Instagram Turned a User’s Tweet Into a Feature Overnight
At 8:09 on Wednesday evening, Musa Tariq of San Francisco tweeted at Instagram with an idea for a product tweak. Platforms as big as Instagram get unsolicited feature requests all the time, from all kinds of people. But this time, it worked.
Instagram has a feature called Questions that lets users post a sticker to their Instagram Story. Though users can change the sticker’s text, it reads “Ask me a question” by default, inviting your followers to do just that. While the feature has caught on in some circles, it has also encouraged users to spam their followers’ feeds with unimaginative posts like,“How tall are you?”
Tariq, a brand strategist who now works at Airbnb, has long used the Questions feature to ask people, “How can I help you?” Back in 2018, before he took the Airbnb job, he tweeted a suggestion to Kevin Systrom, Mike Krieger, and Kevin Weil, Instagram’s CEO, CTO, and product chief at the time: Why not make “How can I help you?” the default text, just for a day, to see what happens? The tweet got some likes, but no response.
At 8:40 p.m., Adam Mosseri tweeted back simply, “I like it.”
On Wednesday, with the coronavirus pandemic wreaking havoc in San Francisco and around the world, Tariq decided the time was right to give it another shot. He tweeted the idea again, this time tagging the Instagram brand account, along with Weil and another Facebook executive, neither of whom now works at Instagram. (Asked for comment via Twitter DM on Thursday, Tariq told me his tweets were personal and unrelated to his role at Airbnb, and were not part of any broader campaign. He declined to be quoted for this story.)
As it happened, though, the current head of Instagram was on Twitter and saw it. At 8:40 p.m., Adam Mosseri tweeted back simply, “I like it.”
It would have been reasonable to expect the interaction to end there. Mosseri, the former Facebook News Feed chief who took over Instagram in October 2018…