Instagram: one product, two needs

Image source:

Kevin Systrom, Instagram’s CEO, provided an interesting example of why we need to understand and focus on consumer needs, instead of being dazzled by product features. Talking about the launch of Instagram Stories, in an interview with Kara Swisher for the Recode Decode podcast, he said:

We found that the biggest problem people had with Instagram is feeling the pressure of sharing really amazing photos… It is like hanging a photo in a gallery. And it turns out that not every photo you take you want to hang out in a photo gallery (…)

The problem is that people want to actually share a lot more, but they don’t want it to hang out on the gallery wall (…)

What if we allowed you to also share, really informally, things that are throw away, but really valuable for a certain amount of time? (…)

And that is why, now that we have launched the product, over 200 million people use Stories every day. I mean, it’s clearly working and it clearly solves a problem for people.


And about giving users the ability to share various formats on Instagram (i.e., not just photos), at about 35 minutes, Systrom said:

Our mission is ‘strengthening relationships’. If you think about strengthening relationships, you can do that through different types of media. It can be a photo, it can be a boomerang, it can be a time lapse… You can capture a moment in all sorts of different ways. It can be a live video.

We are going to adopt any format that allows you to strengthen your relationship with other people through that shared experience… You can see my bike ride. I can see my friend, the book they are reading. I feel that I am getting closer to them through that experience

Instagram logo

Talking about Facebook vs Snapchat vs Instagram, at about minute 29, Systrom used Clayton Christensen’s view of products as performing jobs, which I mentioned previously in this blog post:

You can hire different products for different jobs. (…) They are all photo sharing products, (but with) different audiences. Different creative tools. Different jobs. As soon as you look at the world through that lens, you realise why it makes sense that all these products exist. They might compete with each other on the margin, but, in general, they have very distinctive jobs.

Image source: Business Insider UK

And, if you are wondering, yes he did address the ‘Are you copying Snapchat?’ question. Oh, and the one about selling Instagram to Facebook for ‘just’ 1 billion dollars. It is a great interview, and he is a great interviewee. You can listen to the podcast here. There is a summary here. And there should be a full transcript of the interview on the Recode website soon(ish).


How do you use Instagram?

One thought on “Instagram: one product, two needs

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s