Instagram Stabbing Itself By Leaving Twitter Cards Off

YouTube never disabled embeds on Twitter or Facebook, letting visitors to those products watch a YouTube video without ever coming to our site. YouTube worked with Apple to make our app a default experience on iOS, even leaving it effectively non-monetized until last year. Why? Because we knew our users were on those sites and we wanted YouTube to be synonymous with “video.” Because we knew we could create a differentiated on-site experience which drove clicks back to our site from those embeds. And because we knew that our community was OURS only so long as we served THEIR needs.

Instagram photos ceased being viewable on Twitter last December due to a strategic decision by Facebook management, which Twitter CEO Dick Costolo said was “their prerogative.” At the time Instagram was building out a web presence and seeking overall to drive more consumers to view photos within Instagram controlled properties (their website, their apps), rather than through Twitter. Since that time Instagram has continued to grow – 150 million user now – so everything seemingly is healthy. But is it?

What Instagram gave up, in my mind, was owning the word “photo” on Twitter. I spend a lot of my social tech time on Twitter and anecdotally see far fewer Instagram links than I used to. Or maybe it just feels that way since I certainly click on fewer than I did when the picture was embedded right there. These days “photo” for me on Twitter could mean their own native hosting, or FrontBack, or imgur, or any number of other destination links.

Twitter is reportedly getting ready to release a new app UI which puts more emphasis on media. It would be a shame if Instagram pictures still aren’t viewable within Twitter’s native app, and an even more glaring absence since I’m guessing “photo view” wouldn’t even include Instagram URLs.

If Instagram turns card support back on after Twitter launches the app it’ll be made into a big deal by the tech press (“Instagram Gives In”) so why not just do it now. Reverse a decision made when Facebook stock was below IPO-levels.

Letting me view Instagram on Twitter doesn’t commoditize the service, it keeps Instagram top of mind.