With Site Badges Debut, “Mobile First” Instagram Is Catching Up to the Web
Building on the momentum of its Web profiles launch earlier this month, Instagram announced Wednesday the rollout of badges, small icons that users can post to promote their Instagram pages.
They’ll certainly look familiar. Instagram badges are essentially a short bit of code that Web masters can embed into their sites, displaying an icon that leads back to a specific Web profile.
It’s no different from the millions of little Twitter bird icons you see pasted up across the entire Web, or perhaps the Tumblr T’s and Pinterest P’s. In short, a badge is an attractive hotlink anchored to your photo spread.
Yes, it’s teensy and incremental. But that’s only the case because icons like these are ubiquitous across the Web, a mainstay of brand promotion. Once you’ve got your social promotional aspects — like a Facebook business page — up and running, the next step is to link to it with badges like these. And millions of people are already doing it with their other social accounts.
Funny thing is, Instagram is building out its network in a way atypical of the Facebooks and Twitters of the world — it is basically working in reverse.
Think about it. Instagram came to prominence via the iPhone and (eventually) Android, growing to upward of 100 million users without ever having an actual Web presence. Only two weeks ago did the company roll out Web profiles so that users could share their photo repositories from the desktop. That’s the complete opposite of the growth trajectory of every Internet company of the past decade. (Though some may argue that this could become the norm.)
Also of note: Instagram’s announcement comes published on the site’s business blog. Obviously, the most likely candidates to use badge icons will be those with their own Web sites, and those are usually the folks with something to sell.
My hunch is that with the debut of badges, combined with Web profiles, Instagram is laying out a more traditional way for brands to take advantage of the app going forward. Companies are already having a tough time figuring out the best way to maintain their Facebook and Twitter presences; to extend that maintenance to Instagram in a familiar, Web-centric way could cut down on some confusion on the business end.
The big question here will be how many visitors Instagram’s Web profiles will see over time. It is a mobile-centric app, after all, so conditioning people to treat it as a Web site as well may not be so simple. And that’s the exact opposite direction of Facebook users’ movements now, as we’re seeing desktop views migrate to mobile en masse.
Badges are available on the site’s business blog beginning Wednesday.