Membership

Is Making Members Happy Always the Way to Go?

By / Dec 7, 2012 (Photodisc/Thinkstock)

Some changes could have members seeing red. But, is it ever worth it, for the good of the association?

And here we go, everyone locking down their content to ‘monetize.’ Meanwhile, users suffer. Any change that makes the product less functional for the user is a mistake.

In a move designed to drive more traffic to Instagram, the photo-sharing website has disabled its Twitter cards integration, which allowed Instagram photos to automatically embed themselves in tweets. The change has hardly been a welcome one among Instagram users, and the flap raises issues worth considering in associations as well.

What did they do? Now, Twitter users only see a cropped image in a tweet, and eventually, the images will go away entirely. In an article from TechCrunch, Instagram founder and CEO Kevin Systrom explained that “eventually the cropping will stop and the photos will no longer show up in tweets at all due to lack of [Twitter] cards integration. Instead, all clicks will go to Instagram.com.”

The reaction: While it might be a smart, traffic-boosting move for Instagram, which Facebook recently acquired for $1 billion (and Systrom maintains that Facebook had nothing to do with Instagram’s decision), users tell a different story.

A top commenter on TechCrunch’s article, Spencer Callaghan, says what’s on many users’ minds: “And here we go, everyone locking down their content to ‘monetize.’ Meanwhile, users suffer. Any change that makes the product less functional for the user is a mistake.”

The justification: Is Callaghan right? After all, Instagram is making a calculated move to develop a larger internet presence, and Systrom says the change is “the correct thing for our business to do at the time,” according to an account from TheVerge.com. But if it upsets your key audience—in this case, millions of Instagram users, is it worth it?

We’ve seen this before, largely from tech companies that are continually evolving. Remember when the Facebook timeline became a mandate? Or when Netflix split its services with Qwikster? In the end, the timeline has become standard, even accepted, while Qwikster swiftly went back to the status quo to prevent an even bigger user uprising.

But there’s a larger question to ask, one that can be applied to virtually every organization, big or small, in the tech sector or not: Is angering your customers or members ever worth it for the greater good?

Has your association ever been faced with a difficult decision about changing a widely used product or service? How did you deal with the backlash from dissenting members? Let us know in the comments.

Chloe Thompson

Chloe Thompson is a contributing writer to Associations Now. More »

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