Gini Dietrich

Three Reasons Facebook Camera Will Work

By: Gini Dietrich | May 29, 2012 | 

Just a few short weeks after Facebook bought Instagram for $1 billion, the social network has released its own mobile photo sharing app, aptly called Facebook Camera.

It reportedly is just like Instagram, but with a few improvements: It allows full-bleed photos, you can comment and “like” right from the app (instead of going into the Facebook app), it has a few filters, and it moves much faster than the Facebook mobile app.

The Billion Dollar Question

But why build a photo-sharing app when you just dropped a ton of cash on one last month?

It turns out the Instagram deal isn’t quite finished. The FTC is probing the purchase because of competitive reasons. They’re looking into what Instagram could have accomplished on its own and whether or not the deal will hurt competitors, giving Facebook the monopoly in mobile photo-sharing.

They also were likely already working on the Facebook Camera, when Instagram was acquired.

In fact, Facebook Photos product manager, Dirk Stoop confirms, “Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom and his team had nothing to do with building Facebook Camera.”

But the Real Reason

But neither of those are the real reason Facebook went ahead and launched its own mobile photo-sharing app.

Instagram has more than 50 million users, which is great for Facebook. But they have nearly a billion users. And getting those not using Instagram to use the app is likely not a worthwhile venture.

It also means the current Instagram users won’t switch to Facebook Camera (let’s be real; it’s just not as cool).

It’s Not for You or Me

If you’re already an Instagram user, don’t bother with Facebook Camera. It’s not for us.

It’s for the Facebook user who isn’t a social media or technology geek. It’s for the 950 million Facebook users who don’t need another social network nor have the time to download Instagram, attach it to several social networks, begin to build a community there, and flip the photos over to Facebook.

It’s for the Facebook user who is moving away from his or her desktop connection to the phone, to share life’s little moments every day.

I wish I could remember who said it, but somewhere on Facebook this past weekend, a friend’s status said, “Isn’t it funny how we used to avoid our friend’s slideshows after a vacation and now we hungrily search out those photos?”

Things are changing. Mobile is where it’s at. And, rather than try to force 950 million people to use Instagram, why not give them something already incorporated into the social network they’re accustomed to using?

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro. Join the Spin Sucks   community!

  • Yeah, it’ll work… And hopefully it will draw the teenage girls who post pictures of their fingernails and jailbait shots in bikinis away from instagram! The FB cam will probably be more of a social picture site for stuff like that, rather that the artsy photos on IG.

    Now a quick call out… You say that you’re on instagram, but it’s not like you actually use it more than 4x a year 😛

    •  @SociallyGenius I use it every day. I just don’t connect anything to it. If I want something to go online, I do it manually. I take a lot of shots that don’t turn out so well, so they just sit in my account. 

      • @ginidietrich do you have two IG accounts? Or do you mean they just sit on your camera? Last pic saw posted was 2 weeks ago 🙂

        •  @SociallyGenius  They just sit on my camera in my Instagram app.

  • If I was Instagram I would sabotage the deal and get bought by Apple or Google. Especially since 70% of the deal with in Facebook shares and we know where they are going.
    The one issue I have with all the photo apps is the sharing. I upload a lot of photos to twitter of places and food but rarely of people and never the place I live. because when i upload everyone sees. Same with facebook I stopped adding photos for the most part because often I just have a few people I want to see them and not my whole network.. And when I see instagram uploads on twitter usually it is places and food. So curious if camera will have any privacy controls (i assume not since it is facebook?)
    On a positive note about time Facebook spent some time to improve the user experience vs the brand experience.

    •  @HowieSPM Yes, I’m aware. I joke with shonali that we’re your Facebook because you send the photos to us instead!

      •  @ginidietrich  until camera Facebook really was trying to be the ‘Place you come to spend time with the Brands you really love’ vs ‘the place you come to spend time with the people you really love’

        •  @HowieSPM I actually love being your personal Facebook along with @ginidietrich and a few select others. However, you could also create a list on Facebook for just those people and share those photos only with that list.. no? That, of course, depends on whether or not you like FB enough to do that. Personally, I’m quite happy to get them from you privately!

        •  @Shonali I always wonder about whether the privacy controls on FB work as they should.

        •  @TheJackB  @Shonali Unless you know what you’re doing, I mean REALLY know what you’re doing, the privacy doesn’t work.

    • rustyspeidel

       @HowieSPM @ginidietrich Is it just me, or is Facebook starting to feel like Groupon just a little? Seems like there’s a little bit of shark jumping going on…

      •  @rustyspeidel  @HowieSPM I don’t think so. They know two things: People use Facebook to share photos. LOTS of photos. And they also know there is a TON of data that can mined in those photos. It sounds like they were working on a camera app before Instagram…now they’re folding that talent into what they already have.

        •  @ginidietrich  @rustyspeidel if facebook was smart they would sell the data they mine. Since their ads have such a lower click through rate they surely have no clue about using the data themselves. They should also think about real banner ads. I think their format is poor. At least get an …ack..Impression if not a click through.

        •  @HowieSPM  @rustyspeidel As a marketer, I really, really wish they would sell the data!

  • If you say so, I’m gonna have to trust you on this one……………… 
    And yes, the Cubbies are rebuilding; I’m glad they didn’t stick Ryan Sandberg with that task, there was very little upside for him to try and have any success this year. 

  • One reason Facebook Camera will not work – the FB experience on mobile as it stands is shit on all platforms. Until they sort that out, they’ll continue to struggle. 

    •  @DannyBrown The Camera is a different mobile app. The interview I read with Stoop said they’re completely operating separately and they hope the FB mobile app will follow suit. Plus have you tried it? It’s soooooo easy. 

      •  @ginidietrich No – I’m on Android. The key for me here is “Stoop hope the FB mobile app will follow suit”. Going by current status and failings, I won’t hold my breath.

        •  @DannyBrown Right. That’s why I think Camera will work, even if their mobile app fails.

  • DonovanGroupInc

    Thanks for the overview BFF – was noodling the pros and cons here so your points are well taken.  And of course when you get feedback like “the FB experience on mobile as it stands is shit on all platforms”…from Danny Brown well what more does one need to make up their mind?  LOL 

    •  @DonovanGroupInc For someone like you, it’s worth downloading the app to see what you think.

      • DonovanGroupInc

         @ginidietrich Absolutely – sorry just having a little fun with you and Danny…definitely worth checking out especially since you’ve never steered me wrong yet BFF.  🙂

  • nateriggs

    I think you’re dead on with your thinking, Gini.  People already using Instagram will most likely stay there in that it delivers, and it also offers integration with other services that the early adopter crowd will have a desire to use (Tumblr, Twitter, Foursquare).  
    That said, everyone else on Facebook could probably care less about this apps. They’re not nerds, but ‘everyday’ Facebook users. For those folks, this app is an attractive alternative. The kicker will be in how Facebook decides to roll it out to the existing user base. I feel like they’ve never been very good at getting their own apps in front of the user base.  Will be interesting to see their next move, and if the investigation scares them into litigation paralysis for a few weeks…

    • TheModernElixir

       @nateriggs I couldn’t agree with you more on who will be using the new app. I’m an ‘everyday’ user. I don’t have Instagram- and probably never will. That’s not what I do with my pics. In fact, any pic I take on my phone usually goes directly to fb. When I want to pretend I’m a photographer, I use a real camera- then don’t do anything with them ;).

      •  @TheModernElixir  @nateriggs It sounds like they did this for the Facebook everyday user. They know they can’t get 950 million people over to Instagram – it’s just one more thing. But they can get them using this app. It will be interesting to see what happens, especially with the IPO lawsuits.

  • geoffliving

    Actually, the addition of the Camera app actually caused me to delete the main Facebook app. My primary purpose in keeping the Facebook app — which has a God awful UX as you have noted here before.  I think the Camera app let’s me publish photos without dealing with Facebook’s nightmare interface and that’s a plus, plus.  In addition, when I publish photos on Instagram over to Facebook, the Timeline integration doesn’t trigger the deep notifications that a native Facebook photo post does. I don’t care what people say about this, I have posted a photo on Instagram, seen no likes, unlisted it from Timeline (still keeping it in the stream, then posted the very same photo directly to Facebook and watched it go gonzo. 
    My $.02 for you.

    • nateriggs

       @geoffliving That’s a really interesting thought, Geoff.  I HATE the clunkiness (if that’s a word) of the current FB mobile app.  What I do love is how the timeline photos are now displayed. Downloading the camera app now and may take your recommendation to heart on this…

    •  @geoffliving Huh. I’m going to test this out. That’s kind of crazy!

  • I think they both have a place. The Facebook mobile app allows all of us who want to easily post our photos from anything, perhaps a conference, family vacation etc., seamlessly to Facebook (finally). I think Instagram though is different in that it’s meant for more artistic photos and I don’t think people necessarily care as much about sharing these with grandma or garnering comments from friends. It’s a more artistic view of the world. Although how people use it varies, this is just my personal take. My sister has a rule for Instagram – no staged pictures of people. In saying that, I think there’s value in both the more user friendly photo app for Facebook, which enables us to share our “family photo album” more easily and then Instagram, which serves a more creative purpose as an outlet for sharing more artistic photos of your life or things that inspire you. 

    •  @rachaelseda See, I see it differently. I think Instagram is for those already using it (and I use it for all photos – even the posed ones) and Facebook Camera is for everyone else. 

  • There was a great article on RWW after Facebook bought instagram on how it was all about the data. When people post through instagram they are capturing all sorts of meta data around location, timing, and very precise info. When someone posts to Facebook through instagram Facebook misses out on that data – which means missed opportunity to have more targeted ads and to know more about each individual. Of course Facebook wants a piece of that pie – with or without the acquisition.

    •  @jennalanger Now I wish they’d sell that piece of the pie! I’d LOVE to get my hands on some of that data so we’re smarter about how to market to our client’s customers!

  • I have a few contact that was formally with PostRank, the great service recently killed off by google (sniff!) after purchase.  I was told that what google bought with PostRank wasn’t the technology, but the talent.  I think that may be what is going on with instagram, at least in part.  
    Just like google+ (and what I consider its failure so far) the proof for facebook is always in the integration of all these kewl toys.  A seamless one-stop shop for “appliance users” is always going to have a place advantage over leading-edge stuff with too many options that appeals to the cool kids – it’s a different, and much bigger market.

    •  @wabbitoid I agreed with you when the Instagram purchase went through, but I’m seeing more and more of their autonomy so I’m not so sure anymore…

  • jenzings

    I believe the person with the quote about slideshows/FB photos was Barbara Nixon–it struck me too!
    I agree with you that a lot of Facebook’s interactive activity is around photos (it’s also where, with facial recognition, some problems for privacy could re-emerge). It makes sense for them to go this direction, I just hope that they are smart about it and don’t have scanning technology that turns into “did you ‘like’ Lindsey’s wedding dress? Buy it here! <link>” etc.

    •  @jenzings I actually think it would be really smart if they do create a link for you to buy whatever your friends are buying, watching, reading. I saw Men In Black III on Saturday. If I posted how much I loved it on FB, I’m willing to bet 20 or so friends would immediately buy tickets if they had a link to do so from my status update. Maybe that’s part of sponsored stories…but I think it’d be smart for them to do it.

  • Excellent points, all.

  • I guess one year from now FB will cry thinking of having paid all that money for Instagram. The IPO isn’t going that well right?
    But probably they developed FaceBook Camera because their 950 millions users are not interested in Instagram which brings back to why they bought it. Probably this is business intelligence too deep for me. 🙂

    •  @Andrea T. H. W. LOL!! I guess only time will tell. 

  • rdopping

    Yeah, and it works on Android (unlike Instagram, duh) for all the iPeople out there that are not part of the iJobs cult (ure). Of course, I am being an iAss. @DannyBrown is so right. The FB app alone on Android is very cumbersome. Me no likee…..
    BTW, I “lost” my smartphone so I need a new one. Anyone like the Samsung Note?

    •  @rdopping  Um, Instagram is now available on the Android. Welcome to 2012.

  • You can definitely tell that Instagram had nothing to do with Facebook Camera…it’s pretty terrible. Mobile apps just aren’t their game. If and when Facebook closes Instagram, I will not be a happy camper!

    •  @brittanybotti They keep claiming they won’t do that. If they do, though, one has to hope they use the Instagram model for the mobile app.