Instagram and APIs: What You Need to Know

Instagram is one of the most popular social media platforms in the world. Millions of people use Instagram everyday, and most of these users are customers simply looking at their feeds, liking pictures from friends and celebrities alike. There is a large group of users on Instagram that are there for business. Companies large and small can create business accounts separate from the common user account most people have.

The option to make a business account caters to companies who want to take advantage of Instagram’s wide reach and tools designed for businesses. One of the tools Instagram provides for businesses is the Instagram API. 

An API stands for application programming interface. APIs are what let programs talk to and work with other programs seamlessly. An easy example is when you enter your credit card information into a website to buy something. An API takes your card information and sends it to another application through an API to verify the card information is correct. APIs are used everywhere, their use is not limited to any one industry or use situation. The Instagram API alone has several uses any business can take advantage of. 

Search Tags and Trending

One of the most basic functions of the Instagram API is searching through hashtags. Marketing campaigns benefit greatly from being able to search through tags in real time. Using this search ability, you can make something far more interesting than a list of posts containing a particular hashtag. One Instagram creator used the tag search function to create an interactive map of pictures posted with a specific tag. 

You can search for more than tags with the Instagram API. You can also search for posts by what is trending or popular. Of course, this feature lets you see the most popular posts for that day, but it can do a lot more. The ability to sort posts by what is popular is a great analysis tool. Companies can track what products are garnering the most attention and what types of photos are doing well. Companies can see if their ad campaign has picked up traffic, if their product is trending, or even how their competition is doing. 

Real Time Location Posts

Have you ever wondered what people from Washington are posting on Instagram? What about users in another country? Have you ever been curious about what people in Japan post on Instagram? The API allows you to see posts from around the world in real-time. This ability is great for seeing what is happening around the world either for fun or business research. 

From Instagram to Your Website

Posting images from Instagram on other websites, business or personal, is perhaps the most common use for the Instagram API. The posted pictures can be from a particular Instagram account or from general tags created by other users. Users can create galleries of images or photo streams that automatically update when new pictures become available. Being able to use Instagram pictures on other websites means you are generally using better quality pictures with more personality than stock photos. Be sure to properly credit the pictures you pull from Instagram and replace any pictures that are no longer available. 


You likely have seen ads on Instagram, but you can also buy items directly from Instagram through their eCommerce marketplace. Buying anything online means the purchased items need to be shipped to you. Obviously, your items will be shipped to the address you entered during checkout, but there are some steps you don’t see when you place an order.

One of these hidden steps is address verification. An API takes the mailing address you entered and ensures it is a valid address. The API can also suggest changes to an entered address to make it valid. Without this step, you run the risk of an excessive amount of packages returned to sender. The last thing you want is your products being sent back due to an invalid address. 

Instagram and APIs are a perfect partnership. The capabilities of the Instagram API are great for businesses looking to expand on the platform. You can even add other APIs to the mix for even better results. 

Nick Rojas combines 20 years of experience working with and consulting for small to medium business and a passion for journalism to help readers grow. He writes about technology, marketing, and social media for the aspiring entrepreneur. When Nick is not sharing his expertise, he can be found spending time at the beach with his dog Presto.