A couple of days ago I was talking to a fellow tech journalist. And we were discussing how Instagram appeared to have stopped taking leafs out of Snapchat’s book. Well, the conversation seems to have jinxed the streak and the photo sharing platform has announced a brand new feature “Scannable Nametags” that is quite reminiscent of Snapchat’s QR codes.

So here is what the Nametags do: You meet someone in real life, you scan their Nametag using your smartphone, and hey presto! You will now receive updates and notifications whenever that person posts a new picture. In short, you will start following them.

You can also create your own Nametags by clicking on the menu icon at the top of your profile. Instagram is giving users yet another change to show off their inner Picasso, and you can personalize your Nametag with emojis, colors, selfies, and so on and so forth. Once your Nametag is ready, others can choose to follow you by tapping and holding on your code through Instagram Stories camera, or by using the ‘Scan Nametag’ button.

The Nametags are extremely shareable, and you can put them up on social profiles, or send them via SMS, WhatsApp, Messenger etc. Now you might just be wondering, why this bother with Nametags at all? Why not simply send the link instead? Well, let’s someone opens your website via his/her PC, but isn’t logged in to Instagram. What are they to do? Well, now they have the option of whipping out their phones, scanning your Nametag, and voila!

Nametags also have huge potential for brands. For example, they can put up their Nametags on billboards, on top of their merchandise, packaging, and folks would be able to follow them with a single scan. Nice!

Another new feature that Instagram is currently resting, has to do with community building. Aimed at students, the feature will let users to join their university network and add a line to their profiles. The line will list stuff like school, class year, major, sports team etc. and will allow for the creation for directories. People within those directories will be able to easily seek each other out whether they are classmates, batchmates, or alumnus.

Of course, there is potential for misuse. However, Instagram has included a slew of features that should allow users to protect themselves. The option to use university emails to register is not available at present, however qualified users will get a notification prompting them to join the already available network. Instagram will determine these users based upon the publicly available profile information, and the people that they follow.

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