Nick Bilton of the New York Times is reporting that Twitter is working on adding filters for photos to its product. This is clearly an attempt to add to its current capability to upload photos. At first blush, you will think that this is purely a defensive move against Facebook and Instagram. While that might be partially true, adding filters to photos does not cancel out Instagram whatsoever.
Instagram is a fantastic community of people who don’t always use Twitter or Facebook. In fact, I know plenty of people who spend zero time on Twitter and Facebook yet still love to take photos, add filters and communicate with their new-found Instagrammers. It’s a phenomenon of epic proportion, and that’s why Facebook acquired the company.
For Twitter, giving its photo product some juice makes complete sense. It will keep people on the service longer, like its Discovery and Search products do. Will it bring hardcore Instagram users over for photos? I don’t really think so, since most of them who use Twitter push the photos to the service already. There’s really no need to duplicate your efforts unless Twitter comes up with something really amazing.
The Instagram Community
The story of the Instagram community fascinates me, because it got strong so hard and so fast. People immediately gravitated to the service and expressed themselves through photos in a way that they never have before. It’s quite powerful to witness if you’re thinking about it in that way.
Very quickly, people wanted to have their photos on the popular wall on Instagram, become an “InstaStar” and become “InstaFamous.” On Twitter, you can become popular for saying funny or poignant stuff. On Instagram, it’s the way that you see the world that sets you apart. That’s earth-shattering stuff.
Better yet, the Community Team over at Instagram is made up of some of the best in the business. Through the app and the blog, they’ve engaged millions of users and encouraged them to take more photos and express themselves even more.
Ever hear someone complain about you taking too many Instagram photos? Not as much as you hear about over-tweeting. It’s for reasons.
Twitter and Media
Twitter needs to embed more media on its site and rely on third parties less. That’s why Facebook and Google both have their own video and photo properties. It’s about owning the data that makes it so compelling. Once you “own” and host the data, you can do some pretty cool repurposing of it like having a popular wall or a trending section.
I suspect that’s what Twitter will do.
In Bilton’s story he says that the main people pushing for these features are celebrities and VIT’s, or Very Important Tweeters. I don’t really buy that, but sure, let’s go with it. If you can make Justin Bieber happy by giving him a branded filter, then millions of little girls will use it. You get the idea.
At the end of the day, Instagram is fine and Twitter is merely trying to keep up with the Joneses. It has to be different though to make a real impact, and I hope that’s what Twitter does. It doesn’t have to be “fancy,” but it has to make sense.
Heck, we’re already hearing that Twitter is working on video. Why not photos too?