The folks at Instagram made a move this week that suggests their answer to this question is “shortly after you crack 100 million users.”
Last week we published a study highlighting the 54% of Interbrand 100 companies who are using Instagram as a marketing tool. Yesterday on their blog, Instagram announced the upcoming addition of web profiles for their users, highlighting even more the need for brands to take the network seriously.
While Instagram insists that their focus is still on mobile, this move is a clear statement that the photo-sharing app is a social staple that’s competitive with any other on the market, regardless of platform.
Instagram’s 100 million+ users will now be able to share their photos and profile around the web, but it’s important to note that this doesn’t mean Instagram will become a photographic version of Facebook (despite how closely the new profiles resemble those of their parent company). At least not yet.
The new profiles seem to be designed to enhance the mobile network, not change the model. This update won’t mean you can browse your timeline or search hashtags on the website, it won’t allow uploads through the web version, and as far as usability is concerned, mobile is still their primary concern.
The web profiles may seem limited, but this is by design. Instagram is owned by Facebook, and the behemoth network isn’t about to distract you from the amount of time you spend on their site. The web profiles will simply allow users – and more notably, brands – to display their Instagram content to web users in an organized, attractive format. In essence, the move helps provide a visually stunning landing page to represent your corporate or individual brand.
This addition of a web profile will only bolster the confidence that top brands have in the mobile network. As one of their sample profiles, Nike (which was our highlighted brand in the study) offers a good look at the way a brand’s content will be displayed to viewers. The simple and elegant design is perfect for brands looking to market visually.
54% of top brands are already using Instagram. With this added exposure and ability to appeal to consumers, I’d expect that percentage to grow quickly. If you’re a brand manager, you might want stop putting it off and jump on the Instagram bandwagon now.
If you’re already active on Instagram, this is a good time to step back and re-evaluate your strategy.
Update your bio: This will get more exposure with the branded vanity URL and searchability of a web-based presence.
Link-Sharing: Include a link to your new profile page on your website and throughout your digital presence. This feature adds a layer of digital content to your social suite. Utilize it.
Cultivate your content: Now that your content is easily accessible on any browser, it merits more attention. These photos will cycle through the flash “cover” component at the top of your profile, so make sure they’re not going to embarrass you or your brand with a lack of quality.
Profile Picture: These haven’t been too important within the mobile app. Your large format content draws the eye as users thumb through the stream. With profile pages? It will be front and center for any visitor. Maybe it’s time to pull down the bathroom mirror pic and replace it with something more polished.
Don’t Get Tunnel Vision: While the new profile is a cool feature, you need to keep that in mind: it’s a feature. The benefit of Instagram is still in the mobile app. You can’t use and track hashtags with your profile, can’t scroll through your timeline commenting on photos, and more importantly, neither can your followers. Continue to market to the Instagram audience with the fact that it’s a mobile audience. Don’t zero in on the profile page. Once you’ve set it up, it should be a relatively low-maintenance part of your strategy.
The profiles should go live within a week or two. To prepare, take a look at a free Instagram Analytics report, courtesy of Simply Measured. This tool will help you develop an Instagram strategy based on your most engaging content and previous success. Happy filtering!