Instagram has made waves again with a mobile update that hints at a lot more than you might expect. The goal was to allow for Instagram functionality/posting without the need to download the app itself. Here’s what that means, and why it’s worth remembering for your own Instagram strategy.

Instagram’s Mobile Change, and What Exactly It Does

The mobile update replaces the original version of the Instagram site (a basic login/intro screen) with a version that looks almost exactly like the Instagram app you may keep on your phone. This new version of the site allows you to upload images to your Instagram feed, whereas before you could only accomplish this via the app. It’s a handy and logical update that improves the functionality of the mobile site and makes it easier to post on Instagram. Win-win!

Now, this is a mobile-only change: If you hop onto a desktop right now, you’ll see the same old Instagram site with basic image view capabilities (unless you want to do a slightly complicated Chrome browser workaround). And while the change allows posting, it is still very limited, probably to speed up download times. You can only upload single photos currently. You cannot apply any filters to the image, or upload video, or upload galleries of Instagram Stories. It’s for single images that are ready to go, and that’s okay – because this may have more of an impact than you expect.

Why Instagram Posting without App is a Big Deal

  • More Users: Instagram has made it a lot easier for people to use its services without downloading the app. We probably all know that person who doesn’t want to download a new app on their phones for whatever reason: It just feels like too much work for some people or isn’t feasible on an already overcrowded phone. By removing some of the steps required for posting, Instagram is essentially saying, “It’s all right to be more of a casual user, you can just post right from our site.” That is going to win them a portion of people on the fence about Instagram, and that means their user base will increase yet again, which in turn creates benefits for us all.
  • Rural Use: Instagram is specifically targeting a few different groups with this update. One of them are people using mobile devices in more rural settings where cell service is…spotty, to put it politely. Now users here do not need to download an app (which may not be possible at the moment) or launch one to post, they can go to the faster, less data-heavy mobile site instead. That saves on data plans! Additionally, the update allows you to post on Android devices even if you are offline in a dead zone. That’s good news for B2B brands working on distant sites and off-the-grid locations.
  • Global Compatibility: Another important group that Instagram is targeting are the global users with uncertain cell networks or mobile plans that are too expensive to allow them to download an app like Instagram – a frequent problem throughout the developing world where people want to connect online, but don’t quite have the capacity yet. This move is expected to grow the global Instagram community by assuring them they don’t have to download the app to use Instagram. The user base grows again, and more global connections are possible!
  • Efficient Tasking: Already on the web? Pull up the Instagram site and post your photo: It’s less interrupting to your work, and easier when training new members of the marketing team.

The Larger App Question

We’ve mentioned this a couple times in passing, but Instagram’s move raises the question: Does your brand really need an app? It’s a common bit of advice these days to create an app for greater engagement, but apps aren’t always aligned with your goals, and even the big social media companies recognize that. If your mobile site can do what an app can, it’s probably better to depend on your site instead.

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