This week Instagram launched Web Profiles, a critical update considering the fact that up until this point any interaction with Instagram profiles outside the mobile device was limited to using third-party services like Statigram. This also represents one of the biggest updates since Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram in April.

Introducing Web Profiles

The new web profiles allow users to view each other’s Instagram profiles outside the mobile device. Profiles feature a selection of a user’s most recent images laid out in a large, dynamic banner at top, similar to Facebook cover photos. You can also see a user’s profile information, links to other personal web sites and a brief bio. A grid of a user’s entire photo library is below.

The update makes Instagram much easier for users, especially as it’s evolved to be about more than just sharing stylized photos with friends. Hurricane Sandy showed the potential for the photo-sharing service to follow the lead of Twitter in being a real-time news source. Instagram saw 1.3 million photos documenting Sandy. Web profiles allow users to search, follow and use Instagram wherever and however they choose.

Web profiles can be found by going to instagram.com/[USERNAME]. They’ll be rolled out over the coming days and weeks.

Opportunity for Brands

Instagram has grown quickly to more than 100 million users, and marketers have taken notice of the growth along with Instagram’s ability to help generate visual content. MTV, Nike, Red Bull, Puma and others have noticed the potential and created a presence. Web profiles may lead more brands to follow suit.

Mobile, Desktop… One Destination – Instagram was largely limited to the mobile device before. Now, a brand’s Instagram account is more than mobile. It’s platform agnostic.

A Simple Call to Action – Web profiles allow brands an easier avenue to build awareness of their Instagram presence because they can now direct their audience to find them at instagram.com/[BRAND NAME] to view all of their content in one place.

Open to Everyone – Everyone isn’t on Instagram, but web profiles make the possibility of showing non-users great content a possibility. They can still visit the profile and view the content whether they have an account or not.

Management Got Much Easier ­– Community managers will love the update as they can now manage everything from a computer, which means following, commenting and liking is no longer limited to the mobile device or third parties.

Facebook’s Invisible Hand

It’s important to remember that Instagram is a Facebook-owned property, and Instagram’s update is consistent with the look and feel of Facebook. More importantly, web profiles open up additional monetization opportunities for Facebook with brands paying to promote their content on Instagram as well as their profiles to increase followers.

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