“What’s a photo map?”
If you happened to log on to Instagram on Thursday, Aug. 16, to see what your friends had for lunch or laugh at a random meme someone posted, that question probably popped in your head as a new feature showed up in your notification feed.
So aside from it being a surprise for most users who first saw it, what exactly is it?
Photo map is a new feature within Instagram’s new 3.0 upgrade which the company announced on its corporate blog. It appears on your profile page as a new way to showcase your photos where they were taken. In a way, Instagram has enabled users to take their followers with them virtually in their travels and also be able to connect with other users who may be nearby.
“With every major release, we pick a theme—and for this one we’ve focused on the browsing experience. We’ve introduced a new and unique way to browse your photos and others’ photos on a map, which means you’re no longer constrained to browsing through page after page of photos,” Instagram says on its blog.
So now that we know where our followers are, assuming they turn their location on, what impact will this new feature have on organizations as they use the photo-based social network to promote their brands?
In an interview with Forbes, Instagram CEO Kevin Systrom said: “Imagine the power of surfacing what’s happening in the world through images, and potentially other types of media in the future, to each and every person who holds a mobile phone.”
Danielle Brigida, manager of social media, National Wildlife Federation, and featured speaker at PR News' upcoming Social Media Measurement Conference in New York, believes the photo map feature offers potential in three key areas:
1. It opens the door for the continued use of the geo-tagging feature while encouraging Instagram users to add things they may want to remember to their map (vacation, memorable moments, good restaurants, for example).
2. While the API has always been available, it will be a reminder that brands could use the API information on their Web sites/pages.
3. For an organization like the National Wildlife Federation, Instagram photo maps can serve as a useful tool for determining everything from invasive plants to rare wildlife sightings. If an organization is looking for location information on their users (and the users don't mind sharing it) then it can't hurt to be creative and use this a research opportunity.
Follow Jamar Hudson: @jamarhudson