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Instagram adds NFT toolkit 📱

NFTs + social media = the next big thing?
William M. Peaster William M. Peaster Nov 3, 20225 min read
Instagram adds NFT toolkit 📱

Dear Bankless Nation,

In my recent write-up on Reddit avatar NFTs, I speculated we could soon see other social media giants making big NFT pivots.

It didn’t take long for that speculation to bear out, as this week Mark Zuckerberg’s Meta announced it would be launching an “end-to-end” NFT toolkit for Instagram users.

Love it or hate it, the news is huge.

By huge I mean the potential reach of this development is literally massive, seeing as how Instagram has +1.4 billion users. That’s 18% of everyone in the world!

Let’s dive into what we can expect from this NFT toolkit and also touch on the rise of web3’s native social media ecosystem for today’s post!


Instagram goes long on NFTs

What’s new

This week Meta revealed it would soon introduce the ability for users to create, buy, and sell digital collectibles — i.e. NFTs — on Instagram.

The announcement noted:

[Creators will] have an end-to-end toolkit — from creation (starting on the Polygon blockchain) and showcasing, to selling. People can easily support their favorite creators by buying their digital collectibles directly within Instagram. We’re testing these new features with a small group of creators in the US first, and hope to expand to more countries soon.”

Little more is known for now.

However, Meta has confirmed Instagram collectibles will be tradable outside of Instagram, for example on NFT marketplaces like OpenSea.

Additionally, the metadata for these collectibles will be underpinned by Arweave, a decentralized data storage network that’s surged in popularity in the NFT ecosystem over the past couple of years.

The context

The news of the NFT toolkit rollout comes as Meta has been ramping up its digital collectibles plans this year. A timeline of the company’s prior collectibles developments is as follows:

  • May 2022 Meta started testing the ability to connect wallets and display Ethereum, Polygon, and Flow NFTs on Facebook or Instagram
  • August 2022 Meta expanded its NFT tests to users in 100 additional countries, added support for new wallets like Coinbase Wallet, and activated collectibles crossposting across Facebook and Instagram
  • September 2022 Meta opened its digital collectibles features to all Facebook and Instagram users in the U.S.

Why it matters

With nearly 3 million minted to date, Reddit Collectible Avatars have introduced a whole new “normie” audience to the world of NFTs.

For perspective, though, Reddit has something like 50 million daily active users (DAUs) right now, while Instagram has 10x that reach at 500 million DAUs.

That means Instagram’s digital collectibles program has the potential to reach an absolutely massive amount of people going forward. There are +200 million businesses on Instagram alone, for example!

If even a fraction of these users and businesses embrace NFTs via Instagram in the years ahead, then the size of the NFT ecosystem and its user base is poised to swell rapidly soon.

Who’s next?

Ark Investment Management CEO Cathie Wood recently told Bloomberg (~16:00 min. mark) that she wouldn’t be surprised to see Twitter start work on its own crypto wallet.

I wouldn’t be surprised either.

Of course, Twitter already supports adding Ethereum NFT profile pictures via wallets like Coinbase Wallet, MetaMask, and Rainbow. The platform also just began testing NFT Tweet Tiles:

The crypto community is one of Twitter’s most active user groups, and the NFT ecosystem is a significant part of these activity levels, so Twitter’s leadership may eventually decide that offering even more direct crypto and NFT services — e.g. a native Twitter wallet — is a win-win for the company.

Decentralized social media rising, too

In web3, we use tech like blockchain and NFTs to further decentralization.

Why decentralization? Because the concentration of power in culture and finance leads to all sorts of top-down abuses and disparities.

In building with blockchain and NFTs, we seek to level the playing field in bottom-up fashion to give everyone a say and access to open empowering tools they can use to take better control of their own journeys.

All that said, decentralized social media — i.e. projects that are built natively on web3 tech — is one area of interest that’s seeing a tremendous surge of building and experimentation lately.

No project exemplifies this recent blooming more than Lens Protocol, an NFT-based social graph system built on Polygon that’s designed to serve as a foundation for an ecosystem of decentralized social network apps.

To be sure, Lens, its ecosystem, and the decentralized social media sector in general are incredibly early on. We’re still at least a couple years away from these solutions being able to handle massive user bases. Yet the early progress around these web3 social plays is encouraging and gives us hope they’ll be ready for the limelight soon enough.

Polygon the home of web3 social?

Reddit, Instagram, Lens — what do they have in common? They’re all relying on Polygon, the Ethereum scaling solution, to support their early NFT efforts.

Indeed, Reddit avatars are minted on Polygon, Instagram is starting its collectibles program on Polygon, Lens profiles and posts are minted on Polygon, etc.

With its affordable and rapid transactions, plus its scaling roadmap and bizdev efforts, the Polygon team has been on a tear when it comes to locking down the early makings of a teeming social media scene. At this rate, don’t be surprised if other mainstream social media companies make their way to Polygon.

William M. Peaster

Written by William M. Peaster

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William M. Peaster, Senior Writer, has been with Bankless since January 2021. Immersed in Ethereum since 2017, he writes the Metaversal newsletter on the onchain frontier, covering everything from AI projects to crypto games, as the team’s lead NFT analyst. With a background in creative writing, he writes fiction and publishes art on Ethereum in his free time. He lives in Washington.

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