Instagram aka Facebook Are You Trying to Go the Way of MySpace?

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Did you hear Instagram's news this week?  One of the top stories this week in social media management on Monday was the news released by this Facebook-owned app regarding their revised terms of service (TOS).

In the biggest change to its terms since Facebook acquired Instagram this summer, their revised terms stated:

…that a business or other entity may pay us to display your username, likeness, photos (along with any associated metadata), and/or actions you take, in connection with paid or sponsored content or promotions, without any compensation to you…

So translated, Instagram has said that by using its service and agreeing to its terms, you've explicitly agreed to let them sell your username, profile picture, and your photos (along with any associated bits of metadata related to them), and any engagement on the site, without having to compensate you.

Naturally, the uproar was pretty fast and furious!

Users took to many platforms to voice their frustration.  Many users created text image manifestos on apps like Textgram and posted them to their Instagram accounts. 

It sparked a new trending topic:  #boycottInstagram.  Users were deleting accounts (and vowing to delete accounts) and recommending that their friends do likewise. 

To add to the furor, various tech writers started coming down on those expressing outrage. 



 And this further insult of Instagram users found on


What takeaways can YOU learn from Instagram's TOS revision, its reaction to the uproar, and the reaction of tech writers around the web? 

1.     Know your audience. 

It seems obvious, right?  But let's look at this.  When Instagram started, it was framed (so to speak) as the "artistic" social media network. Given its emphasis on telling a visual story with great photographs, photographers flocked to this service.  So by rewriting its terms to essentially position Instagram as a stock photo site – without compensating the photographers, they basically insulted the very people they'd courted all along.  In case you're new to customer service – this isn't the recommended way to provide your customers with a great experience.  Just sayin'  <grin>

2.     Don't insult your audience.  Or anyone else. 

Again – we're talking about simple good manners.  Unless you're always snarky, your audience knows your always snarky, and you don't care about losing your audience by insulting them or anyone they love, don't use your blog to openly insult people!  Seriously!  Especially during the height of an emotionally charged moment.  All it will do is make you look insensitive, rude, and less of a person.  It will very likely backfire, and the loser will be you.

3.     When you mess up, respond quickly, transparently, and authentically. 

In good ol' social media fiasco response style, Instagram started to backpedal on their announcement, and late during the day on Tuesday, December 18, company officials announced they would remove the language from the Instagram terms that caused the outrage.

But the response didn't necessarily sound sincere initially.  It was framed in an "of course we didn't mean that…" in a way that seemed trite.  (Any company with well paid lawyers to craft terms of service can figure out what a sentence like that one meant, and knew what it meant, before it was posted.)  When you do something that causes a backlash among your customers, it's time to apologize honestly – at least if you want to stay in business long term.

Companies that create policies and terms without reflecting on who their customers are, companies that openly insult a large number of their users, and companies that sound insincere in the wake of an "incident," are looking to go the way of the dinosaur – or MySpace.  Just sayin'!

What are your thoughts on the Instagram uproar this week?  Will you be continuing to use it or pulling your account?  Leave me a comment below – would love to hear from you!

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