There were a lot of mixed reactions in the market when Facebook bought Instagram for US $1 billion. Despite what people claim were or weren’t Facebook’s motivation to buy the photo-sharing app, one can’t help but wonder if photo-sharing apps are worth the hype they get, let alone the financial investment that goes into them.
Before the advent of Instagram, most of us relied on sharing photos via Picasa, Flickr and a lot other apps.
The psychology behind the success of photo sharing apps lies in the fact that ‘a picture speaks a thousand words’. Because we have come to appreciate digital communication more than real conversations, we have fallen deeply in love more with the visual language than copy and we want it to be quicker, faster and easy. So with say Picasa, one get’s to take their pictures without the worry that they are not a professional photographer, edit them easily with more than 30 editing tools and immediately share with friends on other social networking tools or via.
It is this need for instant bragging, to give others a glimpse into each others’ lives, connect with friends and families without saying a word and keeping tabs on others’ lives that will keep the hype around these apps going, and eventually help the app developers earn loads of money from them.
If a company was to take a picture of themselves helping in a community project, with only one by-line to explain the activity in the image, and send it all say their friends in their circle via Picasa – they create talkability.
Talkability is what companies are looking for to keep growing, to engage with their customers every day. So photo-sharing apps will eventually become marketing platforms for businesses/companies, which justifies the current investments going into them. For the companies that own these apps, for now it’s really about gaining traction for their apps.
One thing that most people seem to forget is that photo-sharing apps have created a platform where people can show off their talent and either make more money or build their careers.
Picasa has run so many competitions on their platform. Many people have been able to steer their careers into right direction by taking part in a competition and having been hired by companies who wouldn’t have looked at them under normal circumstances, surely they will keep frequenting the app and recommend others to use it. The more users that app has, the easier it will be for them in the future to run paid-for promotions.
In a world where every brand has a website and almost every entrepreneur has a blog, Picasa has created an easy way for people to embed their photos into their websites and blogs.
Now if that’s not serving some of the basic needs of the business community, I don’t know what is. Should Picasa, Flickr, Instagram or any other photo-sharing apps ask for minimal, even less than a dollar fee to continue this functionality, are users going to run away? Least likely, because as creatures of habit, we stick to what we know and have trusted over the years. Because these users will be paying next to nothing, that’s when the power of the large number of users will kick in, as the developers start to see the money trickle back into their pockets.