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3 Marketing Lessons From Facebook’s Instagram Acquisition

Re-posted from MashableThis week, pages upon pages of commentary have been written about Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram, the astronomical valuation applied to the deal, and the competitive impetus for the transaction. But what’s most interesting is what it implies about Facebook’s perspective on content creation versus content distribution.

Before Instagram, Facebook was exclusively a way to distribute. It didn’t provide tools to actually create (with the exception of typed status updates). Instead, it largely left creation to others — notably Zynga for games, native camera applications for photos, and record labels and Spotify for music.

Facebook’s purchase of Instagram represents the acquisition of a technology platform that enables people to create and share. Think about it. When you take out your phone and snap a photo, not only do you use Instagram to create content, but you almost always immediately use the app to share it, too.

The larger shift toward content creation has been on the horizon for some time. Just look at Pinterest. While many users aren’t creating the images themselves, they are the creators of their own pinboards, and the time spent crafting those vehicles for self-expression is undoubtedly astronomical.

That makes this space ripe with deeper user interaction, and that’s worth something. Facebook certainly thinks so. They just spent $1 billion on a company with no business model — just the proven capability to engage consumers while they create. Marketers should take a cue from Facebook’s move and apply the following tips.

1. Seek Out Content Partners

If content creation isn’t your brand’s core competency, don’t reinvent the wheel – look to others who can help. Just as Facebook acquired Instagram, marketers too can work with companies that deliver content creation capabilities. Running a campaign with a content partner can, in the end, result in far more engagement than expected.

2. Embrace Platforms with Traction

One of the first things Mark Zuckerberg said after the deal was that Instagram would largely be left alone, and the existing experience will remain intact. Marketers often go in the other direction. They try to build micro sites, special flash platforms, or their own apps, which can limit the possibilities for sharing and consumer participation. Companies like Facebook and Instagram are already great at powering content creation and distribution. So are sites like Pinterest. Marketers should leverage each platform’s expertise, instead of trying to create something similar from scratch.

3. Make Room for Amateurs

Content creation can sound scary, because not everyone has the skill to create good music, photos, or video. Smart platforms and campaigns like Instagram and Pinterest make room for the pros, but they largely believe in the creative possibilities of the consumer audience. Anyone can snap a photo, just as anyone can create a pinboard. Marketers shouldn’t relegate themselves to all pros. Pros create aspirational content that people will want to share, but amateurs bring reach.

This May, Mashable will be be exploring the future of digital marketing at our signature conference, Mashable Connect. See below for all of the details.”