Twitter Wants Photos, Not Links, from Instagram Users

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It made news this week when Twitter asked Instagram users to post images directly to Twitter instead of posting a link to the photo on Instagram. When an image is posted on Instagram, the user can choose to send a link to the image to Twitter. An image from Instagram will show up on Facebook when shared there, but Facebook owns Instagram.

Yesterday I heard an interesting talk from Meagan Rhodes (@MeaganNRhodes) about using social media. (She’s worth following on Twitter if you’re interested in social media for your business.) She talked about how millennials are all on Instagram. She’s a young woman herself (at least when compared with me) and much more in touch with what millennials are doing with social media.

I personally don’t mind clicking through from Twitter to see a photo on Instagram, although Meagan said most younger people won’t click. But Twitter wants the original image to be put on Twitter and for the link to Instagram to go away.

There are more active users on Instagram now than there are on Twitter. That’s a big change. There are some reasons for this.

  1. Instagram is all visual. The world is rapidly becoming all visual.
  2. Instagram allows more than 140 characters.
  3. Instagram allows a number of hastags in each post. And additional hashtags can be added later in a comment on your own photo.
  4. Comments on Instagram photos are directly under the photo and don’t require searching back through different threads on Twitter. That means any hashtags associated with photo are right there on the page with the photo.
  5. The Instagram accounts of people who visit and comment on your photo are right there and easy to Follow.

When you list some of the reasons for Instagram’s heavy use by millennials, it becomes clear why Instagram is taking the lead over Twitter and winning the lottery for eyeballs.

It would be good for Twitter if users took their advice and actually posted their photos directly on Twitter. But how would it benefit anyone’s brand, traffic, or image sharing from the Instagram side of things? It would not.

A while back I wrote about adding Instagram photos to your own blog. Everything I said in that post still applies for two reasons. It your blog. It’s not a link to a photo as with Twitter.

3 Ways to Add Instagram to a WordPress Blog

There are several choices open to you if you want to bring in your photos from Instagram into a WordPress blog: You can add a badge from Instagram, use embedding, or choose from a number of plugins.

How to Add Instagram to Your WordPress Blog

Place an Instagram Badge on Your Site

Sign in to your account on Instagram. There’s a “badges” option in the menu. A badge will put an icon on your site that links to your Instagram URL. It doesn’t bring in any images.

Instagram badges

Select a badge type and copy the code. I selected an icon, copied the code, and pasted it into Text view in a post. What showed up was a nifty little Instagram icon that linked to my feed on

If I wanted this type of Instagram badge on my blog, I’d paste the code into a text widget in my sidebar, near my other social media badges and buttons. It doesn’t make much sense to put this icon in a post, because it will get buried over time.

Embed a Single Photo

You can put a single Instagram photo into a blog post using the Instagram “embed” option. Find the icon showing three dots next to the comment box and click it to see the embed option.

Embed a single Instagram photo

Instagram gives you the option to embed a single photo. Copy that code and paste it into the Text view of your post, and the photo will show up.

Instagram’s embed feature allows you to embed other people’s photos in your blog as well. The link to the original image on Instagram is included in the embed code, and shows up when you hover over the word “Instagram.”

Having this link included with the image skirts copyright problems by linking directly to the photo on the Instagram feed of the creator of the image.

WordPress Plugins

With a plugin, you get more than just an occasional image to insert into a post. There are plugins to create image sliders, to back up your Instagram photos to your WordPress database, or to place a small gallery of photos in your sidebar; others do even more. Most of the plugins below only require your Instagram username to work. The last one I mention gives you the option to set it up using the Instagram API.

DsgnWrks Instagram Importer, according to its description, “will allow you to import and backup your Instagram photos to your WordPress site. Includes robust options to allow you to control the imported posts formatting including built-in support for WordPress custom post-types, custom taxonomies, post-formats.” This plugin also imports Instagram video. When you first launch DsgnWrks Instagram Importer, you can set up the import to filter by hashtags or by date. There are a number of custom tags you can use to control the title and content of imported images.

Instagram Picture provides a way to add Instagram images to almost any position in your blog. You can use shortcodes, widgets, and PHP to insert images with this plugin. Here’s a screenshot from the developer of one of the widget styles you can choose with Instagram Picture. This plugin also has a feature for adding individual image to posts.

Instagram Picture plugin

Instagram Slider Widget will display a grid of thumbnails like you saw in the image above, but it also has the option to shows up to 20 images in a slider. You can set the number of images to include in the slider and set a time for how often the plugin goes to Instagram to look for new photos. Instagram Slider Widget has an option to insert the images into your WordPress Media Library, which gives you a backup of your Instagram photos.

Alpine PhotoTile for Instagram offers more options than the plugins mentioned above. It retrieves (but does not back up on WordPress) as many as 100 photos. According to the developer, “The photos can be linked to your Instagram page, a specific URL, or to a Lightbox slideshow. Also, the Shortcode Generator makes it easy to insert the widget into posts without learning any of the code. This lightweight but powerful widget takes advantage of WordPress’s built in JQuery scripts.” The lightbox feature on this plugin sets it apart from the others. Alpine PhotoTile for Instagram will insert photos in a page, a sidebar, or a post. Of all the plugins I’ve mentioned, it has the most and best reviews.

The WordPress plugin directory has many, many Instagram plugins; I’ve only scratched the surface with these four. The ones I’ve highlighted all have good reviews. I suggest you look at the number and quality of reviews when you consider any plugin. If you use a plugin yourself, it’s very helpful to the WordPress community (you) if you return to the plugin page and leave a review.

Keep in mind that a widget that doesn’t store your photos in WordPress, but instead reaches out to Instagram to retrieve photos, may experience delays in loading if the Internet is clogged up that day.

Many Instagram plugins allow you to display not only your own photos, but the photos of people you follow or photos with a particular hashtag. If you choose a plugin with that capability, check carefully for the copyright issues involved, and make sure the original creator of the image is linked to the photo. I can definitely see the value of a post with a slideshow based on a particular hashtag, say #blogher14. Enjoy sharing your Instagram photos on your WordPress blog!

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Pinterest Secret Boards and Instagram Web Interfaces

Let’s talk about how storytelling and a sense of shared experience can make a brand stand out and achieve success. Look at the letter below from Pinterest. This is a brilliant piece of outreach that I’m sure every person with a Pinterest account received just like I did.

Hi, Virginia!
I had two thoughts driving home from the hospital with my wife, Divya. The first was, “I can’t believe I’m a Dad.” The second was, “I hope I can get our new baby, Max, out of that new car seat when we get home.”
During the first couple weeks, we started to figure out all the little things that are second nature for experienced parents: changing diapers, swaddling a wriggly infant, and doing every household task with one arm. As usual, Divya was a few steps ahead of me. When our doctor suggested we buy a humidifier she said, “Oh, I already have one!” When I was getting Max ready for his first bath, she pulled out a neat homemade bath kit, complete with a tiny towel, comb and toothbrush. I felt like I’d forgotten to read a secret New Baby Instruction Manual. In an exasperated moment, I remember asking Divya, “How did you figure all this stuff out already?!” She looked at me and and cheerfully replied, “I just follow other parents on Pinterest!”
Over the last year, there have been so many ways, big and small, that the Pinterest community has made my life better. I’m happy to say that I’m not alone. We’ve heard from teachers who use Pinterest to plan lessons, chefs who share recipes, and museums that pin their archives. We’ve also heard from millions of people who’ve been inspired to pick up an old hobby or try something new. It’s honestly more than we ever expected when we started Pinterest. We’re humbled to be part of such a positive, warm and creative community.
Today, we’re excited to continue this tradition with a new feature we hope will make Pinterest even better—secret boards. Secret boards give you a place for things you’re not quite ready to share yet, like a surprise party, special gift ideas, or even planning for a new baby. We’re testing out the feature by giving everyone 3 secret boards. You’ll find them at the bottom of your profile. We can’t wait to hear what you think!
On behalf of our team here at Pinterest, thanks so much for pinning, inviting your friends, and sending us ideas for how we can improve. Most of all, thanks for sharing your inspirations. With your help, we’ll make Pinterest a little better every day.
—Ben & the Pinterest Team

For comparison, take a look at the way Instagram announced that the mobile app was going to have a web interface. What they have there is well written and friendly just like the Pinterest letter. But Instagram’s notice leaves out one very important fact. The web is merely a display – the guts of the display and the ability to edit what shows up on the web all still happens in the mobile app. For a Flickr user like myself, it was hard to wrap my head around the idea that I couldn’t do anything with the stuff on the web except look at it and share it. You have to go back to the mobile app to do more. Knowing that in advance would have saved me some frustration.

I know the Pinterest letter doesn’t tell me anything about how to work with Secret Boards. Maybe when I get in there are create my first secret board I will discover hidden snares and fume over unanswered questions. But right now, I’m feeling like Pinterest won the +1 for good user communications.

Instagram: Is it for you?

Instagram is a photography app for iPhone. Mashable recently wrote Is Instagram the Next Distribution Opportunity for News Media?, which included an interview with Andy Carvin, a senior strategist at National Public Radio (NPR).

Carvin talked about how NPR is using Instagram to connect with photographers. There’s an NPR Tumblr blog where photos from people around the world are displayed, some of them coming in via Instagram.

After the Mashable article appeared, @rafatali claimed on Twitter that creating a distribution scheme based on Instragram was lame. Carvin countered that NPR was looking to connect with great photos and photographers, and kicking the tires of Instagram was a way to get there.

@rafatali: What’s so lame about it? We’re just kicking the tires and seeing if we can gin up anything interesting there. cc @mathewiMon Jan 03 19:07:31 via TweetDeck

Mashable likes Instagram. When they first reviewed it, Jennifer Van Grove called it a genius idea. She said it turned photos into social works of art.

I like Instagram, too. I was so struck by it that I included it in this post: New Tech Toys for your Blog or Browser and iPhone. I’m not convinced that an iPhone app is ready to create a new media distribution channel, but I’m open to conversion, particularly if the app gets ported to Android and BlackBerry soon.

What is Instagram?

Instagram is a free iPhone app that uses filters to make your photos more artistic. Use it to take a photo, run it through any of the eleven current filters, and send it to any or all of Twitter, Facebook, Posterous, Tumblr, Foursquare and Flickr with one click. In The words “free” and “amazing” are together way too rarely for my tastes, Metalia praised Instagram’s “easy-ass interface and gorgeous filters.”

Here’s a fern that sits behind my desk. I used the Toaster filter on the photo. Seconds after I took it, you could see it on Twitter, Flickr and Instagram on the web. Anyone who saw it on Instagram’s web page could tweet it or share it on Facebook.

But Instagram is a phone app, so the real action takes place there, not on a web page. In the app, you can see popular photos, as in this screen shot.

While in the app, you can view all your photos, find friends and look at their photos, or follow people. Users can comment on photos within Instagram. It sounds a little like Flickr, doesn’t it? But this is all done through your phone, where Flickr often exhibits high quality camera-based photos.

Should you be using it?

For bloggers with Posterous or Tumblr blogs, Instagram is be a no-brainer method of getting photos posted. Right now that only applies to iPhone users. Blurbed is using it on a Tumblr blog. It isn’t restricted to Posterous and Tumblr. Notes from the Trenches is using it on her blog. And My Little Life is using it on a Blogger blog.

There are two missing bits in this app, which I think will be coming eventually with the app’s increasing popularity. The first missing piece is making the app available on Adroid and BlackBerry.

The other missing piece is to let users of WordPress, Blogger, and other blogging tools post the images directly to those blogs, too. It’s a two step process for those blog platforms now. For example, the screen shot of popular Instagram photos is one I took and sent to Flickr with Instagram so I could use it here. Once it was on Flickr, I grabbed the HTML to post it here. Two steps aren’t horribly taxing, but one easy step will mean wider adoption for the app.

For those of you who’ve already tried it, tell us what you think of the app. For those who have not, do you plan to try it?

Cross-posted on BlogHer.

New Tech Toys for your Blog or Browser and iPhone

Some new products were announced recently that bloggers and gadget-geeks will want to check out. The first is from Apture and the second is from Instagram.

For Your Blog or Browser

Apture has been around for a while. It is an in-page search technology that lets you highlight a word on a web page and get search results about the highlighted selection.

There is a Firefox Apture plugin that enables you to use Apture anywhere on any page you see in Firefox. Here’s how it looks. I highlighted the word Gawker in a BlogHer page I was reading in Firefox.


I clicked Learn More and this window appeared.


If you follow any of the links, they are shown in a window over your current page, which you read and close without ever leaving the page you are on. No more opening a special tab for a Google search when you have this installed in your browser.

Apture made news when it announced it will be used inside a publishing tool called Scribd. This is not Apture’s first partnership. It’s already in use in places like The Reader’s Digest and The Wall Street Journal. Scribd specializes in what it calls social publishing. Just about any kind of document you can think of can be published there by members. Once published, documents can be read on the web, in a mobile device or an e-reader. Documents published by Scribd can be shared on Facebook or Twitter or embedded in a blog page.

Here’s part of Apture’s announcement:

Apture Highlights will be integrated across, the largest online social reading and publishing site in the world. This will empower readers to explore multimedia about what they are reading by simply highlighting text – creating a new kind of enhanced multi-media reading experience in documents, made possible by Scribd’s unique HTML5 technology.

Scobleizer called the teaming up of Apture and Scribd the beginning of a “more usable web.”

You can install an Apture plugin in your WordPress blog, so that your readers can find relevant content without ever leaving your page no matter whether they have the Firefox addon or not. With the Apture plugin installed in WordPress, there are two new buttons added to your editing window. One for making hyperlinks and other for embedding content. Apture searches for references, video, images, audio, maps, news, people or other content that can be added to your post.

Kim Pearson used embedded video in Remembering Paul Robeson. She used Apture to embed documents in Distributed Expertise in Enhancing Computing Education With Connections to the Arts. You can see a couple of images of gadgets I found with the Apture plug in for WordPress on Web Teacher. With Apture, you are able to embed interesting content in your site to keep people around longer.

One thing to look out for: if you install the Firefox extension, the WordPress plug in may not work right. This is temporary. I had a problem with the plugin and wrote to Apture support, who answered almost immediately (wow!) and told me to disable the Firefox extension for a few days until they fix the bug.

For Your iPhone

The new toy for your phone is Instagram. It’s a free app that makes publishing the photos from your iPhone easier.

Before Instagram, to send a photo from my phone I had to take the photo and then open some other app like Twitter to post it where I wanted it. With Instagram, as soon as I take a photo with the app, it shoots out to either Facebook, Twitter or Flickr – or all three at once – depending on how I set it up.

Here’s how Instagram does a tweet. The image is sent to an Instagram page.

That Instagram image becomes part of a rotating display of images rather like what you see on Flickr when you click the explore button. It is public to everyone. Naturally, you can set up a list of people whose images you want to watch on Instagram; a friends list, if you will.

If you send it to Flickr, the image becomes one more item in your Flickr stream, not an image on the Instagram site. With Facebook, the image goes into your photos there.

More Resources

Cross-posted at BlogHer.