Instagram and the square format
Created by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, Instagram was launched in October 2010 as a free mobile app. With 300 million active users today, it has grown rapidly. In direct competition with Instagram is Snapchat, which has 100 million daily active users. The recent news going around is: Instagram loses square format. Why did they choose to do this now?
Losing the square format restriction will encourage many users to be even more active on Instagram and others who may have completely abandoned Instagram, to return. There were entire apps dedicated to sizing your images before uploading. Instead of having to use third party software to crop your images to rectangles you can now do it directly from Instagram. According to Instagram, more than 20% of images uploaded aren’t in the square format.
It’s actually fairly easy to ditch the square with the new update. When uploading photos there’s a new icon that allows you to upload the entire photo and not just a cropped square version (as seen above in first image). Your profile will still show images in squares but once you tap them you’ll see the rectangle format.
As a photographer I know how hard the square format can be to master. Only a few have really mastered it like Lee Friedlander. The square restriction being removed is a relief for many, including myself. I love rectangle formats, especially since I learned photography with traditional 35mm, 4×5 and 8×10 film cameras.
Why did they think, “One size fits all”?
So the question remains why did Instagram only offer the square format? The app’s icon says it all. Remember Polaroid and Instamatic cameras? Those images were only available in square format. This is the branding that Instagram went and has gone with for almost 5 years. Now with other apps coming out they have to adjust to stay relevant. Just like when Facebook was losing popularity, they introduced Facebook for Business and stayed relevant. In fact Facebook has over 1.4 billion active users today.
Nonetheless, Instagram had quite a run with the square. So what does all of this have to do with marketing your services/business? Many times things may work for companies, even for several years but there’s a danger when changes are not being implemented. This danger is known as falling into a comfort zone.
Instead of “thinking outside the box”, get rid of the square format.
A lot of small businesses fail even before they start; the data stands at 8 out of 10, according to Bloomberg. One reason businesses fail is because they want to be like everyone else and haven’t established their unique value proposition (UVP). A UVP is what sets you apart from other business. What is going to make people buy from you as oppose to the people they regularly buy from? As a small business owner one must consider this. You may not get the answer overnight but as you consistently put in the work you’ll gain a better understanding of it.
MOBE (My Online Business Education) is a company that has really identified their target market. They started as a strictly Internet Marketing company but have now moved toward offering educational services for small businesses. It’s really a great idea and no company really comes close to what MOBE is doing.
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