April 1 is generally known as “April Fools Day”, where people tend to play pranks on each other leading to a series of laughter or fights, based on how well the person being pranked takes it. But, this day was really different for Musa Tariq, a resident of San Francisco and a recent employee at Airbnb. A lot different.
Normally, huge social media platforms like Instagram receive unsolicited feature update requests all the time, from various people. But, the difference is…this time it worked!
If you have noticed, Instagram has a feature called “Questions”, which lets users post this sticker to their Instagram Story. The default text for this sticker reads, “Ask me a question”. Although this text can be edited by the user, it usually encourages users to spam their followers feed with irritating, irrational and unrealistic questions.
During the year 2018, Tariq, who is now a brand strategist, took to his twitter account to suggest tweaking the default sticker’s text from “Ask me a question” to “How can I help you?”. He chose to tag Kevin Systrom, Mike Krieger, and Kevin Weil, who were Instagram’s CEO, CTO, and Product Chief at that point in time. The Tweet read:
This Tweet did gain some likes, but was it good enough to actually reach the decision-makers? Apparently, it was!
A few minutes later, the current head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, who was on Twitter at that time saw it and tweeted back, “I like it.” While it is reasonable enough to think that the conversation ended there, it actually didn’t. Mosseri is well known to have an approachable public persona, which means he could have just acknowledged the tweet and moved on.
But…instead, the next morning, Mosseri responded to Tariq again with the suggested product tweak. He tweeted “We love the idea of reframing the question to focus on others — so we launched it right now. We’re hoping it’ll be a small way to help people spread kindness and support.” The image then showed the new default prompt with the change in the text as Tariq had initially suggested — “How can I help?”
Well, Mosseri doesn’t indulge every tweet asking for an Instagram product update or change. The reason Tariq’s request stood out is that -
- He’s well recognized in the Silicon Valley tech circles
- The tweak suggested was extremely small and probably didn’t require much work at Instagram’s end
- Mosseri viewed this as an opportunity for some positive publicity (although, the company never actively sought it)
At the moment, Instagram is working on addressing far bigger problems in comparison to the wording of their stickers. This interaction offers a glimpse of how Mosseri views his role and his actions. While Mosseri lacks the public stature of his predecessor, Kevin Systrom, he does offer a lot of time responding to criticisms on the platform and tries to make himself available to general users.
The highest-profile move he has made as a CEO is trying to experiment with removing public like counts from Instagram posts. Although this has been going on for months, the popularity of the decision is not welcomed by the general users.
The moral of the story here is that Instagram follows a hands-on approach in making quick, decisive changes to its products when necessary. Also, shoot your shot in suggesting product updates to Instagram, as Mosseri is always listening and is open to hearing new ideas and suggestions to improve the platform.
Maybe Mosseri and Instagram might “Like” your suggestions!