Stay Together for the Followers

If you’re a part of the social stratosphere, you’ve probably heard that Twitter and Instagram underwent a pretty significant relationship shift in the past two weeks. After being acquired by Facebook, the social photography app seems to be a child in the middle of a tumultuous divorce. Although it was only a matter of time before Facebook and Twitter started sparring with each other, we now must confront some issues:

  1. This seems to be the first time in the world of social media when the consumer is not being considered. Social media has always been praised for its integration and ability to play well with others, thriving on sharing content across networks in an efficient and seamless matter. Of the newer social networks, Instagram relied on other websites to promote its users’ images, contributing to the content already established there. Taking away Instagram’s image-viewing card from Twitter so that users have to access their photos on a website with considerably less traffic seems illogical. However Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom cites the reason for removing the card is to drive traffic back to Instagram. Although parent company Facebook is not said to have made this decision, the timing of the release of new Instagram web profiles a few weeks ago and the fact that you can still view Instagram images on Facebook suggest otherwise.
  2. To quote the band Flobots, “There is a war going on for your mind.” The two social giants are starting to have a very public battle about which is the better social network. Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram and easier integration with Foursquare is fighting against Twitter and its new integration with Pinterest. The removal of Instagram from Twitter tells us that eventually a side will have to be chosen––classic vanilla or chocolate, Apple or PC. Google+ and YouTube aside, all the major players are beginning to be drawn to the battlefield. Ultimately, this defeats the purpose of social media. The social world works best with clean interactions across multiple channels.
  3. Everyone has been talking about using social media for business. It is now becoming clearer that social media is the business. The mindset started to become obvious after Facebook went public. Although its opening act in the market was less than desirable, Facebook has steadily climbed and tried to reposition itself. However, with that climb comes the problem of becoming a public business. Seemingly overnight, the focus goes from what consumers want to what investors want. The people of social media are losing their voice, as was evident in the failure of Facebook’s user base to rack up enough votes to be counted (30% of the users must weigh in), resulting in all users losing the right to vote on Facebook policies.

The causes of these tremors of change are still not apparent, although speculations can be made all day. It’s safe to say that no matter what, the social environment will go through a significant adjustment in 2013. Which then brings up two questions that can’t be answered:

What is going to happen to social media in 2013?

And, more important, how will social media’s new business mind-set affect users?

Author: Zack Smith

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