An alternative for embedded Instagram feeds in 2020

3 min readMar 3, 2020

This isn’t the cure-all you’re looking for, but it may work for your current static website project.

Bye Instagram API

The official Instagram API has been becoming more and more restrictive since the late-2010s. In 2020 the now-legacy API will seize to function and has already stopped generating new User Tokens. Instagram’s new API can be found as part of Facebook’s development tools but requires more advanced methods of getting things that used to be simple like getting a user’s feed to embed and style on a webpage. While this solution will work for more complicated websites with backends or CMS, simple static sites will rely on a 3rd party service to pull feeds into web pages — but that’s another service to rely on, cost and is just not fun.

Your client needs it; you’re in a tough spot

I think the first question to ask is “why?”. This isn’t to discourage the client or to put them on their heels but to identify what they are looking to gain out of it. They may be looking to gain followers, keep their customers updated or simply show off their work.

Scenario: Displaying Past Work

Displaying past work is by far the most frequent reason I encounter with my small business clients. I was recently working on a website for a screen printer that wanted the Instagram feed to be featured to show off all the great work they’ve done. Together we determined it wasn’t completely necessary to always display the newest posts. Instead, we created a list of posts that showed all kinds of projects from their feed. We pulled the images, descriptions, and links of those posts and placed them into the website code. This is where we can really have fun with it since we control the data and can display it however we’d like. From there, they are randomized and all but 3 are hidden.

Each page refresh pulls 3 random posts from the information we included

From there they can interact with the Instagram posts through a click or tap which brings up the post’s embed code, from Instagram, in a modal. Users can also see all of the posts we pulled on a dedicated “Customer Highlights” page that shows all of the posts to give visitors inspiration for their projects.

In Conclusion

As I said in the very beginning, this isn’t a solution for every scenario, but it could fulfill the needs of the business you’re working with by showing visitors variety and still promoting content from Instagram. You could update the collection of posts over some time to keep maintenance low but one thing that this method can guarantee is that the posts won’t randomly disappear like a lot of feeds using the legacy API. I hope to reduce load times by using a JSON approach in the future and to find ways to automate this on a static site. If you have any solutions you’ve been using, please feel free to share them with me.

Thanks for reading.