More than three months have gone by since Instagram ended their support for Twitter cards, yet the Internet is still full of complaints about how much trouble it is to get your Instagrams tweeted now. People are really upset about this, with many labeling the change as “tragic.”
Things were fine in the Twitterverse until early in December 2012. Until that time, it was possible for Twitter users to view Instagrams on Twitter, without leaving the platform. This ability was due to Twitter’s content cards, which were very media-friendly, making them the perfect way to share Instagram photos on Twitter. Then, the unthinkable happened–Facebook acquired Instagram and changed everything. No longer could you view Instagram photos within Twitter. Instead, you had to click an outbound link on Twitter to go to Instagram itself to view a photo….a task many Twitter users felt was just too complex. Yes, you could still technically share Instagram photos with your Twitter followers, the process of doing so became much more cumbersome.
This change was just part of the growing war between Facebook and Twitter. It is not really an Instagram vs. Twitter thing, since Facebook now owns Instagram, making the companies one and the same, much as eBay and PayPal are now one and the same (since eBay bought PayPal years ago). Users of Twitter and Instagram are suffering the most because of this rivalry, not the companies involved. In fact, in days past, Twitter and Instagram were quite friendly with each other. One of Twitter’s co-founders was an early supporter of Instagram, so it seemed natural that the two companies should interact easily with one another, and they did, until the Facebook acquisition. Now, Twitter and Instagram, via Facebook, are competitors. Twitter did add a native photo-filtering tool to its many features once Instagram ended its card support, but to most users, it just wasn’t the same.
Lots of people predicted the move by Instagram to end card support would not only hurt users, and would hurt both companies, as well. A quick look at current trends on Twitter and Instagram show this to be untrue. The move seems to only be hurting Twitter. People are sharing far fewer photos on Twitter now than before the card support ended. Brands, in particular, are not sharing as many photos on Twitter as before. But photo sharing by brands and brand activity in general has increased on both Instagram and Facebook since the change.
So brand engagement with consumers is up on Instagram, making Instagram an important aspect of any marketing campaign, as social media users are going there far more often to view photos than they are going to Twitter now. Facebook engagement is up, as well. However, this does not mean Twitter is obsolete for brands. Twitter still plays an important part in any brand’s marketing campaign, since it is still a popular site for engagement via conversations.
Brands can upload photos directly to Twitter using Twitter’s new photo platform, and can rely on Instagram strictly for uploading photos to Facebook. This will give users a better overall experience with a brand on both platforms. Plus, brands should keep an eye on what Twitter is doing, because the company is aware of the migration of photo viewers to Instagram, and is undoubtedly looking for better, more permanent solutions to that than their current photo tool, in their ongoing efforts to make Twitter a user-friendly place for everyone.