Wednesday, July 31, 2013

@nel234: Instagram Update

Padlock, #TavernontheGreen Reconstruction, Central Park, New York City
Tavern on the Green: Under Lock and Key
(all photos in this post are from the reconstruction of
Tavern on the Green
In @nel234:  My Oh So Brief Love Affair with Instagram, I reported that @Instagram had locked me out of my account.  Since then,  I've tweeted "at them" a couple of times to no avail.  I also sent a couple of emails which just bounced back to me and there has been no answer to the queries that I've submitted to Instagram and Facebook (parent company) using their respective Web forms.  I even tried calling Instagram but the number I have is for calls about copyright violations only.

In the category of "picking myself up and dusting myself off," I've been trying out a super little app called StreamZoo -- it gets very good reviews from the technology types.  Here's my feed to date (to carry the analogy from the last post forward, I am in the early dating phase and taking things slowly so don't expect a lot of pictures).   Several things I like so far
  • way fewer brands using StreamZoo (so far, I've only spotted Nikon and since I LOVED their feed on Instagram, that is totally OK and I followed them instantly);
  • you aren't forced into squares -- photos come in all shapes and sizes and photos from cameras are welcomed;
  • you can make a collage right in the app; and (drum roll please)
  • it has customer service (as in live people who answer user questions!).
Of course, it's a little like having to do a "do over" of the first day of your freshman year in high school at a new high school.  It's not that I had a huge following on Instagram but I had a following!  Some people even noticed I was gone and thought I had blocked them.  No, I assured them, @Instagram (+Instagram here in Google land) had just determined I was persona non grata and kicked me out.  

One friend (a male) has advised that I should get over it -- that @Instagram doesn't deserve me.  Others (all women) have offered to mount a "Free Nancy" campaign.  Frankly, I'm somewhere in between these two camps some three weeks after my dismissal.  There is a part of me that is a little sad.  Mainly, as I put it to my friend (he of the "they don't deserve you" camp) because it's feels a bit like not being asked to the prom and then seeing how much fun all the popular kids are having.

A lot of my friends are on Instagram and I am woman enough to confess that I feel a little pain whenever I see a post or that they've liked a picture.  Somewhere I have a photo from my first ever trip abroad (France) of a little boy with his nose pressed up to the glass at Versailles.  For the record, he's inside and obviously longing to be outside which I find terribly amusing -- but I digress.  My point is that right now, despite picking myself up and migrating to StreamZoo, I'm that little boy with his nose pressed up against the glass longing to be outside playing with my friends when it comes to @Instagram.

I am not alone in this longing.  The Internet is littered with similar tales of woe, similar pleas about not violating "terms of use" and a similar lack of response from @Instagram.  Doing a search for "instagram + customer service" does yield other results of interest.

Most interesting is that Instagram's parent company, Facebook was on the list of world's worst customer service companies in 2012 and 2013.  In 2013 it actually dropped lower on the list and was joined by Twitter and LinkedIn.  Facebook ranks the lowest on customer service yet remains the largest social media network.  I find the rankings and the lack of a response from Instagram or Facebook interesting for two reasons.

#TavernontheGreen Reconstruction, Central Park, New York City
Tavern on the Green Reconstruction 
First, social media (at least for the moment) has changed how other companies approach customer service.  As an example, I tweeted to @JetBlue from a line at JFK and had a response within five minutes.  It's not that they could solve the problem (TSA delays) but that they responded was BIG to a traveler on the verge of not having time to buy her pre-flight coffee.  I thanked them and that's exactly what @JetBlue hoped to achieve.  Good customer service keeps good customers loyal to your brand.

Second, I am a part of the value in to investors in these social media platforms.  For sure, there is value in the programming but the real value is IN the users or, in other words, the advertising impressions that we represent.  In April 2012, Facebook valued me at about $5.00 a year as reported in Random Thoughts, Tulip Pairings.  Small change except when you multiply it by the number of Facebook users at which point you get some really big numbers.    If one looks at it this way, the argument that Facebook and Instagram are giving me something for free (a platform for sharing "stuff" for lack of a better word) so I'm getting the customer service I deserve (none) isn't very credible in my book.

I am hoping -- not holding my breadth mind you, just hoping -- that Facebook (and by extension Instagram) will improve on customer service soon.  In the meantime, I'm thinking about whether I want to spend the time and energy on sending a letter via snail mail to Instagram as promised in my last post.  It doesn't seem likely that there will be a response nor does it seem likely that I will ever know what terms of use I actually violated.

Bottom Line?  I think that lack of transparency around service violations is just emblematic of an overall lack of transparency about how Facebook and Instagram view their user base.  Collectively, we are an asset to be monetized.  Nothing more.  Nothing less.

#TavernontheGreen Reconstruction, Central Park, New York City
Tavern on the Green Reconstruction

1 comment:

  1. Still really puzzling. Any signs that you were hacked? Or maybe you just need to stop taking pictures of the secret military bases and missile silos.