On November 2, beleaguered Facebook and Instagram owner Meta announced that it is testing functions to allow creators to mint their own NFTs on the Polygon blockchain and sell them to fans both on and off of Instagram. Instagram is also adding the Solana blockchain and Phantom wallet to the list of blockchains and wallets that it already supports. In addition, Instagram will display information for select collections where the metadata has been enriched by OpenSea.
The new NFT features are currently only available to a small group of U.S.-based creators, although Meta stated that it hopes to expand them to more countries. Accompanying the new features are other measures to support creators, including the ability to create professional Facebook profiles and receive gifts from fans on Instagram. Instagram also expanded the subscription system to all eligible U.S.-based creators so that they can receive more predictable monthly income and foster more intimate interactions with followers. (Basically, siphoning yet more features from key rival TikTok.)
Meta’s recent announcement could have a major impact on independent artists. Minting, marketing, and selling NFTs on Instagram allows artists to market themselves to a broader audience with relative ease, compared to dedicated NFT platforms. Given that Instagram is a widely known social media app, creators will face a lower entry barrier when embarking on their journeys of NFT creations. Indeed, as Amber Vittoria, one of the selected artists given first access to the NFT features, put it: “My hope is this feature empowers artists to more heavily explore Web3.”
From Meta’s perspective, Instagram’s still-vast active user base, currently estimated at over 2.3 billion, will expose more average users to the concept of digital arts and, by extension, the metaverse. This could add much-needed momentum to boost its struggling metaverse initiative, which has received a lukewarm reaction from consumers and investors alike.
It is still too early to tell if Instagram will be a go-to platform for NFT creations going forward. Nevertheless, Instagram’s embrace of NFTs signifies a tighter integration between the NFT community and social media. It is very possible that independent artists and cultural institutions will look to Instagram as the starting point to enlarge their artistic Web3 footprint.