Social Media

It’s Here: A Website for Your Instagram Feed

February 7, 2013

Three months ago, Instagram set up shop on the web by rolling out an online version of its mobile feed, marking the first step in its expansion from an app to a more robust digital destination. Earlier this week the company took another step forward, transforming its web experience into a full-fledged website where users can engage almost exactly as they do via the app.

Above: Instagram Feed for actress Zooey Deschanel
Building on the November 2012 update – which added the ability browse recently-shared photos and follow other users – Instagram enthusiasts can now interact with and explore content in the same way they do when using the Instagram app. Co-founder Kevin Systrom explains in a blog post:

“Your Instagram Feed on the web functions much like it does on your mobile phone. You can browse through the latest photos of people whom you follow with updates as people post new photos. Like photos by double clicking on them or pressing the like button. Or, engage in a conversation around a photo with inline commenting.

Browse through pages of the most recent images to keep up on what’s happening with the people you follow in real time. And shrink your browser down to a single column for your feed to look more like your mobile feed. Simply put, we’ve brought a simple, powerful, and beautiful Instagram browsing experience to the web.”

The one major feature missing from the web experience is the ability to add photos – which is certainly a notable absence. Given this functionality gap, will users flock to the .com experience? While is built off of the mobile UI, the desktop experience might not have the same communal feel that makes the platform so inviting. Since the website now completely public, users no longer have to log in to browse profiles and photos — removing a layer of privacy for registered users.

So, the question remains: Will the Instagram bookmark sit next to Twitter and Facebook during work hours, or next to Pinterest when you’re curled up in bed with a glass of wine?

If mobile is the future – and Instagram has already established itself as a mobile super-power – then why retroactively build out a desktop experience? One word: advertising. Back in December, Instagram updated its privacy policy and shortly thereafter received an out-pour of very public criticism from users vowing to quit the service if their photos were used in advertising.

Shortly after, Instagram “reverted” the advertising section of its policy to the original version. With this new site update; however, Instagram might be opening the door to a digital ad play – at least the site’s framework would suggest so, but only time will tell. Beyond the suspected increased opportunities for advertising, Instagram’s ties to Facebook are also likely driving its evolution to a service that’s fully functional across all platforms.

Regardless, the evolution of Instagram from an app-only experience to a more robust digital platform is good news for brands that have invested in building out their communities on Instagram, as now more people will have the opportunity to view, follow and engage with their content.

Cover photo via Instagram