Does 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.
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.
- 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 instagram.com/username.
You can also find your web profile by logging in through the Instagram homepage:
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- 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.
#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.
What this means is that more Twitter users will be clicking these Instagram image links, and these links lead directly to Instagram web profiles.
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For instance, here’s where you’ll be taken if the Instagram link in the above tweet is clicked:
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).
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 about.me, 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.
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.
#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.
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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