Instagram to become a Challenge to Yelp

Instagram, the photo-sharing application owned by Facebook Inc., will soon let people book appointments with businesses, part of an effort to expand the app’s consumer uses.

People will be able to set up a haircut, for example, by going to a salon’s Instagram profile and clicking on a button to schedule it. The move could challenge companies like Priceline Group Inc.’s OpenTable and Yelp Inc. 

The new feature, set to roll out in the next couple months, will give the photo-sharing application’s more than 1 million active advertisers a more concrete way to measure the impact of their accounts, said James Quarles, the app’s head of business.

The ability to make appointments via Instagram will take on services like Yelp and OpenTable, which offer crowdsourced reviews and photos from the business before letting users book a visit. Businesses use the photo-sharing application to advertise in a much more visual way, which is helpful for beauty and food industries as those are arguably some of the more popular categories of photos on the platform.

About 8 million businesses currently use profiles on the photo-sharing application, which the app is working to link to Facebook business profiles, Quarles said. Eighty percent of Instagram’s users follow a business.

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