Tag Archives: Instagram

Is Instagram TooLateagram?

It seems a bit ironic that an iconic brand with “instant” in its name may be severely impacted in crisis response by offering “too little, too late.”  “Too late” is now the classic story of much crisis response and may well describe the latest attempt of Instagram co-founder and CEO Kevin Systrom to quell the storm and restore trust.

The good news is that he has come forward with the appropriate response regarding the attempt to change Terms of Service language to allow the photo-sharing service to sell users photos. His first attempt was weak at best: in it he said basically, legalese is hard for dummies like you to understand but you should know we never intended to sell your photos. Maybe you never intended it, but your lawyers made sure you had that right.

The second attempt is much better. Now Systrom says: “I want to be really clear: Instagram has no intention of selling your photos, and we never did. We don’t own your photos—you do.”  Again, he is saying “intention.” But the critical key is action. He removed the offensive new language and reinstated the old language related to advertising. That is the key.

Big lesson here–he kept talking about intentions, but the language allowed beyond what he said his intentions were. Actions speak louder than words. The only meaningful thing he did was to remove the silly and offensive language.

Systrom also has committed to engaging with his customers before doing something this crazy again. Good idea. I don’t know how many big brands will have to stumble and even fall before they realize we live in a different era than a few years ago. Bank of America, Verizon, the Gap, Komen Foundation, Netflix, even the US Congress all have had learn a painful lesson that we no longer live in a time of making decisions behind closed doors, no matter how rational those decisions seem to be. Basic business decisions that used to be the sole right of the C-suite and board to decide on now require consultation.

Now Instagram will be added to that list of those who had to learn that lesson painfully. Engage, folks, engage. Or potentially pay a high price. And, if you forget that lesson and fiind yourself facing the wrath of the digital lynchmob, for the sake of your future, take action instantly–not days later. Or you may be another “Tolateagram.”



Instagram–is this the dumbest move ever? (and it gets worse)

I’m following with interest the online hubbub over instagram. The short of it is Instagram, owned by Facebook, changed their Privacy Policy and Terms of Service to include their right to sell the images on Instagram to anyone without any compensation. Not sure if they were going to let you know first, or just sell them.

This is not sitting well with the digital lynch mob. I’ve already seen major organizations or industry groups sending emails out to their broad lists encouraging any Instagram account holders to immediately delete their accounts.

The hashtag #boycottinstagram is going nuts–info on how to delete existing photos and your account, and lots of folks saying “bye bye instagram.”

Checking instgrams twitter (13 million followers) they are clearly feverishly working because it says right now (1:30p PST) “We’ll have more to share soon.” I suspect they will, and I fully suspect the offensive language will be very quickly removed.

Some quick lessons before  this insta-crisis goes away:

– crises come and go so quickly these days that they may be over almost before most of the world wakes up to them
– as fast as they go, the damage likely will linger–I fully expect that Instagram will suffer from a loss of trust and lost accounts for a considerable time after they reverse this dumb policy
– Facebook will not escape this–the behemoth is likely too big to be hurt too bad by this and they may come out and say that while they own Instagram they did not approve this policy or something like that. Even with that, they will be hurt by perception of lack of oversight. I expect the damage to be slight, but any loss of trust with the digital lynch mob is pretty serious when you are in the online business.


Since part of this story is the speed of these online crises emerging, and the speed of response, I’m continuing to track this. I went back to their twitter and found this link to the blog: http://blog.instagram.com/post/38252135408/thank-you-and-were-listening

Frankly, I’m surprised and amazed at this. Yes, they say they are listening, but when you read it you get the idea they are saying–it’s not our fault you silly people don’t know how to read a legal agreement. But, we may modify some language to make it easier for you dummies to understand. Here’s what it says: Our intention in updating the terms was to communicate that we’d like to experiment with innovative advertising that feels appropriate on Instagram. Instead it was interpreted by many that we were going to sell your photos to others without any compensation. This is not true and it is our mistake that this language is confusing. To be clear: it is not our intention to sell your photos. We are working on updated language in the terms to make sure this is clear.

But, here is what their revised terms state: “To help us deliver interesting paid or sponsored content or promotions, you agree 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.”

Hmm, if that was their intention they may need to get a new lawyer. Or have some PR folks look over the legal agreement before publishing it.

My take–Instagram is digging a deeper hole. Like Netflix before, there was really only one way out of this. A very very fast response that said: Oops, we goofed. We’re sorry. We won’t sell your photos and won’t use your name, likeness or anything that belongs to you without your permission.”

Instead, they said: We’re listening, and we’ve decided you don’t know how to read legal documents. Instagram, you’re in trouble.

What’s your image and video plan?

Frequent visitors here may have noticed a recurring theme in the past months: the importance of videos and images as part of communications overall, but specifically here crisis communication. I’ve pointed out the stunning statistic from Cisco that says that in 2010 30% of internet time was spent watching video, but by 2013 that will 90%. We’re getting close to 2013 so we’ll see how that prediction turns out.

Right or wrong, online content is turning into video just as video (TV, films, family movies and the like) are found online. But, in a time when most crisis plans seem to be stuck in the Dan Rather and Walter Cronkite era of pumping out some snazzy press releases and doing a press conference or two, considering how video and photography fits into your crisis communication plan seems like three steps ahead. But it’s not.

Bill Salvin takes on this subject and does a great job of providing practical advice on why it is important and what kind of policies to put in place regarding images. (not sure I completely agree on the Instagram thing as I think this photo service now owned by Facebook is more about easy sharing than doctoring photos.)