It may seem like a minor inconvenience, but the ongoing feud between the social media sites Instagram and Twitter has some very real implications of how the war for pageviews will be fought in 2013.
If you aren’t up to speed on what’s going on, Instagram announced major changes in how users’ photos from the service would, or would not, be shared on Twitter.
To recreational users of Instagram and Twitter, this may seem to be a trivial matter of whether one sees a photo or a link to a photo in their Twitter feed, but the impact of that decision has the potential to drive millions of pageviews (and potential advertising revenue) to one site or the other.
That’s why I see “monetize” as one of the key watchwords in the digital media world for 2013. This is the year that digital media companies such as Facebook (owners of Instagram), Twitter and others have to begin addressing serious questions in their business models. Most notably, how will they make money from the never-ending flow of data created and shared by their users. In most cases, this will come down to the most commonly used model everyone knows: advertising.
That means, the war for eyeballs and pageviews is critical. Watch for most social networks to develop services and walled gardens designed to extend your stay on their site. This also means that the sites will be developing more paid advertising and promotional tools intended to help brands better reach consumers using these social networks.
Will services such as Facebook’s promoted posts and Twitter’s promoted tweets help make social media better business development tools? I believe it’s still too soon to tell for many businesses, but the potential is there.
As we move in to 2013, I will be especially interested to see how two major players– Facebook and Google– tackle the problem from a different perspective. Rather than simply trying to drive visitors back to their respective social networks, each player is going to make a concerted effort to have these two networks integrate as seamlessly as possible with the rest of your website experience. In many ways, Google (and its Google+ network) have a considerable head start and available capital to win this race. Facebook is no weakling, however. With a series of strategic acquisitions, including the possibility of purchasing Microsoft’s Atlas Solutions advertising network, Facebook could make a serious run at developing a web-wide presence in winning eyeballs and providing better targeting for your advertising money.
In the end, this is what the Instagram-Twitter feud is really about.
I also had the privilege of speaking about this topic this week on WBIR-TV in Knoxville: