Instagram is making its way to Web3 (better late than never). Yesterday, the Meta-owned social media mecca announced its plans to incorporate blockchain technology- joining the likes of Twitter and Tiktok. Set to pilot as early as Monday, Instagram will begin to feature NFTs. Utilizing some of the most prominent blockchain networks, the platform plans to launch a space for creators and collectors to share NFTs in feeds, stories, and messages.
For the initial rollout, the platform will integrate with NFTs on the Ethereum, Polygon, Solana, and Flow blockchains. Initially featuring works from a small group of well-known artists and influencers, Instagram plans to grow the creator-base as the update evolves. Since Instagram is centralized and still unraveling how to overlap with blockchain technologies, launching with a select number of creators allows the platform to expand as Meta gains insight. Unlike other platforms, the social hub has clarified that “there will be no fees associated with posting or sharing digital collectibles on Instagram.” Today, Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri took to IG reels to announce the extension:
“Now, we think one really interesting opportunity for a subset of creators is NFTs… NFTs and blockchain Technology – and Web3 more broadly – are all about distributing trust distributing power. But Instagram is fundamentally a centralized platform, so there’s a tension there. So one of the reasons why we are starting small is we want to make sure that we can learn from the community. We want to make sure that we work out how to embrace those tenants of distributed trust and distributed power, despite the fact that we are, yes, a centralized platform.” Mossery explained.
The “tension” Mosseri may be referring to is the possibility of repeating the wreckage of TikTok’s failed Web3 experiment. To jog your memory, last year, TikTok made headlines for its attempts to merge social media with Web3 technologies. In October, the platform announced plans to roll out a series of NFTs from top creators dubbed ‘TikTok Moments’. TikTok intended for the one-of collection to be “designed by…community-defining creators, and inspired by the trending videos they created.” The drop was set to roll out with Tik Tok heavy hitters Lil Nas X, Grimes, and Curtis Roach (2.1 Million Followers). Failing to deliver products by release dates, the project was described by sources as “messy.” While TikTok released six NFTs, three of the “community-defining creators” set to participate in the project, including Lil Nas X, and Grimes abandoned the effort.
“I’m glad mine was able to happen, but it’s unfortunate that it wasn’t all six that were supposed to happen,” explained Tik Tok creator and project participant Jess Marciante.
Not long after the Tik Tok NFT blunder, Twitter took to the chain. Earlier this year, the platform released an upgraded version of its premium membership Twitter Blue. For a whopping $2.99 a month, users can upload their NFT as their profile picture (mind = blown). Twitter’s Web3 community had mixed reviews leaning toward negative on the lackluster update. While some expected the update to be a turning point for social media, others questioned if Twitter intended to build in Web3 or promote their product. “They’re paying attention to what we’re doing, but we aren’t considered the influencers of those executions; I don’t know any of us in pilot programs, and maybe I just haven’t been informed, but the things that I know are happening happen around what their interest is — to sell Blue, their product,” explained prominent NFT community member Mec.eth.
From Tik Tok’s project implosion to Twitter’s shifty web3 entrance, the real question is: Was Meta taking notes?
Instagram’s concept differentiates itself from previous attempts by social platforms to enter the space. While Instagram’s project shares similarities with TikTok’s rollout – utilizing a small group of creators with a substantial following to start – Instagram seems to be focused on the community’s growth rather than strictly NFT sales. While building community is a shared priority amongst Web3 and social media, the idea of “distributing trust and power,” as Mosseri suggested, is new to centralized platforms. Positioning Instagram’s NFT update around building the web3 community puts the platform at an advantage. Honing in Web3’s strong community values will set the social platform up to grow in the space.
As Instagram joins the social platforms pushing towards Web3, Meta continues teasing Facebook’s blockchain expansion. In a statement, Meta CEO Mars Zuckerberg explained, “We’re starting building for NFTs not just in our metaverse, and Reality Labs work, but also across our family of apps. We’re going to bring similar functionality to Facebook soon.”
Social Media Platforms’ push to incorporate NFTs is moving blockchain technology further into the mainstream. As centralized platforms cater to growing Web3 communities, the technology will become more accessible for mass adoption. With the shift, Blockster can’t help but fantasize over a future of “NFTs, or it didn’t happen.”