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? For social media platforms such as Instagram having the correct format for photographs could be a great way of sharing your brand to your customers and as well as build awareness around your brand. Alternatively, you could want to promote your brand through your bio, as this is the first thing that someone see’s when clicking on your profile. The most obvious way to do this would be by adding your links in your bio, but unfortunately, you’re only allowed one link to be placed. But what if you have multiple? Luckily, websites like link tree can create a micro web-page that contains all your links. You should read a review on link tree before using it as there are many alternatives, and it might not be right for you, but it’s a very clever tool and concept. Another way to promote your business is to have a stable following on social media. Luckily there are social media tools similar to SocialFollow that could help a business to get instagram followers for free and expand the reach of that business’s brand.

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, and maybe even gain instagram followers on their accounts by being able to get more of the picture in the post. 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.

Photo taken with 4x5 film camera, Pepsi Cola Sign in Long Island City with Queensboro Bridge in background

Copyright © Onelfri Villar Photography 2015

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. Fortunately, some companies tend to adapt their marketing strategies to fit these new changes. For instance, some businesses will seek help from Instagram growth services on sites similar to to keep themselves ahead of an ever-changing environment.

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.

Onelfri Villar in a suit and tie with sombrero, online marketing expert

Skype: Onelfri
Twitter: @onelfri

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