Earlier this week, Instagram announced the introduction of online user profiles. Instagram Profiles, which the company has almost finished rolling out, mark a very clear transition from mobile app to the Web that many people fear will change the nature of the service. However, for marketers, the minor change to the platform may indicate a huge opportunity: Instagram Profiles seem to have been built with brands in mind.
The Profiles feature has a very similar layout to that of Facebook, suggesting the tool obviously has been inspired by Facebook’s recent acquisition of Instagram. As of right now, we have very limited control over which photos will appear on our “cover-photo,” but we may see some of these capabilities introduced in the future. The real beauty of the online Profiles is that they offer a highly visual and engaging way to tell a brand’s story.
Here are a few reasons why I believe the new Profiles feature is a great tool for marketers:
Profiles will attract new Instagram users (and potentially new customers)
Brands will benefit in a number of ways from the integration of online Profiles. For starters, it could mean additional followers and customers. Each brand with a presence on Instagram will now be able to share its photos with non-Instagram fans by providing a link to the company’s Profiles page, giving the brand an easy way to integrate its customers’ mobile and web experiences. For example, Starbucks Profile can be found at http://www.instagram.com/starbucks
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Profiles are very easy to use and manage
The shift to the Web also creates some added usability to the platform. For brands, it will be much easier to manage its Instagram Profile, now that one exists beyond the limited scope of a smartphone screen. Though the online profiles lack some obvious navigation and search options, it seems like only a matter of time before the functionality of Instagram’s mobile app makes its way onto the Web platform (less the ability to upload and filter photos- I don’t think that’s happening anytime soon).
There is a big potential for advertising in the future
As of right now, brands do not have the ability to advertise through Instagram, but I would be willing to bet that this option will present itself to brands within the next year. That means marketers would be wise to get in on the Instagram action now and build a following before the platform gets too saturated.
Instagram’s Web Profile tool is a great way for brands to build awareness of their Instagram accounts and to grow their customer following.
As such, playing an active role in managing your brand’s online Instagram presence now will certainly help you stay ahead of the curve. Moving forward, brands in general are going to have to be more conscious of creating visual identities. Pictures are becoming more important than words in terms of sharable value, so start as early as you can! If you haven’t seen your own profile yet, it can be found at http://www.instagram.com/YourUserName.