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Do Instagram’s new web-based profiles matter?

In coming days, Instagram will roll out user profiles online so non-mobile users can peek in, but is this a good or bad thing? Does it even matter or is it just another bell or whistle?



Instagram and the rise of the visual web

In yet another of many signs the visual images are becoming more popular online than strictly words, Instagram mobile use beat out Twitter, and further, daily user numbers are on the rise for Instagram and declining on Twitter. Some posit that the visual web is rising in prominence because of laziness, as images are easier to scan than walls of words, while others opine that it is less of a commitment, thus easier for the attention-deficit society of today.

In the next step of Instagram’s leading of the visual movement, the company has launched web profiles for users, after a very long wait. Some third parties have stepped in to bring Instagram to the web like Although Instagram’s new web profiles, as pictured above, do not offer analytics like, it does supplant the need for a variety of third party apps that sought to allow desktop users to view Instagram galleries online.

Instagram was acquired by Facebook for $1 billion earlier this year, so the similarities you see between the new Instagram profiles, and Facebook profiles, most notably mobile profiles, but Instagram images automatically populate and animate as your cover photo, rather than your designing or choosing one.

While logged in, users can now follow other profiles, like photos, and make comments from the web, as well as update profiles, but photo uploading remains strictly mobile, as most analysts believe it should be.

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Not all profiles have the web version of their profile yet, but Instagram says it will be rolling it out to all users in the coming day, and “private” users’ photos will remain private. To check if your profile is up yet, simply put your username at the end of the URL Check out Starbucks’ Instagram web profile in the meantime.

Why this all matters

This update matters for three groups – Instagram, Instagram users, and third parties that supplement Instagram.

First, this update matters to Instagram as it makes the service more user friendly, which facilitates growth, and as it gets more Facebooky, so to speak, it reveals the long term strategy of potentially rolling the photo sharing app into Facebook as its native photo service. It also spells out Instagram’s continued commitment to the visual web, and renews their leadership role in the sector.

Secondly, Instagram users now have more opportunity to connect, browse, and peruse, as users over the age of 18 likely spend more time on a desktop than children. Additionally, the interface is much easier to use on the web in our experience, particularly with follower management.

Lastly, third party apps that allow users to manage their Instagram accounts may be under threat, but no one is really surprised, as in many peoples’ minds, this web profile system should have been a part of Instagram all along. While this update threatens many third party apps, it also provides more rich data and opens doors for Instagram, thus could theoretically grow third party apps’ user base as well, so long as the enrich the service, rather than duplicate Instagram features now built in.

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Regardless of features or a lack of features, the visual web is not going away, and Instagram (thus Facebook) are well aware that our brains are being rewired to prefer quick images with low commitment, over digesting words and deep thoughts. It’s a good and a bad thing – a topic we will dissect further in coming weeks.

Lani is the COO and News Director at The American Genius, has co-authored a book, co-founded BASHH, Austin Digital Jobs, Remote Digital Jobs, and is a seasoned business writer and editorialist with a penchant for the irreverent.

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