Facebook has recently acquired the mobile photo sharing application Instagram for a record $1 billion dollars, which has left many commentators scratching their heads as to why the price tag was so high. Clearly this decision was not made on a whim by Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, but possibly indicates that the leading social networking site plans to take on a new direction, and mobile photo sharing is part of the plan.
According to figures, Facebook users are increasingly accessing the site and making use of its features via mobile devices and in a public statement Facebook admitted that it needs to build its mobile strategy. Instagram already has a large user base of over 25 million worldwide, making it the largest social network on the mobile platform. However, even though Instagram has great online success, it is a relatively small company with only thirteen employees and currently has no incoming revenue. Facebook’s real interest in Instragram is its photo sharing capabilities, which highlights the significance of photo sharing in the online social experience, something that Facebook hopes to capitalise on.
One of the primary functions of Facebook is uploading and sharing photos and in acquiring the popular Instagram the social networking site will be able to evolve its mobile products. It may also provide a vehicle for Facebook to incorporate high impact advertisements into its mobile platform. For example targeted brand ads could be embedded into the Instagram photo stream by using the targeted marketing capabilities and consumer information of Facebook.
User migration to mobile as well as Facebook’s appropriate response to the trend is sending signals to online marketers. Consumers are increasingly spending more time on mobile devices and marketing efforts need to reflect this. Furthermore, according to Flurry Analytics mobile apps are growing in popularity with web users, who are spending more time using apps than surfing the Web. Large brands are already using apps like Instagram for marketing purposes, for example Coca-Cola, Gap and Glamour Magazine have all used Instagram to showcase products, give users a feel for the brand culture and allow for two-way communication. Overall, the mobile migration should not be ignored and online marketers and search engine optimisation specialists need to consider how to target consumers, rank mobile sites and market branded apps.