Every end is a new beginning

Successful features breed new features.

Remember the life cycle of successful new features? The idea was that during their lifetime, successful features evolve over Indifferent, Attract and Perform categories to end up as expected, natural, Must-Be features.

But that’s not the end of it.

New features breed new needs

Instagram photo filters have evolved through the different stages of the lifecycle of successful features. Through competition and technological progress they have become an expected but no longer exciting feature.

Some users don’t even bother with the filters anymore. But in “A Visual History of the Instagram Filter”, Kate Imbach writes:

Today it’s common for influencers to use their own custom filters — called presets— that they create themselves in Adobe Lightroom. The idea behind the presets is to wash each photo in the same on-brand tone.

So while the original photo editing feature may have lost a lot of its sheen and purpose, its usage has led to new sets of needs and behaviours.

Observing the behaviour of different types of users can give you insights in new emerging needs. Influencers want to build a brand. They use specialized tools like Adobe Lightroom to achieve that goal.

Should Instagram then improve its photo editing feature to compete with Adobe Lightroom? I wouldn’t think they should; it’s an arms race Instagram cannot win.

But look at what these influencers want to achieve. Instagram could help them share on-brand pictures a lot easier by creating an official Lightroom publishing plugin. And that’s only one simple idea — I’m sure your product team could come up with far better ideas to help influencers with their branding.

And there’s even more. Kate Imbach writes:

The twist is that presets don’t stop with influencers themselves. Many turn around and sell their presets to followers who want to achieve the same look for somewhere between $19 and $150.

That’s a revenue opportunity if ever I saw one.

Moral of the story: don’t mourn the end of life of your successful product features. Success means it has been used a lot, and usage of successful features breeds new needs.

Observe your users while your features are going through their lifecycles and your next set of great ideas is just there, ready for the picking.