Ideas for Instagram web profiles

Instagram, the popular photo-sharing app for mobile devices, has finally come to the web.

While the app continues to be one you use only on a mobile device – currently iOS or Android devices – to take photos, manipulate them with filters and share them online, at least you’ll now be able to see all the photos shared by a particular Instagram user, all in one place on the web known as the web profile.

Instagram announced the phased rollout of the new feature earlier this week to users worldwide:

[...] Your web profile features a selection of your recently shared photographs just above your profile photo and bio, giving others a snapshot of the photos you share on Instagram. In addition, you can follow users, comment & like photos and edit your profile easily and directly from the web. It’s a beautiful new way to share your Instagram photos!

I use Instagram and now have a web profile, as you see:

instagramprofile

Your web profile will show all your photos with some of the recent ones in the large area at the top of the screen, above your profile photo, which periodically cycles through the photos to give an animated display. It’s nicely done, with the overall appearance looking a lot like the timeline feature in Facebook (no surprise with that, I guess, as Facebook owns Instagram).

Why has Instagram launched this feature? They say:

[...] We’re launching web profiles to give you a simple way to share your photos with more people and to make it easier to discover new users on the web.

It’s a good idea – but you’ve been able to do that for quite a while with a wide range of third-party apps and services. Statigram, for instance, which I use:

statigramprofile

Statigram and other services also give you useful analytics and other tools for managing your photos, connections and online sharing.

Will ‘official’ web profiles from Instagram lead to the demise of some of these services? BetaBeat thinks so.

Some observers have raised concerns over privacy issues with Instagram’s web profiles, where your profile can be seen by anyone on the web unless your account is set as private.

Here’s what Instagram says:

[...] If your photos are set to public, anyone will be able to see your profile by visiting instagram.com/[your username] on the web. You do not have to be an Instagram user to view a public user’s profile on the web.

If your photos are set to private, your photos will be visible only to logged-in Instagram users you’ve allowed to follow you.

Seems quite clear to me, and well explained in the Instagram announcement – but perhaps ought to be explained as well in the Instagram mobile app itself (which it currently isn’t).

As for making use of your new web profile, what might you do with it? A good question, one that my friend Jill O’Herlihy asked.

Much depends on what type of user account you have, ie, are you a personal Instagram user or do you have a presence there from a business point of view?

There are plenty of great ideas from the business perspective. For instance, here are two imaginative uses I wrote about a few months ago where I could see web profiles fitting in:

  • Spanish hotel chain NH Hoteles, Wake Up Pics and Instagramers – a compelling combination of user-generated content and brand engagement. A four-way win that includes the users.
  • US conglomerate GE and its use of Instagram photos to “feature the ground-breaking research and technology that GE has been developing since the days of Edison.”

SocialFresh asks do the new Instagram web profiles mean anything for your business? – and offers some answers. For instance:

[...] Web profiles will allow brands to seamlessly connect their mobile and web experience by offering the community an online destination to showcase Instagram content. Brands are able to direct their audience to their web profile allowing their larger community to view their photos all in one place. The web profile functionality is also a great way for brands to build awareness of their Instagram account and grow their following.

I agree although as I mentioned earlier, you can already do this (and more) with third-party services like Statigram.

MediaBistro has some great ideas on why Instagram’s web profiles could benefit news organizations, such as:

[...] One way news organizations will benefit from Instagram Web profiles is through increased content discovery. When journalists or news organizations have shared Instagram shots to Facebook or Twitter, for example, Web users have only been able to see that one image—so if a user wanted to see a full gallery of images, he or she would need a mobile device to see more.

Leading users to exploring more content can lead to three desired outcomes: likes, comments and shares. News organizations are on Instagram to build communities and then to engage these communities. Giving users a new way to interact with a platform can lead to greater opportunities for exposure to new audiences.

Great ideas indeed, ones that can also work for businesses not only news organizations.

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