your posts to a 140 characters or less. The other argument would be you don’t have to check your Instagram on your PC, you can just continue to use it as you always have. That maybe true, but that’s like buying your grandma a smartphone and telling her that she can just use it to make calls if she wanted to. The simple fact of the matter is, if it’s there it will be used. It may be that this will be good for Instagram in the long run, but the question is….where does it end?