Instagram wants to make it easier to find and follow people you know and it’s — surprise, surprise — turning to a feature originally made popular by Snapchat.
The app is adding a new “nametag” feature, which is essentially the Instagram version of Snapchat’s Snap Codes. The feature is rolling out now to Instagram’s iOS and Android app.
Instagram is likely hoping the feature will introduce the same kind of low-key information swapping as Snap Codes have for Snapchat. Instead of having to ask people for their Instagram handle, which may feel like an awkward interaction particularly for younger users, they can simply share and scan each other’s nametag.
It’s also notable that the feature appears in the relatively new side menu (the menu that appears in the top right corner of Instagram profiles). The menu, which also links to saved posts, friend suggestions, and Facebook, is itself a relatively new feature (it was added in August).
Some have speculated Instagram plans to use that menu to house new features meant to boost engagement and, possibly, add more tie-ins with Facebook. The latter has become somewhat controversial in the wake of Instagram’s two cofounders suddenly leaving their roles atop the company amid reports that Facebook was becoming too controlling.
In addition to nametags, Instagram also revealed more about its tests of a new “school communities” feature, which makes it easier for users at the same university to find each other. The feature, which was first reported in August, lets you add your school and graduation year to your profile, as well as organizations you may belong to, like a sports team or sorority.
After you’ve added a school, your profile will be added to that university’s directory where other students can browse and search profiles by class year. Instagram declined to say which universities are part of the initial test, but noted it’s at schools “across the U.S.” with plans to expand in the future.
The concept, though, is remarkably similar to the university-based “networks” from Facebook’s early days, when the social network was limited to college students.
As with the nametag feature, which is also billed as a “back to school” update, Instagram is clearly using school communities to go after younger users — a key demographic for Snapchat. Like with nametags, school communities gives younger users a way to easily discover the Instagram profiles of people they know while avoiding the awkwardness of asking outright.