7 Features Instagram Needs To Make It Better For Brands and Business

I’ll admit it. Ever since I found Instagram, the amount of time I spend on Facebook has declined. And that’s how a lot of other people feel too. Out with the old, in with the new.

With this thought process, many brands are realizing that they need to be on Instagram too. Neilson’s January 2014 rankings show that Instagram was more popular than Twitter in average unique users with almost 2 million more using the social networking app in 2013.

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Showing a 66% growth from last year, Instagram is an emerging platform that marketers can not ignore.

Not every company is using it yet. And before they do, they will have to weigh the benefits of the platform before investing the time and effort into it. That’s why I think there are some features Instagram could add to their application to make it better for brands and business.

1. Initiate Single Sign-On Profiles

I can’t wait for the day that Instagram initiates a single sign-on profile. With a single sign-on profile, users would be able to control *brand profiles through their personal profiles. Thereafter, personal profiles should be made managers of the brand profiles through the admin settings.

This would function similar to how Google+, Facebook, Twitter mobile app, and LinkedIn user account management works. To be able to access a LinkedIn company page or Facebook page, users must first sign-in to their personal profiles. Afterwards, they can pick to function as company profiles.

*Brand profiles refer to an Instagram profile for a brand (ex: Nike, Nordstrom, UFC)

2. Option To Post Direct Messages

Instagram allows for users to send direct pictures and video messages to each other. Which is great for peer-to-peer communication. But take it one step further and allow brand profiles to be able to post messages they receive to their network of followers.

Brand profiles would be able to run competitions, offer fans an opportunity to be featured on their profiles easily, employees an opportunity to customize their engagement with companies and another avenue for larger corporations to be able to connect with smaller aspects of their organizations.

Example: Journalists would be able to send news outlets their pictures with custom descriptions via Instagram and the news providers would be able to post them directly through the application.

3. Profile and Post Analytics

This is a no-brainer. But this may also refer back to the single sign-on policy whereby brand profiles are allowed analytics of their account activity. Just like Facebook’s pages is currently setup.

Companies would get access to data and metrics about their engagement that could potentially include time of day vs engagement, engagement by post type, breakdown of engagement between comments and likes, profile views and profile hyperlink clicks.

Send brand profile’s connected users a weekly email with said brand’s analytics with a tip to encourage more activity and engagement.

4. Embedded Profile Widget

Allow brand profiles access to an embeddable profile widget they can embed on their blogs or websites. Program the widget so that when viewed on a mobile phone, users can click-to-follow brand profiles on Instagram.

Either force it via a login or open in the Instagram app and automatically view the profile attached to the widget. Click follow and the widget should collapse so that the user is back on the same page as they were before they clicked the widget.

This should be a feature in my opinion because the world is going mobile. We access more content via our mobile phones now than ever before and this feature would allow brands to bridge their current websites with mobile applications (Instagram) in a manner that would benefit both parties.

5. Embedded Hashtag Widget

Allow brand profiles access to a hashtag widget configuration dashboard to pick some settings and output code for a custom embedded hashtag widget.

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Features should include: width, height, color picker for borders, links, buttons, auto-scrolling options, images vs. video filters, view via single image, view via preset amount of rows and columns and the ability to feature pictures or videos in the widget display when you like them through the brand profile.

This may not be on the highest request on this list but that’s mainly because I don’t think it would be used as much as some of these other features.

6. Embedded Map Widget

You may be thinking, why? Well this would be great for stores. Any brick and mortar locations that have a tough time encouraging, aggregating and displaying content associated around predetermined hashtags could set this up on their site.

Basically all that I envision is a widget that would be embedded on a website that shows all the images and pictures from a specified latitude and longitude location. Just like the hashtag widget, brand profiles should be able to “highlight” images within the widget by liking them on Instagram.

7. Featured Hashtags

Brand profiles should have the ability to feature one hashtag on their profile at all times. The exact same way we can currently do now with a hyperlink.

Why not allow this space to make more sense and create a link from the brand profile description to the hashtag’s content? When a brand initiates the hashtag of choice, give them an option to sponsor that hashtag and keep their profile at the top of it for a specific amount of tweets or time.

Collect information for which brands use which hashtags. Aggregate this data to be able to price hashtags per usage and trends. This feature could offer another form of advertising for Instagram’s revenue model.

If you think there are other features that you have thought of but I did not include here, leave them in the comments below. But more importantly, if you agree with any of the features above, share this article with your fans and followers. It would be great to see some of these features included in the next application update.