Coming Back to Life: Foursquare and Instagram
I usually download all the new apps that my friends tell me about, get highlighted on TC or VentureBeat, and usually the top apps in the App store (I’m basically a sheep – following all the trends).
I just cleaned up the apps on my phone – over 500 apps now down to 100 (and finally started consolidating my two iTunes account). It feels good to be digitally clean.
I noticed on my phone 2 apps that I’ve had a roller coaster relationship with – Foursquare and Instagram. I’ve been using both since inception, became a power user, stopped using the app completely, and have come full-circle to become to back being a power user.
Fred Wilson summed it up best in a recent interview with Dennis Crowley, CEO / Co-Founder of Foursquare, re: long road maps.
So when I asked Dennis about the moment when the Foursquare team watched the Facebook Places announcement, he said “I got up and told the team that any company can copy what we have built, but we just have to go on and build the things we want to build because nobody else has that roadmap.”
I stepped back and thought about the common features of both that really got me back:
- Killer new product features – when Foursqaure and Instagram came out, they offered a very simple minimum viable product. To check in and to share beautiful photos. Over time, this became cool but not necessarily integrated into my life. The product teams at both startups are killing it. Foursquare’s venture into lists, their explore function, and now radar is fantastic. It really brings online to offline. Instagram started with awesome filters and now have added aperture functionality. Users can take beautiful photos and share that experience instantly
- Ability to share instantly / integration with other networks – one of the main reasons for both successes have been the ability to share instantly. Both have become a sense of “street cred” – checking in at a cool bar, restaurant, etc. or taking a cool picture of something. It’s all about sharing that moment of your experience with others (something Facebook and Twitter have done really well). It’s that instant association – the eagerness to share – that has really driven engagement. Foursquare and Instagram really nailed it by creating a seamless, efficient experience to share this. You can link all you social accounts and blogs to instantly share. I think Kevin Systrom, Founder and CEO of Instagram did this really well
- Building a network / human psychology – in the early days these two startups really had to work at getting users to sign on. I’m always surprised when companies (startups) work so hard to give something free away! There are many definitions on how networks are built (the power of the network is stronger as others join, customer acquisition costs go down over time, users stay as you tariff [ads], etc.). Ultimately, networks today allow people to share their emotions. The moment you capture on your phone, the moment you are in a location somewhere…it’s human psychology to want to share snippets of happiness in your life
Overall, I’ve been really impressed with both companies. They both enable me to share those moments that make my life more thrilling.
The one note that I’d make is that with Instagram, it’s easy to share a photo and location whereas with Foursquare it’s easy to share location and not as much as a photo. Will be interesting to see how these two work on each other’s platforms.
Both have made it on the front page of my phone right next to text, Google Maps, phone and have become daily use cases in my life.