Facebook is holding a press event this Thursday, June 20, during which it promises to reveal a “big idea.” What’s in store? Pundits seem to suggest that the social network is going to tweak Instagram to better compete with Twitter’s Vine service. That means adding video.
Is this good or bad?
I’ve been thinking about it for the past twenty four hours or so and my general thought is that it’s exactly where I don’t want the social network heading. A secondary app? Sure, maybe, though I think Vine does it well enough right now and I’m not sure I need another mobile social network to fumble with at all times of the day.
Instagram’s charm lies in its simplicity. Load it up. Look at pictures. Like or comment a photo. Move on. See a nice sunset? Share it. Accept feedback. Move on. Instagram is piecemeal looks at beauty, cats, or someone’s lunch. It’s quick, dirty and I can move on with my day in a few moments. Video could ruin that, potentially, especially with Facebook’s obsession to drive revenue out of mobile clients. Want to see how such an announcement could ruin Instagram?
Let’s think about it.
I’ve already argued that Facebook’s news feed is a pile of trash. It seems that the company is going to do the same to Instagram but in the guise of an added feature. Load up Facebook and count the number of advertisements in your mobile news feed. I see four “suggested pages” in a six hour span of my timeline. None of them interest me. Now imagine if you just wanted to look at photos, as Instagram users do, but instead you’re cruising through video advertisements for Ford or Pizza Hut or General Mills. One way to save Instagram, however, could be to add a separate stream for video feeds, perhaps in the form of a tab that users could tap to access a dedicated area for the 5-10 second clips.
I understand Facebook needs to recoup the investment in made when it acquired Instagram for $1 billion, but at what cost? As we saw with MySpace, too much trash on a page can turn a user off. Social networks, whether we like it or not, are becoming ad networks.
Hopefully Facebook proves me wrong.