By Cat Thoreson
Instagram released its new Terms Of Service (TOS) on Monday. While this may be of no surprise to you, what will ensue will be, because, quite frankly, no one knows.
While many controversial clauses made their list of terms, none were more contested than the implication that users photos could be sold for advertising purposes without their consent. It seems that Instagram took one step forward and two steps back. At least from their commentary on Tuesday, where they backpedaled in a vaguely worded blog post. “To be clear: it is not our intention to sell your photos,” the post reads. “We are working on updated language in the terms to make sure this is clear.”
While we’re still waiting to see what the new terms say, the fact remains that even if Instagram agrees to back off some damage control is still necessary. Case in point, the recent boycotting of Instagram from National Geographic and Anonymous. A popular Twitter feed associated with the hacker collective urged its 780,000 and some followers to jump ship on Tuesday morning. “Only way to opt out of @instagram selling your photos is deleting your account. Sounds good to us. #BoycottInstagram.” And many other users are following suit, or at least thinking about it, like Instagram’s top photog Kim Kardashian.
But amidst all this angst, I can’t help but think that maybe these terms aren’t so bad, especially for brands looking to connect with consumers in this space. The anticipation is that Instagram’s monetization model will look a lot like Facebook, where companies build fans, communicate to them and increase their reach and engagement through ads or promoted content.
The obvious advantage Facebook has is its rich user profile data, especially as users connect their Instagram accounts to Facebook. In addition to building hypertargeted profiles, there’s an opportunity to capitalize on image recognition technology. So, for example, if someone posts multiple images of their dog, you would be able to target that segment with relevant offers for dog food or dog grooming. And beyond that user, those who engage with those images can be targeted with gifting messages for example.
But this technology is not just limited to segments with dogs or babies; it could transcend to nearly every industry. Only time will tell…