Instagram is a fast, beautiful and fun way to share your photos with friends and family. Snap a picture, choose a filter to transform its look and feel, and then post it. Share to Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr too – it’s as easy as pie. It’s photo sharing, defined.
That’s why so many people were horrified when Facebook bought it in 2009. They expected Instagram would be turned to crap and die. Nevertheless, here we are – Instagram is one of the hottest social media properties in existence.
So what’s the future of Instagram?
Prediction #1 – Instagram won’t die – your soul will
As a former advertising executive, I say this with all conviction – advertising is a cancer that destroys media channels. It starts off as being something that you think is benign. Before you know it – you are drowning in ads.
Instagram may prove no different. The rise of banner blindness, fraud, and a myriad of other defects have marketers seeking alternatives. When Instagram, and the largest ad agency holding company, Omnicom, agreed to work together, it signals a future whereby paid advertising will be largely visual (no surprise to us), and can be successful without a direct-response component (micro-targeting thanks to Facebook).
Users will undoubtedly hate it. Advertising wrecks everything.
Prediction #2 – Instagram won’t die – Stock photo companies will
The real power of Instagram is its licensing agreement. It’s claimed over and over it doesn’t own your photos. That’s true – it even says that right up front. Instead, what you agree is Instagram can pretty much do whatever it wants, for how much it wants, when it wants, without ever talking to you in any way, ever again, even if you object.
How the heck is that not ownership?
If I were National Geographic – or someone who creates high-end photography – I’m not sure I’d be keen with “all your photos are belong to us” approach to licensing. Eventually, they’ll piss someone off.
That said, Instagram could wind up the most amazing clearinghouse of professional photography ever devised. Consider the story of Daniel Arnold, who made 15K in one day selling his photographs for private use. They weren’t even licensed for commercial or editorial use.
Prediction #3 – Instagram won’t die – the Art Business will
So if artists don’t sell their Instagram photos, and if Instagram doesn’t sell them, well perhaps someone else will?
Did you know someone could resell your Instagram pictures for $90,000?
Richard Prince, an established artist who plays with authorship and appropriation, made waves at the Frieze Art Fair with his Instagram paintings.
Prince took screenshots of gorgeous Instagram pictures uploaded by celebrities and artists, added creepy comments underneath, like, “Enjoyed the ride today. Let’s do it again. Richard.”, then he printed the images on canvas. Last fall, he exhibited them at the Gagosian Gallery, where they sold for $90,000 each.
To quote Charlie Sheen -” Winning!”
Prediction #4 – Instagram won’t die, YouTube will
Ok, maybe not DIE – but we had that neat little thing going with our headlines: Instagram will very soon be more about video than photography. I realize that Instagram Video has been around for about two years now, but the reason I think Video is going to eclipse the photography end (and thus put YouTube at risk) is how Facebook is pursuing video.
On August 5th, Facebook launched Facebook Live, which lets broadcasters instantly start a live video stream on Facebook. Users can tune in to watch in real-time and submit comments that appear on the broadcaster’s screen. Facebook shows the streams in News Feed to people who Like the broadcaster’s Page, and sends instant notifications about tuning into fans who’ve interacted with the broadcaster recently on Facebook. As this service grows (because everyone on the planet is on Facebook) – its highly likely that Instagram will wind up the vehicle for all that video.
As it presently stands, Facebook is already claiming more people watch Facebook videos than watch YouTube in a day and is eating away at Google’s market share for YouTube (Source: SocialBakers).
With four billion views a month (and growing – that was March of this year), Facebook could rapidly become the #1 video destination – and Instagram will undoubtedly drive much of that traffic.