Custom Digital Marketing, Social & Interactive Media Consulting

What is Facebook?

Facebook is the largest social networking service in the game today. As of September 2012, Facebook has over one billion active users, more than half of them using Facebook on a mobile device. Users must register before using the site, after which they may create a personal profile, add other users as friends, and exchange messages, including automatic notifications when they update their profile. Additionally, users may join common-interest user groups, organized by workplace, school or college, or other characteristics, and categorize their friends into lists. In April 2012, Facebook (NASDAQ: FB) acquired Instagram, the photo-sharing service and social network for approximately $1 billion in cash and stock.
Definition in part from Wikipedia
Positive Points:

  • Self-identification -- fans choose to follow or like their favorite organizations, voluntarily identifying themselves as fans, in the same way that wearing a jersey or having a shopping club card identifies themselves as fans
  • Fan page administrators get a level of analytics -- number of fans added, comments, likes, visits -- through weekly reports [details about demographics, longer-term growth and engagement trends through the Insights feature]
  • Possible contest platform -- drive traffic to the Facebook or brand page, offering something more to those fans already engaged with your organization
  • Free to sign up and use
  • Largest social network by far with over 1 billion active users

Potential Pitfalls:

  • The immediacy -- Facebook raises the risk of posting something you come to regret
  • Behind every Facebook page is a human, and mistakes can happen
  • Individuals and organizations can find themselves in the crosshairs for posting something others view as 'questionable'
  • TMI syndrome - companies run the risk of employees sharing confidential information, trade secrets, intellectual property
  • Facebook's open nature -- you may be tagged in other's photos, posts and pages are linked to and preserved longer than anticipated
  • Concern by some over privacy issues -- Facebook is too large, has too much information, difficult/confusing to control privacy levels

What is Instagram?

Instagram is a free social network service built around the act of photo-sharing. Launched in October 2010, Instagram enables registered users to take a picture (using the camera on their mobile device), apply a digital filter to it, and share it across multiple social networks (including its own). Self-described as "allow(ing) you to experience moments in your friends' lives through pictures as they happen," Instagram began as an iOS-only (Apple) application, becoming available on Android devices in April 2012. Along with the digital filters (which Instagram describes as "transform(ing) the image into a memory to keep around forever"), a unique feature is that Instagram confines photos to a square shape, similar to Polaroid images. In April 2012, Instagram was acquired by Facebook for approximately $1 billion in cash and stock, with Facebook stating their plans to keep Instagram independently managed. In late 2012, Instagram rolled out profile pages on the web (similar to a Twitter or Facebook profile page). Users can follow other users, like and comment on photos, as well as edit their profile via the website (
Definition in part from Wikipedia, Instagram

Positive Points:

  • Free to sign up and use
  • Integration/cross-posting with Facebook and Twitter -- accounts users likely already have
  • Primarily, nearly exclusively, accessed via a mobile device - in line with the increasing shift of Internet use to mobile devices
  • Takes advantage of the overall shift of the Internet and iMedia toward increasing use of images -- why tell when you can show
  • Choice in privacy -- users can choose to make their account private (users must approve all follow requests before they are processed, users' photos/profile visible only to their followers)

Potential Pitfalls:

  • Concerns over privacy -- default setting is 'public' which allows any user to follow you and to see your photos and profile
  • Facebook association -- many have a negative perception of Facebook with its history of privacy and advertising issues
  • Shared photos link back to the posting on Instagram, rather than to your website
  • The Terms of Service controversy -- in December 2012, in what some saw as signs of Facebook influence, Instagram updated its Terms of Service, including language that was widely interpreted as allowing third parties the ability to pay Instagram to display users' photos and other details without any compensation or notification to the original user (after one day, the new Terms of Service were withdrawn to be rewritten following harsh criticism and threats of mass user exodus)