How to Be Instagram

Originally posted at All Things WOM.

What makes Instagram so special? Lately, it seems that every social network wants to be them. Ever since Facebook purchased the photo-based network in April 2012, interest in mobile social photo sharing has never been higher. Last month, both Twitter and Flickr announced new mobile apps, coincidentally both offering filter functionality very similar to that of Instagram.

What’s going on here? Can’t we all just be friends? It seems that Twitter and Flickr are experiencing some serious Instagram envy. But what makes Instagram so special? Is it the filters? Or is there something more to it?

I would argue that what gives Instagram its charm is the close-knit engaged community. Anyone can express themselves and give a literal snapshot of their life experiences and add a little flair through the use of filters. But filters alone do not separate Instagram. Without the engagement of Instagram’s unique community of photographers, artists, and other explorers, just adding filters to an existing photo sharing app is meaningless. Even when Facebook launched their own Camera app featuring filters, I personally didn’t feel compelled to leave Instagram behind. Posting filtered photos directly to Facebook is nice, but I can post them to Instagram, enjoy the camaraderie of that community, and still cross-post to Facebook.

The basic message here is this: Twitter and Flickr trying to branch out and add filters is a classic case of showing your hand. They see that users want a photo sharing app that will let them filter and edit photos on the go. To be bad Instagram beat them to it.

Do you think Twitter and Flickr will be able to catch up to Instagram on their visual side? Leave a comment below or tweet @FrankRamblings.

Frank Emanuele

I’m a proud Catholic, social media nerd, podcaster, musician, blogger, New Yorker & Community Manager at Likeable Media. I’m all about Superman, Star Wars & the Beatles! I love to express myself in the written word. There’s nothing quite like reading your ideas on a page (or screen, as the case may be) and knowing that others are reading those ideas and thinking about them. Please read, comment, and most importantly, enjoy! The content and opinions represented in this blog represent my personal views and not the views of my employer. For more info, visit