Picture being able to filter your Facebook photos, or use your Instagrams as Facebook Checkins. Though Instagram will remain its own “independent” app, its $1 billion acquisition by Facebook could power many improvements for the two photo sharing services.
Instagram founder Kevin Systrom and Mark Zuckerberg have reassured users that the Instagram they’ve grown to love isn’t going away. But what will change? Here’s a look at a five of the ways we think the two services could work together to further dominate photo sharing, make more money, and give you a better experience.
Thanks to the official posts announcing the acquisitions, we know a few things for sure. Systrom explained on the Instagram blog post that:
“It’s important to be clear that Instagram is not going away…We’ll continue to add new features to the product and find new ways to create a better mobile photos experience…You’ll still have all the same people you follow and that follow you. You’ll still be able to share to other social networks. And you’ll still have all the other features that make the app so fun and unique.”
Additionally, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg wrote on his Timeline:
“Now, we’ll be able to work even more closely with the Instagram team…We believe [Facebook and Instagram] 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. That’s why we’re committed to building and growing Instagram independently…We plan on keeping features like the ability to post to other social networks, the ability to not share your Instagrams on Facebook if you want, and the ability to have followers and follow people separately from your friends on Facebook.”
For background, here’s how the services currently work together. An Instagram Find Your Friends tool lets you discover and follow all your Facebook friends who are already on the app. In this way, Instagram takes advantage of your Facebook social graph to let you quickly populate your Instagram feed with photos of friends. Note that you create a distinct profile when you sign up for Instagram, rather than importing one from Facebook or Twitter.
Toggling Facebook sharing on when you post an Instagram causes that photo to be uploaded to a special “Instagram Photos” album on your Facebook profile. It appears labeled as “Josh Constine took a photo with Instagram” with these links and a URL in the photo’s description leading to its separate Instagram comment page and the company’s home page.
This creates a nice value exchange, where Facebook gets to host photos taken on Instagram and benefit from the engagement, notifications, and page views they generate. Instagram in return receives viral growth, as the multiple links to it generate referral traffic for both its photos and its home page where it displays download links for its iOS and Android apps.
So that’s how the two already cooperate. Here’s what could happen next:
Last year, documents leaked to TechCrunch revealed that Facebook was working on a competitor to Instagram — a standalone app where you could filter, publish, and browse photos. Instagram may now act as that standalone app, but some of its features could get added to Facebook’s own interfaces. Your Facebook for iPhone or Android app might soon let you add Instagram’s filters to photos or auto-correct their brightness and saturation with a “Lux” button before you publish. Those same features could a be added to the Facebook web photo uploader to let you beautify whole albums.
The only way to upload Instagrams to Facebook is one at a time. I wouldn’t be surprised to see an option either in the Instagram app or on the Facebook web interface to add all your Instagrams to your “Instagram Photos” album on Facebook. Another possibility is for Instagram to let you choose one of your existing Facebook photos to filter, edit, and publish.
Facebook Sign-Up / Login To Instagram
If Instagram was built into Facebook’s identity platform, you wouldn’t need another password to remember, and it could speed up the on-boarding process for new users. Instagram would likely keep its own login system as an option, but this would make it so you could instantly find your Facebook friends and publish photos back to the social network.
Using Facebook’s Places Database To Turn Geo-Tagged Instagrams Into Checkins
Instagram currently relies on Foursquare’s location database to let you search or browse for nearby businesses or landmarks and tag them as where a photo was taken. Facebook maintains its own Places database, and powering Instagram geo-tagging would let it get its location layer under your Instagrams. That way Facebook could notify friends of the chance for a meetup when you take photos nearby, tie your photos to business Pages, and more accurately target you with local advertisements.
Tag Facebook Friends In Instagrams
Right now you can somewhat clumsily @mention other Instagram users in the description of your Instagrams, but there’s no way to actually tag someone as being in a photo. Facebook could lend Instagram its mobile photo tagging technology so you could tag either Instagram users or Facebook friends. That would let Facebook notify someone they’ve been tagged, and make sure it shows your sweet snapshot to their friends too.
[Image Credit: Modernbook Gallery – Tom Chambers]