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Instagram Direct Photo Messaging and thoughts for Libraries

by Joe Murphy Librarian on December 12th, 2013

Today Instagram unveiled Instagram Direct, a way to send private photo/video messages to other Instagram users.

With Instagram Direct, photo and video messages can be sent to your followers and to non-followers (context of twitter’s recent position changes on this). Can be sent to single users or to groups (last year’s group messaging trend) and can include text. Metrics are available for who has viewed the photo message. Messages do not disappear on Instagram Direct as they would in Snapchat: apparently the permanence of messaging is still important to Instagram, possibly for views metrics though it says for a return to the conversation. Sharing privately mirrors the sharing to followers traditional Instagram option in the vein of Path vs. a distinct messaging feature a la the Facebook apps.
More info on their blog.

This entre by Instagram into the private messaging landscape is about:

  • The increased primacy of privacy as privacy control is embraced as a digital life skill
  • Photo conversations and a continuing growth of the photo messaging arena
  • Peer to peer and peer to group photo sharing
  • An expansion of the Facebook/Instagram ecosystem

Facebook (remember that Facebook owns Instagram) is reacting to the Snapchat push. Facebook tried to buy Snapchat for $3 Billion last month and this is likely a further move by Facebook to counter its perceptible teen exodus towards Snapchat etc. Also an attempt to counter iMessage, Twitter, and WhatsApp as a play to stay strong in he mobile messaging world.

Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom got it right when he said “You take a moment in the world, and you take a photo or video, and you create a space for conversation.” Photo messaging is about communication. Instagram is “built into phones,” not cameras, and “phones are communication devices.”

We have seen a “visual communication revolution” in which tools use the visual storytelling power of images to amplify messaging. The circle is completing with the addition of messaging to photo apps just as we saw the reverse as photos were added to messaging apps and messaging apps were being built around photo sharing.

Libraries pay attention because this arena is impacting reference. Kik has 100 million users (and just announced browser like 3rd party content cards), Snapchat users share 400 million photos a day, surpassing Facebook ( WhatsApp has seen 10 Billion messages sent in a single day. Instagram has been the example for mobile engagement: 25% “of U.S. smartphone owners used Instagram’s iOS and Android apps in October, according to Nielsen” And “more than half of Instagram users use it daily.”
This news represents the expansion of these trends to the mainstream – Facebook’s 1.2+ Billion strong ecosystem.

Libraries should look at this news as an outline of what is going on in mobile messaging. Many libraries will use Instagram Direct if they already engage Instagram or want to engage the now of messaging for reference.

- – Joe Murphy, Librarian

From → news, technology

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