Word bubbling through the web and social media is that come January Instagram will beginning selling your children’s photos! Scary! But stay with me . . .
In seminars and with clients I’ve been recommending that orgs and professionals play with Instagram. Literally the day Instagram’s daily users exceeded Twitter’s daily users I began saying that you “couldn’t ignore it.” But most of us are still trying to figure out what to do with an image-based social platform that has a nearly vertical growth curve.
In the last few days the news has been bouncing around that Instagram has new terms of service coming in mid-January that will give Instagram the right to sell your images . . . of particular concern: images of you’ve posted of your children. Well you can see why that might light people up.
I received a few emails of concern. And a couple of emails that, in my reading between the lines, were gloating a bit that I’d recommended something they had “known all along” was a bad, bad idea.
OK, first. In seminars and with clients, we always draw the distinction between digital content that you own and content that you don’t own. Someone I’ve read uses the phrase “own” versus “rent.” (I can’t remember who said that, so if you did, let me know and I’ll give you credit.)
Anyway, you don’t own anything on any social media platform. They do. And they can change the rules of the game and/or make your content on their site disappear. It’s just a rule of the game. They’re providing the platform and they own it. They can do what they want — whether you think it’s stupid or not.
Your website is yours (at least I hope you haven’t made any other arrangements). Your website is your base, your hub, your foundation, your mothership . . . social media rotates around it or feeds it . . . those tools connect to your content mothership (your website).
And you need to be prepared for any social media rules to change to the extent that you no longer want to use it. If Twitter does something stupid either by forcing a pay-for-use model or similar — walk away. Another new channel will form and grow and you can use the new one.
Remember social media is fluid and the social media users are fluid. Doesn’t that mean social media is a bad thing? Not really, it’s just a different thing. There are too many opportunities and too many of your donors (and future donors) on social media for you to ignore it. But you can’t think of social media like you think of your website: Social media is disposable like a zillion other tools and channels you use (direct mail, magazines, brochures, billboards, etc.). Never get too attached to any platform or tool. That’s a bad social media strategy; I’m not saying social media is bad.
So what are the takeaways?
First, on the Instagram Instastorm here’s something clarifying the issue (sorta). ***Editorial note: Late Wednesday 12/19, Instagram’s CEO said, “Instagram users own their content and Instagram does not claim any ownership rights over your photos. Nothing about this has changed.”***
Second, wait to worry (there’s even some good Bible on that). We have until mid-January. Don’t sweat it for now. Wrap up 2012 then sort out the complications of 2013. One of the things we may see play out is the power of the user to influence a bad choice. Instagram doesn’t want everyone to flee their platform, they need us. So we’ll see what happens.
Third, if you need a contingency plan now . . . look at Snapseed (app and desktop). I use it far more than Instagram. If Instagram does a dumb-thing, I’ll switch over to Snapseed 100% and I’ll be fine . . . because I’m posting images on Facebook and more importantly on our blog (which we own). You can do the same. You can see what I’m up to with visuals over on the Oneicity Facebook page.
Finally, PLEASE don’t think that because there’s this little storm over an Instagram thing that social media isn’t viable for you or that should you ignore the power of the visual. You have to think visual. Also, use this to remind important people about rented versus owned content. It’s usually worth it to have some rented or disposable content. But we all need to help everyone understand the differences and nuances.
What about you? I’d love to know what you’re hearing about this dust up and what your plans are. Send me a photo — I promise not to sell it to anyone.
(photo credit: Steve Thomas)
Find Steve on Instragram: oneicity_st