Two top social media marketing platforms are combining, as Facebook is acquiring Instagram for $1 billion.
"I'm excited to share the news that we've agreed to acquire Instagram and their talented team will be joining Facebook," Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said in a Monday-morning statement. Zuckerberg continued:
For years, we've focused on building the best experience for sharing photos with your friends and family. Now, we'll be able to work even more closely with the Instagram team to also offer the best experiences for sharing beautiful mobile photos with people based on your interests.
We believe these are different experiences that complement each other. But in order to do this well, we need to be mindful about keeping and building on Instagram's strengths and features rather than just trying to integrate everything into Facebook.
Facebook is "committed to building and growing Instagram independently," Zuckerberg said. Instagram's connectivity to "other services beyond Facebook" is important, he added. In addition to Instagram providing its own photo-sharing service that shares photos on Facebook, Instagram also shares on Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, Foursquare, and more. Said Zuckerberg:
This is an important milestone for Facebook because it's the first time we've ever acquired a product and company with so many users. We don't plan on doing many more of these, if any at all. But providing the best photo sharing experience is one reason why so many people love Facebook and we knew it would be worth bringing these two companies together.
Instagram confirmed the acquisition in a post on its own blog.
Instagram has 30 million users.
For users, part of the allure of Instagram is that it's lightweight and fast. If you just want to share a photo, or look at other people's shared photos, Facebook is cluttered with games and apps. But Instagram is basically just a camera app with an array of arty filters and a "Share" button.
That lightweight sharing and big, devoted user base attracts brands, including Southwest Airlines, Bergdorf, Burberry, General Electric, Gucci, Pepsi Max, Redbull, and Starbucks ("23 Brands Using Instagram and What They're Doing Right"). As a marketing tool, Instagram is limited, with no mechanism for conversion, referring fans elsewhere on the Internet to additional content, and only offering basic analytics (you can find out how many people are following your brand, and users can mark photos as favorites, and that's about it). But for branding, it's terrific; brands use it to share photos of their products, from Starbucks coffee drinks to Southwest planes to big, hairy industrial machinery produced by GE.
What do you think is the potential for brands in an Instagram-Facebook marriage? Should Facebook enhance Instagram, or would that drive away users who love it for its simplicity? Let us know.
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— Mitch Wagner , Editor in Chief, The CMO Site