Approximately one year ago Facebook captured headlines with its $1 billion acquisition of Instagram. The fun, easy to use photo sharing platform, quickly proved it had staying power. Instagram purists feared the Facebook acquisition. Would their beloved platform quickly become another Facebook? Would it no longer be about sharing beautiful photos and start incorporating all of the noise that comes with Facebook?
In atypical Facebook fashion, however, the social giant has done little to change or update Instagram since acquiring the platform. Until now.
Last week, Instagram announced the Photos of You feature which gives users the ability to tag people in photos. Sound familiar?
How Does it Work?
Instagram already gave users the ability to add a location to a photo, describe a photo, make it searchable with hashtags, and to mention fellow users in the comment section underneath a photo. Now, theyve added a feature which allows you to tag someone directly in the photo. Instead of tagging, however, Instagram is calling the new feature Add People.
All users will now have a Photos of You section comprised of photos in which they have been tagged. Users could always interact with their friends photos using likes and comments, but the tagging feature gives personal stake in the photos your friends are posting.
What Does It Mean for Marketers?
Making the change a bit more interesting for marketers, when adding the who to the photo, you are not restricted to fellow friends and followers, you can add any account, including a brand or celebrity. This gives brands the ability to market to the Instagram population like never before. Previously, brands were limited to a unique hashtag for photo contests, for example, something that doesnt always work out as planned.
Now, a brand can run a promotion based on people people tagging them directly. Marketers can interact with their influential followers and engage users via photos, inviting mentions and a more involved level of participation. Conversely, when an influential user adds your brand, or you add that user and they choose to add it to their profile, your brand is dramatically expanding its reach in a more organic way than direct advertising.
Heres what Instagram had to say about the new feature:
You can add any account on Instagram, whether its your best friend, favorite coffee shop or even that adorable dog you follow.
And perhaps taking a cue from reactions in the past, Instagram made sure to note concerns of privacy:
Only you can add people to your photos, so you have control over the images you share.
Users will have until May 16th to mess around with the new feature and get comfortable with privacy settings before the photos in Photos of You go public.
Though B2B brands will have to be more creative than say the Nikes or Southwests of the world when finding ways to engage users, this new feature still provides marketers from all industries and verticals a greater opportunity to expand their reach and build community around their product, service, or values in a mobile setting.
While some speculate this change could be the first move toward adding ads to Instagram (Facebook is still looking for ways to commercialize Instagram), for now brands can engage and interact with users on Instagram in a way that is harmonious with the original intention of the platform — the sharing of photos.