With its eyes on a web3 future, Meta has been looking for new ways to evolve its famous platforms. In Instagram, it has spotted a synergy between the visually-driven social media brand and the world of NFTs (non-fungible tokens). Afterall, the emergence of NFTs has been intertwined with the art sphere.
While this news marks an exciting new direction for the platform, it’s still relatively early days in this journey. So, what does this announcement mean for creators, and how can brands and marketers get in on the action? Alexandra Edmonds, product marketing lead for Creator Blockchain Experiences, Instagram shares the vision for Insta’s NFT-fuelled future.
LBB> In terms of the most recent development, the ability to not just display NFTs but to mint and sell them via Instagram, why was that a priority for the platform?
Alexandra> Every day, creators on Instagram inspire people and push culture forward around the world by producing original work, building new communities, and strengthening connections with their closest fans. NFTs enable creators to do all of these things, while also giving them more control and helping them to monetise. Given the amount of creativity we see every day on the platform, we believe Instagram is the perfect place to start.
By introducing NFTs on our platforms in ways that make them easier to use, we’re opening up new opportunities for people to connect with and support their favourite creators. In turn, creators can give their community more ways to support them. With the new features, we’re currently testing with a small group in the US, where creators can create and then sell digital collectibles to fans wherever they are - either on or off Instagram.
While the metaverse is still in its infancy, technologies such as NFTs are already offering new ways to create value and connect with others, and we believe that even more opportunities will emerge as we continue to build for the future.
LBB> What will make Instagram's NFT/collectible-minting space different from other NFT minting websites and market places?
Alexandra> On Meta’s platforms, millions of creators already express themselves creatively and build fan communities. The expansion of NFTs gives creators a chance to engage their already-established communities, whilst also making it easier for new audiences to enter the digital collectibles space.
What the new features that I mentioned amount to is an end-to-end toolkit for creators — from creation and showcasing, to selling of digital collectibles. Creators will be able to experiment with digital collectibles using intuitive mobile-first creation tools. Fans can easily support their favourite creators within Instagram by using a credit or debit card to buy collectibles. This is an area which is still new for so many, and what we hope we can add to the ecosystem is making it accessible, understandable, and enable creators to demonstrate its potential to new audiences.
LBB> What does it mean for creators and artists on the platform?
Alexandra> We want to empower creators to do what they do best - whether that’s making original art, building new experiences, or connecting with their communities. NFTs and blockchain technology enable creators to do just that, all while giving them more control over their work, more independence, and more ways to make a living from their passions and talents.
NFTs are also empowering creators to experiment with entirely new forms of creative expression and immersive storytelling through experiences enabled by AR technology. We’re really excited to see the creativity that comes out of this innovation, given we’ve seen such inspiring work already in so many areas - across generative art, photography, fashion, sport, entertainment - the list goes on! With the intuitive and accessible tools we are now testing, we want to enable more and more creators to experiment in this space and drive culture forward in new and exciting ways.
LBB> From Instagram's point of view, what is the business case for doing this? Will it be a revenue generator, or is it about attracting new kinds of users to the platform?
Alexandra> At Meta, we know that creators are the lifeblood of our platform. We are constantly looking for new ways to support them and the communities they build. We’re exploring blockchain technologies, like NFTs, because we believe they will expand access, empower, and accelerate innovation for creators, businesses, and people around the world.
There are no fees associated with sharing digital collectibles on Instagram. Meta won’t charge fees to create or sell digital collectibles until 2024 (though in-app purchases are still subject to app store fees), and at launch we’ll be covering blockchain fees (known as ‘gas fees’) for buyers.
LBB> Will this capacity to mint and sell NFTs be available for brands/advertisers on the platform?
Alexandra> We hope to be able to expand the ability to create, buy and sell digital collectibles directly on Instagram to more people in the coming months.
LBB> More broadly, what else should brands/advertisers know about NFTs on Instagram? Where do you see this fitting in with brands' own web3 strategies?
Alexandra> It’s early days, but we hope that with digital collectibles, businesses and creators will have the power to create meaningful connections with their communities or customers. By creating digital goods that people can browse, buy, sell and share, creators and brands alike will be able to inspire entirely new forms of commerce.
LBB> What's the long term vision for NFTs/digital collectibles and Instagram?
Alexandra> We are at the beginning of the journey with digital collectibles, which means we are testing, iterating and listening to feedback. Digital collectibles are already offering new ways to create value and connect with others, and we believe that even more opportunities will emerge as we continue to build for the future.
LBB> Instagram has been testing its various NFT tools with small groups of creators - what have been some of the interesting or surprising insights you've come across in those pilots?
Alexandra> Since testing of digital collectibles creation and selling features started in early November, we have been so inspired by the creators who have made such unique pieces of art and found support from fans on Instagram. We have partnered with many creators to test these new features which sold out their digital collectibles collections in minutes! The reception from their communities has been overwhelmingly positive, and testament to the role digital collectibles can play in enabling creators and their fans to build even more meaningful connections.