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  • Writer's pictureDr. Jana Gross

Book Review: No Filter by Sarah Frier (rating: 8/10)

Summary: Sarah Frier describes her book No Filter as an effort to tell the inside story of Instagram. The book tells the history of Instagram, the company’s transformation and their strategic decisions throughout the years. She explains the dynamics and the developments between Instagram and the other social media titans (i.e. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat) in the Silicon Valley. Moreover, the book describes how Instagram’s strategies and decisions has fundamentally changed communication and has given rise to new business models. The book is written in a narrative style and tries to incorporate an omniscient perspective on Instagram.

Review: In-depth exploration and reporting: Sarah Frier deeply explores, sources, and reports information in her book. She has access to a lot of insider-information from employees, executives, and founders of the social media titans in the Silicon Valley, which makes the book round and sound. I particularly like how thoroughly she describes the opportunities and challenges of Instagram over the years and how founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger made some major strategic decisions. For example, Chapter 8 describes how and why Instagram decided to focus on quality and high-quality content.

The power and influence of Instagram on our everyday lifes: The book explains and shows how Instagram and also the other social media platforms fundamentally changed many aspects of our everyday lifes. The way how Instagram (and the other platforms) changed the way we consume content and make our daily decisions are well-described and on point. Particularly, chapter 7 nicely describes how Instagram changed the way we communicate, our values, and shopping decisions and as a result how the new phenomenon and business model “influencer” rise.

Story about Silicon Valley: The book is about the major social media platforms in Silicon Valley with the focus of Instagram. She incorporates the perspectives and influence of Facebook and Twitter on Instagram from the very early days on. Chapter 9 introduces the perspective of Snapchat when the platform became a major competitor to Instagram. She explores how the competitors perceive Instagram, but also how Instagram’s decisions affected and were affected by the other platforms. The perspective of Instagram is definitely the focus of the book, but the relationships and dynamics between the platforms build a better understanding for the decisions and development of Instagram.

My take away: I learnt more about the dynamics between the social media titans, how they influenced each others’ decisions, and how these decisions affected the development of the platforms.

Conclusion: If you are looking for an interesting non-fiction book about social media and the Silicon Valley, this is definitely one you should consider.

Jana’s book rating: 8/10


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