social media how toDoes your business use Instagram?

Have you checked out Instagram since they released user profiles on the web?

Previously, the Instagram website only let users edit their account information (and also hosted the company’s blog).

But all that changed with the recent introduction of web profiles.

Here’s what marketers need to know.

Why Instagram Web Profiles Matter

These new profiles act as an extension of the Instagram mobile app, with users now being able to comment, follow, like and view other photos on the web.

Brands, marketers and users alike can use these web profiles to encourage engagement and interaction outside of the mobile app.

starbucks instagram web profile

An example of the new Instagram web profiles.

For community managers, it’s a plus to have the ability to update and manage your accounts on the web. Having said that, Instagram web profiles aren’t necessarily a game-changer.

Instead, you’ll want to use the new web profiles in conjunction with the Instagram mobile app.

What’s Missing in the New Web Profiles

If you’re already familiar with the mobile version of Instagram, you’ll notice some differences on the web profiles. Here are some initial drawbacks of the web profiles you should be aware of:

  • There’s no search. That means searching for hashtags and specific users isn’t available. However, usernames are links and allow you to hop from profile to profile.
  • Hashtags display as plain text, so you can’t bring up photos associated with specific hashtags. Twitter-like hashtags are the best way to get your Instagram photos seen on the mobile app, but their use is disabled with web profiles. You’ll still see them in photo descriptions and comments, but they aren’t links.

Hashtags appear as plain text on web profiles.

  • You can’t see followers/following lists. Despite web profiles displaying follower and following counts, users are currently unable to see exactly which users these are.
  • There’s no Popular page. If you enjoy seeing the photos on Instagram that are drawing the most attention, you’ll have to turn to the mobile app.
  • Photo maps aren’t available. Many Instagram users choose to geo-tag their photos using the mobile app, but you won’t find these maps anywhere on the web. Instead, geo-tag information is shown with photos, such as the name of a location.
  • You can only edit your profile picture through the mobile app.

Because of these downsides, you’ll want to consider using third-party websites like Statigram and Webstagram to grow an Instagram community through strategies like contests, giveaways, insights and promotions.

What Web Profiles Do Feature

While many features from the mobile app haven’t yet made their way to the web, Instagram web profiles do have:

  • A Facebook-like cover collage at the top of your profile that features a rotating selection of your Instagram photos. Clicking a photo while it’s displayed in the cover collage will bring up that photo’s separate page.
  • Follow and Unfollow buttons.
  • Your profile biography. Be forewarned, if you’re using Emoji icons in your biography on the mobile app, these will not display on web profiles.
  • A website URL of your choosing.
  • Your account’s number of photos, as well as follower and following counts.
  • An infinite-scroll timeline of your photos, separated chronologically by month.
  • The ability to edit your profile settings, including your name, email address, username, phone number, sex, birthday, biography and website.
  • A section where you can manage applications that have been given permission to access your Instagram account.
  • Badges, which you can use to link to and promote your web profile.

Find Your Web Profile

First you’ll want to sign up for an Instagram account if you don’t already have one. Once you have your account, it’s easy to find your Instagram web profile. Any user can get to his or her web profile by going to

You can also find your web profile by logging in through the Instagram homepage:

  • Click Your Account in the footer.
  • Use your username and password to log in.
  • Click your profile image and username in the upper right.
  • Select View Profile.

Tips to Maximize Your Instagram Web Profile

There are over 100 million users on Instagram, and if your branded or personal account is one of them, then you’ll want to maximize and utilize your account’s new web profile right away.

Here’s how.

#1: Understand the Increased Importance of Image Links

Chances are you’ve seen Instagram links in tweets. Images from Instagram also used to appear within tweets until Instagram recently removed support for Twitter cards.

frappuccino instagram tweet

Instagram links like this appear when photos are shared from the mobile app to Twitter. However, images no longer appear below the tweet.

What this means is that more Twitter users will be clicking these Instagram image links, and these links lead directly to Instagram web profiles.

For instance, here’s where you’ll be taken if the Instagram link in the above tweet is clicked:

frappuccino instagram

This is an example of an image page on Instagram web profiles.

An Instagram image link has always led back to a page featuring the image, its number of likes and its comments. But in contrast to the old pages, the new web profiles allow Instagram users who are signed into their accounts the ability to comment and/or like an image directly on the web—no mobile app needed.

Marketers can use this knowledge as an opportunity to promote more interaction among fans.

Besides Twitter, others will find their way to web profiles using these image links when Instagram images are shared to Facebook, Flickr, Foursquare, Tumblr and through email.

This means you need to optimize your web profile to get the most out of the traffic you’ll get through these links.

#2: Add a Website Link to Your Profile

If you haven’t added a link to your profile through the mobile Instagram app yet, then you’ll certainly want to take care of that using the web profiles.

Not only does adding a link increase visibility for your website, it also provides SEO value (despite being a no-follow link, it still sends a signal to search engines).

instagram web profile website

Just like the mobile app, your website’s URL will appear next to your biography section.

To insert your link through the Instagram website:

  • Click your profile image and username in the upper right.
  • Click Edit Profile.
  • Enter your website’s URL in the last field on the page.

If you’re using Instagram as the manager of a branded account, you’ll likely want this link to be the brand’s homepage.

On the other hand, if you’re editing your personal Instagram account, link to a network like, Facebook, Flickr or Twitter so that other Instagram users can learn more about you.

#3: Check Your Privacy Settings

Instagram users who like to keep their account set to private need not worry about privacy issues with web profiles.

According to Instagram, if you have a private profile, your photos will only be visible to logged-in followers you’ve approved. This also means that only those followers can comment and like your photos on the web.

Moreover, search engines are not allowed to index Instagram photos—whether your account is private or not.

instagram web private

This is how a private account will appear on the web to anyone not following that account.

Remember that if you’re managing a branded account, you’ll want to make sure the account and its photos are public. This setting can currently only be changed through the mobile app by going to your profile, tapping the settings icon and turning off the Photos Are Private option.

#4: Manage Applications

If you’ve been an Instagram user for a while, check out the Manage Applications section under Edit Profile.

Instagram will bring up a list of applications you’ve authorized to access your account. Some you’ll remember, some you probably won’t.

To get rid of any unwanted permissions, simply click Revoke Access next to the application name.

manage applications

Each application will list the permissions you’ve granted.

#5: Install an Instagram Badge on Your Website

Instagram recently rolled out badges for users to promote web profiles. To find them, go to Edit Profile and click Badges in the navigation bar on the left.

There are five buttons to choose from. Once you select the badge you’d like, simply copy the automatically generated code and paste it on your website or blog. The badge will link back to your account’s web profile.


If you don’t like the premade badges, Instagram offers a download of its camera icon logo so you can make your own badge.

This is an excellent chance for brands to promote a web profile on their homepage with other social buttons.

#6: Don’t Forget about Mobile

While Instagram’s new web profiles are a great addition, don’t forget that the mobile app is really Instagram’s bread and butter.

Instagram communities rely heavily on hashtags and geo-tagging—which only the mobile app currently offers.

Still, web profiles provide another wonderful platform to engage with customers, fans and friends.

Take a Look at Instagram Web Profiles

Instagram is a great way for businesses to leverage their visual marketing. If you’re already using this platform, be sure to get the most out of these new web profiles. And if your business is not yet using Instagram, you may want to evaluate whether it’s now a good fit for you.

What do you think of the Instagram web profiles? Have you used them to manage your account(s)? Are you happy with the direction Instagram is going after its sale to Facebook? Leave your questions and comments below.

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  • Thanks Bryden for an insightful post about Instagram. I have yet to use it to market my brand, and when I do I will certainly follow your tips to implement my marketing strategies. Awesome points about the limitations of the Instagram web app.

    Have a great Tuesday everyone!

    ~John Lee Dumas

  • Bryden McGrath

    Same to you, John. And thanks for the kind words. Whenever you implement Instagram into your brand strategy, I’d be happy to answer any questions that might come up.

  • Another advantage of editing your bio from the web is that you can insert break lines.

  • Bryden McGrath

    Great tip, and those break lines definitely make a bio look a lot nicer. Thanks, Shawn!

  • I’m a little disappointed we can’t add a photo from the web profile. Sort of a pain to have to transfer images to your phone, make sure you login as the brand page, then upload.

  • Jane Wells

    Instagram is one of my favorite social media outlets. I’m grateful to learn how to incorporate it into my blog and other marketing outreach efforts!

  • Bryden McGrath

    Thanks for the comment, Dan. I agree that’s one of the drawbacks of the web profiles, but it’s also important to recognize that Instagram has always been focused on mobile photography.

    Perhaps in the future Instagram might introduce brand pages and allow for uploading outside the mobile app, but I’m not holding my breath.

  • Still waiting for an update that allows one to be signed in to multiple accounts at a time. I know a lot of marketers (myself included) have a personal account as well as one they are managing for a brand or two and it would be nice not to have to deal with the constant back and forth!

  • Bryden McGrath

    Couldn’t agree more, Bernice.

    Not sure about your preference, but at least for me these web profiles make switching back and forth to manage different accounts a little less of a pain (compared to doing that using the mobile app).

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  • Jeff Kershner

    Wouldn’t that be a great addition? #needit

  • Shiseido Ruiz

    I agree with Bernice as well. I’ve held off from Instagram for now. In my opinion the only moblile photo sharing site that makes sense right now is Flickr, since you can actually log in with a gmail or yahoo account. Also the SEO for Flickr is public facing so ideally it is much better in google searches, but most of the audience is at Instagram for now. Bryden I am curious to know how many profiles you switch in between? I have more than 25 accounts I oversee (not manage directly), and from what I understand you have to create the Instagram account from within itunes or android. Doesn’t itunes cap the amount of accounts you can create? Curious to know how you deal with the logistics of this on the back end.

  • Bob

    I agree 100% with Bernice. Twitter allows this on their mobile version and it’s fantastic.

  • Bryden McGrath

    Hey Shiseido, I wish I had a better answer for you, but I don’t oversee anywhere near 25 accounts. As for the number of accounts you’re able to create, I haven’t heard of a cap. Has anyone else out there?

  • I think Instagram web profiles is not an easy experience to navigate. It gets complicated. I hope that in the future they will make it much more user friendly. Yes, I have used them to manage my account and still exploring on Instagram’s new web profiles.

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  • john

    Is it possible to attach a link to a picture on instagram? Not on the bio but an actual picture upload, like in the comment section.

  • GolfWang †

    I love it !(:

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  • Do you have any thoughts on the value of Instagram for a b2b business?

  • Thanks Bryden for writing this very simple walkthrough for Instagram. 🙂 Greats tips!

  • megan

    does anyone know how to make the cover photo for instagram?

  • guest

    How do I get the cover collage at the top of my profile that shows my different pictures? 🙂

  • Lucy

    Mine doesn’t show either. I can see the collage at all the other user’s web profiles, but all my web profile shows at the top is my profile picture. I’ve been looking for an answer for days. Would love if someone could help with this.

  • Great tips here, Social platforms keep adding more and more ways to refine and target the mass audiences—which makes for a better experience and better results for us marketers.

    I do wonder about creating social pages for each, however. Though I think it depends greatly on the business type and model. Especially on Facebook where the newsfeed is not chronological and people tend to follow less brands than on other platforms (eg, Twitter. Do you think there is a danger in diluting your brand power by spreading influence across too many pages?

    I think a system like Global Pages makes sense–where essentially the user is “forced” to see the country-specific content but is a single Page parent/child system.

    I’m not particularly familiar with Location Pages, so I don’t know if they function in the same way or address the “fracturing” problem.

  • Thomas

    I am still having difficulty with this myself so any help would be appreciated!

  • SueN

    I’m also confused about this. I’ve added a number of photos but they don’t appear in a cover aollage. Any advice or help would be great. Thanks

  • Calvina Walsh

    Has anyone found the answer to activating the gallery header? I can’t find the info anywhere!

  • Steph Bongiorno

    Is there any way to edit the collage at the top of the web profile at all or is it strictly run by Instagram?

  • Grace Duffy

    On Instagram for the Web, the photos in the header automatically rotate through the most recent images you’ve uploaded to Instragram. I don’t believe there is a way to determine which photos are used.

  • Steph Bongiorno

    Ok thank you for your help!