Popular photo -sharing app Instagram is becoming more business friendly. In addition to its iOS and Android app, the San Francisco-based image editing and sharing service has added an online tool called Instagram Profiles on the Web. It allows users to display and share photos on mobile phones as well as traditional web pages.
These new pages mean Instagram content can now be available to any web user -- not just those who have the Instagram mobile app or to Facebook subscribers. For business owners, a branded Instagram page online can be a quick, easy way to visually showcase products and more.
If you already have an Instagram account, the service is already set up. New users must download the Android or Apple iOS app and then set up a free account. Permissions and security are managed through your Instagram account.
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What works: The web version of Instagram offers an extraordinarily easy way to set up a business photo page and to share links on the web of photos a business owner has uploaded using Instagram’s popular photo editor. Photos taken with the Instagram app flow directly into the web profile. The most recent images tend to be displayed as a banner collage at the top of the page. Remaining photos are usually rendered as a series of thumbnails.
With a geometric layout where other users can “like” and comment on photos, it has a similar feel to Facebook. It’s simple to create a stream of photos for a company blog or share image URLs with interested clients via email.
Related: How Photos Can Make or Break Your Marketing Campaign
What doesn't work: Like Facebook, Instagram has created a straightforward image feed without much room for customization. You get a clean photo-based site, but there aren't many clear opportunities for branding. You can post images of your logo and products to the page but, for now, that's about it.
Also keep in mind that the smartphone app is still required to add pictures. Even on the web, Instagram doesn’t accept uploads from standard digital cameras.
Bottom line: This new web tool can be particularly useful for businesses that have physical wares to show off, such as craft makers, restaurants or retail. The hurdle is finessing the restrictions on design and branding.
Will you try Instagram Profiles on the Web? Let us know in the comments below.