Instagram is Cheap and Creepy

I was the community manager for IGersSF for a year, which is part of a larger network of Instagramers started by Phil Gonzalez. The Instagramers Network, which is a name that Instagram doesn’t want them to have, is one of the few ways that mobile photographers traveling around the world can connect to users.

Full disclosure: I own Facebook stock and really want to see them do well, but as an owner of said stock, I’m surprised at how stingy Facebook is to both shareholders and its community.

While running IGersSF I had a great time organizing photo walks so that mobile photographers visiting San Francisco could see how friendly and welcoming the city was. During my tenure I organized and hosted 25 photo walks and 1 fund raiser. I even hosted an open bar. Since my resignation there’s been about 1 photo walk per month.

Given that there are at least 50 people in the employ of Instagram in Mountain View, I’m a bit shocked at the low level of community involvement. As a former developer of a mobile photo upload app, Via.Me, I know Instagram can run on auto-pilot with 3 people. What do these 50 people do all day besides make selections for the Weekend Hashtag Project?

If I had the resources of Instagram, I would be doing the following:

1. Host a photo walk every week in as many cities as I could
2. Provide a decent amount of food and drink after
3. Start an artist sponsorship program of around $1000 where users can apply for sponsorships to get their art projects funded.

I’ve tried to engage Instagram’s community managers on providing these things for the community, but they would never get back to me. I turned to brands to provide this sort of modicum of fun and libations for the community, but soon found out that Instagram wanted these brands for themselves.

Instagram simply isn’t into doing what’s best for the community because they really (and as a stockholder I know this) are focused on getting a return from partnerships with brands.

This would be okay, if Instagram wasn’t active in dissuading folks from creating communities. Brands are okay, but creating something like Instagramers SF is something in their eyes that must be destroyed. I always tried to get some sort of guidance from Instagram HQ, and they only gave me guidance and suggested using their new DM technology for a photo walk once. Also, have you noticed how all the companies with Instagram in them had to change their names? This is so creepy if you ask me.

I am left wondering why I’ve done so much for the community and those at Instagram HQ have done so little. Instagram, why are you so cheap?

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