Instagram rolled out the first significant change to the way we use their platform this week since their billion-dollar acquisition by Facebook. Photo tagging feature allows users to select friends in their photos and tag them with a link to their Instagram account. It has Facebook feel with a more elegant execution. If users choose, photos tagged of them appear on a new section of their profile.
The process is simple. There is an ‘add people’ option in the menu underneath each photo; tap the person in the photo you want to tag, find their Instagram account, and save. To see photos of users, click the far right icon underneath of the profile.
Users have the option to review photos in which they are tagged before they are visible, keep them private, or to let them post automatically. Tagged photos are still mobile-only, but expect that the functionality will make its way to the web before too long.
Why does it matter?
Since launch, Instagram profile photos have been small and unclickable. A gallery of tagged photos adds a strong connective layer to what were primarily visual accounts. Instead of one tiny profile photo, users can thumb through a gallery of photos tagged of that person and put a face to a name. This allows followers to create a greater connection with those they are following beyond the photos they post, without adding additional clutter to the profile page itself.
Instagram is shifting the needle, emphasizing the human element within the creative process. Many highly-followed users do not feature people in many of their photos, but for those casual users snapping photos at dinner with their friends, the photo tagging service adds a deeper level of involvement and connectivity to the platform.
For brands and businesses, it opens up some excellent marketing and campaign possibilities. Photo tagging allows for a much tighter contest submission process, with hashtags and mentions no longer a necessity. Additionally, the review process for submissions is streamlined as all entries live in one place on that users account. There is no noise from people using the hashtag incorrectly or misspelling a mention.
Imagine a boutique clothing shop such as Duke & Winston running a contest where users tag photos of their clothes in their everyday life. While this was possible before through mentions or hashtags, the tagging option opens up those photos to be visible by all Instagram users in a public place, allowing for greater exposure (and deeper affinity for the brand itself.)
For accounts that thrive on user-generated content, this is a great way showcase submissions in a fan gallery, and could serve as a single stop location for voting on submissions.
Instagram has done a fine job integrating tagging into their service. It is clean, easy to use, and does not take away from the visual integrity of the platform. It is truly a value-added feature, and it will be interesting to watch the creative contest and campaigns that take advantage!