Blog Archives

Instagram Purchase Update

Check out the latest update on Facebook’s purchase of Instagram…The once $1 Billion deal is no longer valued the same since FB stock hasn’t been doing so hot, but $750 million bucks is still a nice chunk of change.

LA Times Article


Love Instagram and want to enter a #contest? Here are some options…

As we know, many brands and companies are utilizing Instagram to run contests that increase customer engagement and user awareness. These companies hope to motivate users to become involved with their brands, eventually leading to active followers and consumers. Many of the contest rules require users to become followers of the brand or company. Essentially, they have created another marketing channel that requires a lot less effort and capital than traditional marketing strategies. If you haven’t taken witness to these efforts, here are a few contests currently running:

1). Tilly’s:

This popular California lifestyle clothing company is currently running the “Instapick of the Month Contest.” To enter, follow @tillys and upload a photo that “represents who you are.” They are looking for creative photos with the hashtag #Tillysinstapick. Do you love free stuff? Every month Tilly’s will pick their favorite photo and send you a “surprise box of goodies.” As far as I can tell, they are not publicizing an end date for this contest, so you’ve got plenty of chances to win!


2). Free People:

If you love fashion, this is a contest for you. Clothing brand Free People is running a contest every Friday that asks users to upload a picture of themselves wearing the Free People brand. Each Friday, a winner will beselected among the photos hashtagged #fpcloset. The prize? No money or free merchandise involved – simply recognition. Free People will share your photo from their Instagram account. A perfect contest for Instagram users looking to gain “likes” and followers. This contest has only been running for two weeks and they also don’t mention an end date – get ready to upload on Friday!

3). Energizer:

The Energizer Instagram photo contest makes me think the company is taking advantage of the recent merge between Instagram and Facebook. For this contest,photos are not entered directly through the Instagram app. Instead, users must log into Facebook and like this page.  Then they must submit their Instagram picture to the same page. Energizer is looking for the “ultimate Instagram photo.” At that point, the public gets to vote for the best submission starting on June 4th. The grand prize is: $2000 cash, a Nikon Coolpix S6300, and Energizer Ultimate Lithium batteries. What an incentive! I’ve already entered.

4). National Geographic:

We know that NatGeo works closely with Instagram, consistently sharing their photos through @NatGeoChannel. Their team recently ran the Untamed Americas project, where they snapped pictures of mountains, deserts, coasts, and forests. Now they are asking users to upload photos that show what “Untamed Americas” means to them. All you need to do is follow @natgeochannels and hashtag your uploaded photo with #UntamedAmericas from now until June 18. At that point, three judges will select the best photo that will be featured on their website. In addition, the winner will receive an assortment of awesome prizes, including a Nikon D3100, a subscription to the National Geographic magazine, and a signed print by famous landscape photographer Cole Rise.

5). Spa Week and Insta-Mom:

There are just a few more days for this contest. Until May 31st, upload your Instagram photo that depicts what “mom” means to you. Follow @spaweek and hashtag your photo #spaweekmom. Spa Week is looking for creative and inspiring photos. The grand prize is a $300 Spa and Wellness gift card, and there are prizes for first and second place following the grand prize winner as well. And the good part is, you can enter as many photos as you’d like! If you’d love a day at the spa, get instagramming!


These contests are simple ways to win prizes and/or bragging rights. If you love Instagram and taking photos, entry is simple. Already entered these contests or have others you’ve found? Let us know!

FTC Investigates Facebook-Instagram Deal

Facebook’s purchase of Instagram made headlines due to Instagram’s $1 billion price tag.  Well the deal is not yet complete and the FTC has launched an investigation into the acquisition, seeking information from Google Inc. and Twitter. While the details are still unclear, it could be the FTC just following protocol, as they usually launch investigations of significant deals. There is no doubt this deal is significant.

Do you think the investigation is just routine?

InstaCompetition Continues

As buzz around Instagram and social sharing networks continues to build, competitors become increasingly relevant. Here we’ll take a look at the competitors in an in-depth extension of an earlier post.

Hipster –Camera and filters like Instagram, but rectangular. To these, users can add locations and comments, creating postcards. The app will also add the location automatically through GPS. Some reviews mention issues with glitches when certain filters are chosen. The concept of the application is very cool, and I personally enjoy using it. I haven’t had any issues yet, but hopefully the app can get the issues worked out.

  • As of Jan 19th, 2012 the app had 100,000 users (1).
  • From GooglePlay site: Rated 3.7/5 (203 ratings).
  • 10,000-50,000 downloads from the Android market in the last 30 days.

Hipster Postcard

Picplz – an app much like Instagram, with camera filters and a built in social network. The meme creator function is a nice feature. Many people love the app, but have been experiencing problems with updates.

  • 40,000 Monthly Active Users through Facebook (2)
  • From GooglePlay site: Rated 4.0/5 (8,346 ratings)
  • 1M-5M installs from the Android market in the last 30 days


EyeEm – Groups photos based on categories – locations, what you are doing, a certain type of food, etc. – much like hashtags. This idea makes it easier to find new friends or followers. Many reviewers are requesting Google + integration, which could say something about user demographics. Some comments about glitches, but overall the app seems to perform smoothly.

  • 20,000 MAU through Facebook (3)
  • From GooglePlay site: Rated 4.0/5 (388 ratings)
  • 10,000-50,000 downloads from Android market in the last 30 days.


PicYou – an Instagram-like app that boasts itself as exclusively for the iPhone. However, the reviews displayed on the App store site are negative. Someone actually recommends Instagram over the app, and another calls the app “really lame.”  With 100,00 monthly active users through Facebook vs. 17 million on Instagram, I believe much of this negative sentiment comes from the fact that the social network is so much smaller than Instagram’s.
Overall, it seems that PicYou doesn’t really offer any additional services compared to Instagram.

  • 100,000 MAU through Facebook (4)
  • Rated 3.5/5 (353 ratings) on the Apple app store.


Path – a “smart journal that lets you share your life with the ones you love.” (5)The app is designed for use between close friends, and it limits the number of friends to 150. However, you can still upload photos through Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare and Tumblr. An interesting feature – users can respond to moments with one of five emotions: smile, frown, gasp, laugh and love. The reviews for the app are extremely positive, with a larger fan base than most that is actively growing. The application offers an interface that is described as “beautiful” and “snazzy and sleek” in most recent reviews.

  • 570,000 Monthly Active Users through Facebook alone (6)
  • From GooglePlay site: Rated 4.2/5 (11,467 ratings)
  • 500,000-1M installs from Android market in the last 30 days


To put it all in perspective, here is a quick summary on Instagram. The comments in the Apple store state that the app is “better than Facebook” and “this is the best app ever I LOVE THIS APP.” The reviews on GooglePlay are just as good. I suppose there is something to be said for a streamlined experience and a massive social network.

  • 17 million Monthly Active Users through Facebook alone, and 40 million overall (App data, reference old post)
  • From GooglePlay site, Rated 4.6/5 (601,428 ratings)
  • 10M-50M Android installs in the last 30 days
  • From the Apple store site, Rated 5/5 (537,624 ratings)

Instagram – Red Bull Photo Contest Winner

Have you ever used these competitor apps? 

Viddy – Insta….Video?

The iPhone app of the week, Viddy, is gaining popularity among creators and users of mobile media. Available for iPhone currently, and possibly other platforms later, the application is much like Instagram, but with videos.

Viddy Effects Screen

According to the Viddy website, “Viddy is a simple way for anyone to capture, produce, and share beautiful videos with the world. Record a moment of your life, give it that cinematic look with our production packs, and share it with those who matter most.” The application allows users to take a video, trim the video, and add effects. The videos can then be uploaded to Viddy’s online site, or to Facebook and Viddy has received media coverage this week due to a recent high-profile joiner, Mark Zuckerberg. Though he only has one video as of Monday, he has thousands of followers. The reasons he states for joining are reminiscent of his response when he joined Pinterest. Zuckerberg has a presence on many social media sites, such as Google+ and Twitter. However, his membership and use does speak volumes for the rising interest in the app, and has served to build buzz around Viddy.

As of Monday, the app had 16 million users, adding 500,000 news users a day. On Viddy’s first year anniversary, April 11th, they had just passed 4 million users. The app is also partnering with Facebook, and integrated their mobile video service into FB’s new Timeline. Though many app developers have been utilizing the Facebook mobile platform and their Timeline switchover, Viddy stands out. After launching their Timeline app in February, Viddy went from 60,000 active users to over 1.7 million. In addition, there have been more than 15 million interactions with Viddy content on Facebook since Viddy launched its Timeline app.

Viddy vs. Instagram

Viddy has consistently been called the Instagram of videos, but why? The picture on the left shows a direct comparison between the home screens of both apps. The layouts of both screens are almost identical, particularly the buttons along the bottom. The concept is the same as Instagram, but with videos (perhaps upping the ante on self-expression and creativity?).

In addition, the rising popularity of Viddy offers similar marketing incentives as those provided through Instagram. Viddy can be used for interaction, to allow users to make commercials, to hold contests, etc. In the world of social media and Internet marketing, Viddy is something to keep your eye on.

Have you ever heard of Viddy?


Instagram has swept away Internet and mobile users into a world of filtered photos, with a heart as a “like” button. Comments are not as widely used and instead, viewing is king. Take and edit a photo, post it, scroll through others photos, scroll, see how many people liked your photo, then scroll some more; the idea is simple. But as with all basic and useful ideas, popularity spread, and imitators have emerged. Now that some users have turned up their noses at Instagram due to the Facebook takeover, where will they turn for photosharing?

Some of the new apps have photosharing (a social network) built-in, such as:

Hipster – the same concept as Instagram but with rectangular photos. To these, users can add locations and comments, basically creating postcards.

Picplz – a social photography app with a sophisticated editing program, even features a function to make memes out of your photos.

EyeEm – groups shared photos by categories such as coffee, New York, etc.

PicYou – an Instagram-like app that boasts itself as exclusively for the iPhone.

Jittergram – allows you to create a 3D-like image, called a stereogram or stereograph.

Path – an Android app called a “smart journal that lets you share your life with the ones you love.”

Other competitors take exclusively from the editing aspect of the application, offering only filters and photo editing. Some examples of these are Camera Awesome, Pixlr-O-Matic, CamWow, Camera+, Hipstamatic, and Retro Camera Plus. Though these apps do not have the social network built-in, the photos can be exported to other social photosharing apps, as well as Facebook, Twitter, blogs, etc. Hipstamatic even went so far as to forge a partnership with Instagram this March, granting users the ability to upload their Hipstamatic photos directly to their Instagrams.

Despite the failure of these competitors to reach the entire market of photosharers, some because they haven’t had the chance, and others because they decide not to (iPhone-only Apps), the recent acquisition of Instagram has pushed customers to look for alternatives. According to a recent article by Franzen, the Facebook acquisition had an extremely positive effect on PicYou downloads; and PicYou is not embarrassed to admit to the hope that users would consciously switch to their app because of the takeover.

Though competitors have seen and apparently seized their opportunity, it is hard to imagine any of these single apps rising above the intense popularity and streamlined experience provided by Instagram. Many competitor apps lack a social network, the driving force behind Instagram’s growth. The 40 million users of Instagram share their filtered photos with the online and mobile app, providing a rich network of followers, those who are followed, personal comments and clicked hearts. As Instagram builds additional partnerships and perhaps as Facebook initiates takeovers, the app will continue to dominate. The rich social network provided by the application is exclusive to Instagram. Users can login directly through Facebook, making it very easy to find other users you know and might want to follow, the very first time you use the app.

As with all social media applications, larger numbers of users contributes heavily to the value and enjoyment of Instagram. As a result, competitor apps much catch up in user numbers and the number of posts before they can dream of Instagram-like success.

Sources: 123

Facebook Takeover of Instagram: The Right Decision?

As is well known, Instagram has been bought by Facebook. But the following are specifics that you most likely don’t know or haven’t thought about.

  1. This deal was worked out over a long weekend (roughly 3 days) between CEO Zuckerberg (Facebook) and Kevin Systrom
  2. The CEO’s  are both under 30 and this deal is one of the largest in recent history
  3. Facebook is set to go public and is estimated to be worth around 100 billion, so roughly 1 percent of net worth has been spent on this takeover
  4. Systrom’s initial offering price was around $2 billion according to sources
  5. Analysts valued Instagram around $500 million
  6. Instagram currently has around 40 million users
  7. This type of deal would only be possible in non-publicly held companies and could be viewed as Zuckerberg’s last impulse purchase decision, before the IPO

Let’s take a look at the above and see about more of an in-depth review of these issues.

First, the power of these two young players is incredible being that they are both in charge of privately held companies. With the technology boom there appears to be a shift in authority to the younger and more tech savvy generation. This type of purchase is considered risky and unorthodox by many investors and by the book analysts. It almost seems that Zuckerberg is acting through paranoia and desire to eliminate any potential competitor, when ultimately, Facebook may have simply been able to out compete Instagram. Think about this, one billion was paid for a company that to this date did not have any revenue and only 13 employees. That is 76.9 Million for each employee if you do the math evenly, sounds a little high for what it is, don’t you think?

Secondly, there are plenty of other photo upload apps that are on the market. Is Facebook’s strategy to try to buy up and eliminate all competitors? This will only encourage more new companies to form to compete for this market and a share of Facebooks deep pockets. Where is the competitive advantage development of one of the world’s most successful companies, where are Facebooks strengths and abilities to outsmart, out develop and out compete? I would like to take a moment to reference one of the greatest strategic thinkers of our time, Michael Porter “Eliminating Rivals is a risky strategy. A profit windfall from removing today’s competitors often attracts new competitors and backlash from customers and suppliers” I believe this accurately portrays that this will entice others to join the photo uploading, social media competition market.

Lastly, the motives behind the deal need to be investigated, such as:  was instagram really a threat? Business Insider argued that Instagram was Facebook’s biggest threat and that Facebook could eventually lose out to Instagram because of Instagram’s ease of use through the mobile devices. As more and more users access the internet and social media websites through their phones, they want to be able to upload and view photos easily. One way that the article outlines the ease of use of Instagram is the sheer number of screens that are used vs. Facebooks number, Instagram users need to only access one screen, where Facebook users need to use six and the load time is slower. This article is missing a major factor in a consumer’s decision to abandon and move to a new social media/photo sharing website. They are completely ignoring switching costs. The specific cost of switching from Facebook to Instagram is the rebuilding of your friend lists as not all Facebook users have Instagram. We each remember the annoyance of creating a Linked-In profile and connections when we already had a Facebook page and friend database collected, but we did it because the purpose and intent are different. Facebook and Instagrams purpose and intent are the same, and there is no reason that Facebook couldn’t have developed better mobile updates to limit the amount of screens to go through.  Facebook could also add easy photo editing options without having to buy out a competitor that would not have been a long run threat with some small tweaks to the already existing Facebook mobile application.

Ultimately, a quick search of the internet will reveal many articles that completely disagree with my assessment above and state instead, that the acquisition was a bold and intelligent move that will eliminate a very real threat to Facebook. The logic is the same as mentioned above as well as the platform being created for mobile users and not for desktops or laptops. But the common thing that these articles are assuming is that Facebook would not have strategically adapted to out compete these smaller businesses. I think the acquisition was an easy way out of having to creatively solve the problem, but again, thats just my opinion.

Sources: 1, 2, 3