Facebook Inc had more than 1B users on its core site on Thursday for the first time, but Wall Street is more excited about what the firm can do with its non-core apps. On Friday the firm’s photo-based social network Instagram announced a major change. It’s showing what can be learned from Twitter Inc .
Putting limits on what a user can do is what made Twitter special, but it also appears to be a major hurdle for its growth. The firm, under Jack Dorsey, removed the 140-character limit it had on direct messages. Facebook Inc, through Instagram, appears to be learning a similar lesson.
Instagram is just like everyone else
Instagram revealed on Thursday afternoon that it would break its prohibition on landscape and portrait photos in a move to make the network simpler and more open to users, both new and old. The team, in a blog post on the change, said “we want to make it simple and fun for you to share moments just the way you want to.”
The key is to keep the clean gird structure that people love about the firm’s app, but also allow users to “capture the Golden Gate Bridge from end to end.” Landscape and portrait photos aren’t new and one in five photos put on the site are already in that format. What’s new is that Instagram is changing the rules to attract more users.
Instagram attracted users with its quirky, easy to view format and the special filters that it made available to be applied. Those filters made both photos and videos look better, at least in the opinion of users, and made the firm’s app one of the largest social networks in the world.
A recent Pew Research report on social networks showed that 28 percent of adult web users in the US use the photo sharing site. That made it the second biggest social network by user ahead of Twitter which had just 23 percent of US adults as users.
The Instagram update shows some similarity between the two networks, and it shows why limits may not be the best thing for a high-growth social network.
Facebook follows Twitter rule-breaking
Rules like keeping a limit on direct messages or the shape of images might be good for a start-up social network. They give users something different and a reason to prefer one network over another. Unique style is what put Instagram where it is today. In order to grow further it’s decided to be more like everyone else.
Twitter appears to have found the same thing. The firm’s rules and limits, as well as its difficult to understand interface, has cut its user growth. Facebook has learned from that. The social network for everything wants to make sure that Instagram doesn’t fall to the same folly.
Instagram is changing the rules in order to keep its user growth flowing, something, it could be argued, that Twitter should have done a long time ago. With ads soon loading up on Facebook’s image-based social network, that’s something those with shares will be excited about.