While they've been floating around for some time, Instagram is this week officially rolling out its nametag codes to all users.
Now you can quickly add friends on Instagram by scanning their nametags. You can also customize your own nametag with emojis, colors and selfies. pic.twitter.com/fq4HFNiDMy— Instagram (@instagram) October 4, 2018
As you can see, nametags on Instagram enable you to scan in another users' code via the Instagram camera, which brings up a preview of their profile and a quick follow link.
"You can personalize your nametag by touching anywhere on the screen or by tapping the button at the top to try other designs, such as colors, emojis and selfies with different stickers. To scan someone’s nametag, you can either swipe right into the camera, hover over the nametag and hold down on your screen, or enter the camera by tapping “Scan a nametag” when viewing your own. You can also share your nametag with friends through text messages and over other platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp. Just press the arrow at the top right of your nametag."
Nametags are much the same as Snapcodes on Snapchat, or Messenger Codes on Facebook Messenger - in fact, almost every platform now has some variation of scannable codes to quickly connect.
Why are social platforms so keen to keep pushing QR code options, despite their seemingly low usage?
There are various reasons, but mostly they come down to one point - 'it's not all about you'.
In western nations, QR codes aren't highly popular, they're not used a heap, despite their availability. But in other regions, they're a much bigger deal.
According to The Economist, QR codes are big in China and Japan, with QR code-enabled transactions totaling more than $1.65 trillion in these two countries in 2016 (yes, 'trillion' with a 't'). That may be why social platforms see such opportunity in the option – maybe western markets aren’t as interested in QR codes, but there are huge groups of people who are, and those trends could translate across over time, making it a more significant consideration.
On Instagram, 80% of its users are outside the US, and while the app is not available in China, it is in Japan, where it saw a 43% increase in usage last year. In that context, the addition of nametag codes makes more sense, while it'll also make it easier for users everywhere to connect.
As noted, some users would already have seen nametag codes in the app - they've been in testing since April - but they're now being made available globally on both iOS and Android devices. And they could be an interesting consideration for your brand campaigns - maybe a poster to put up in your store or at a market stall to help people connect to your brand profile.
In addition to nametags, Instagram's also begun testing School Communities in the US, which "let you show off your school spirit and connect with other students and recent grads from your university in a common space."
The option enables you to add a new line to your Instagram profile which lists your university, class year and any relevant groups you're in. As shown in the third screenshot above, users can also view a directory listing all the people, sorted by class year, who've added a university.
What's particularly interesting with this (as pointed out by The Verge's Casey Newton) is that it goes back to how parent company Facebook started. When Mark Zuckerberg created Facebook - then called 'Facemash' - it was originally intended to be a directory of people at Harvard University, essentially a 'Hot or Not' style rating site.
It's hard to see this being anything more than same - no doubt students will use this tool to get more info on people they see around campus, a kind of creepy, stalker-type directory.
Or maybe a highly beneficial connection tool for incoming students to connect for academic gain. Who can say?
Either way, it's now being tested in some US universities. Also an important note - TechCrunch says that the option will be via invite only to avoid outsiders tapping into school networks.
It's interesting to see where Instagram is going, and what it's focused on, with growth still obviously a key driver, despite the app now serving a billion plus users. These new tools may not add a heap, but they do provide more options for connection.