Hey, Twitter: You can add filters, but that won’t help you fight Instagram

NOTE: GrowthBeat -- VentureBeat's provocative new marketing-tech event -- is next week! We've gathered the best and brightest to explore the data, apps, and science of successful marketing. Get the full scoop here, and grab your tickets while they last.

Twitter plans to alter its mobile apps in the coming months and add photo filters so that its members can skip Facebook-owned Instagram, according to a report by The New York Times.

If the juicy rumor proves true, and it probably will as the Times’ Nick Bilton is well-sourced at Twitter, it speaks to the information network’s naiveté over what’s attracted more than 100 million users to Instagram.

Initially, Instagram’s insta-success looked like it had something to do with its fantastic filters for dramatically altering the look of photos. And yes, two years ago, mobile-applied effects and filters, though not an entirely new idea, were quite novel, and photographers seemed to gravitate toward Instagram.

But Instagram quickly expanded beyond the photog niche and found mainstream appeal, arguably more because of its immediate nature and its dumbing-down of the bloated social network experience. These things are most evident when observing tweens and teenagers engage with Instagram.

A soccer parent recently recounted a story to me about how he spent a one-hour-plus carpool observing his 14-year-old son and a few teammates feverishly checking Instagram and talking about their friends’ images. The same dad’s 12-year-old son didn’t want a new phone unless the phone had an Instagram application.

Filters aren’t going to bring these kids to Twitter.

Other things to consider: Facebook has its own mobile application called Facebook Camera for fast photo uploads and filters. The app doesn’t appear to be very popular. Add to that the panoply of filter and effects apps such as Hipstamatic and Camera+ already available in app stores, some more popular than others, and you should start to recognize a pattern: Something other than filters draws people to Instagram.

Still, you can’t necessarily fault Twitter for taking a stab at filters. The information network tried to tie the knot with Instagram but was unceremoniously left standing at the alter when Instagram found a more handsome mate in Facebook.

Twitter did not immediately return a request for comment.

Photo credit: VinothChandar/Flickr


We're studying digital marketing compensation: how much companies pay CMOs, CDOs, VPs of marketing, and more, with ChiefDigitalOfficer. Help us out by filling out the survey, and we'll share the results with you.