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Instagram Goes Public with Profile Pages

Instagram, the photo site known for its retro filters, is an emerging trend in online marketing.  According to Simply Measured, 54% of the world’s top brands are currently using the site, including Nike, MTV, Starbucks and Gucci. In many ways, the site is similar to Pinterest with one big difference – Pinterest is an open window, Instagram is not.

When you navigate to Instagram.com, this is what you see:

Where’s the link to all these cool, photos that 54% of the top brands are posting? (Let me stop here and say, I don’t use Instagram, so I’m coming at this as a complete novice.) I’m guessing that the only way I can see anything is to download the app and start following people a’la Twitter or Facebook. Granted, a lot of people use the service, but how is this a good marketing tool?

Moot point at this point, because Instagram has just announced a big change. Going forward, every user will have their own profile page on the web. Like this:

Once they come online (next week-ish), you’ll be able to access any page simply by typing the username at the end of the URL. If the photos are set to public, everyone, even people who don’t have an account with Instagram, will be able to see your photos.

This is great news for marketers. This means you’ll have a public URL that you can promote without restrictions.

The average user can set his profile to private. He’ll still have a profile page but it will be locked to anyone who isn’t a follower.

Going public is a bold step for Instagram. Up until now, part of the appeal has been the almost secretive nature of the site. It felt  intimate and personal. Now, it feels like a cross between Facebook and Pinterest.

For marketers, it’s time to get on board this fast-moving, social media train. Unfortunately, after this upgrade, everyone else might be getting off at the next stop.