Instagram will let you book appointments to become more like Yelp and OpenTable

The Facebook-owned app wants to give you more reasons to interact with businesses.

instagram app food taking photo
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Need to book an appointment? Soon you won’t even need to leave the Instagram app to do that.

In the next couple of months, Instagram is planning to give its users the ability to book appointments in-app, according to Bloomberg. Instagram hopes this new feature will give users more of an incentive to interact with business profiles. It will also help businesses better measure the impact of running an Instagram account, and potentially drive them to advertise more on the platform.

“When someone books an appointment, that’s not a ‘like’ or a ‘follow,’ that’s actual action,” Instagram’s head of business James Quarles told Bloomberg.

The example presented is that people will be able to book an appointment to get a haircut by going to a salon’s Instagram profile and tapping a button. In theory this could apply to booking an appointment at a spa or at a tattoo parlor.

But it’s unclear whether customers will be able to choose a time and confirm the booking completely in-app or if they will have to follow an external link to the business website.

In addition, Instagram did not clarify whether this feature will extend to include restaurant reservations. But Instagram is also exploring the ability to leave reviews for business profiles. 

Why this matters: According to Instagram, there are nearly 8 million business profiles on the platform with 80 percent of users following at least one of these businesses. Some of these business profiles have garnered a lot of success amassing tons of followers and likes, but winning a social popularity contest doesn’t necessarily translate to sales. Now, Instagram is giving businesses a concrete measure to help justify their presence and any potential advertising budget.

This feature clearly takes a bite out of Yelp’s bread-and-butter, especially if reviews are incorporated in the near future. And if Instagram expands into facilitating restaurant reservations, which would be the real game-changer here, then services OpenTable might start feeling the heat as well.

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