It’s always a good month for Instagram updates, no matter how big or how small, and this month is no exception!
Last month was a huge month for Instagram Updates, with all sorts of really big new features being dropped and announced (hello, scheduling).
This month’s updates are a little smaller, with several being rumors of new features possibly in development, but that doesn’t make them any less important.
We’ve got some new privacy controls, along with some glimpses at big new features that Instagram may be quietly developing behind the scenes.
Are you ready to see what’s new with Instagram this month, and what we think is on the horizon?
Let’s jump in!
New Replay Privacy Controls
There’s no denying that Instagram has copied Snapchat more than a few times, especially when it comes to the tell-tale Stories feature that’s basically an exact replica of Snapchat. Despite the fact that Snapchat did it first, however, Instagram has consistently released new features to the point where they do it better.
A prime example of this is the replay privacy controls. When users send a direct message in Snapchat, there’s no way to control how many times someone replays it, though they can only continue to view the private message for a short period of time. Instagram let’s users decide whether they want the recipient of the message to be able to play it just once, or allow multiple replays.
Now, they’ve added a new and original option, which is the “keep in chat” privacy option. This will keep the image or video permanently available as a thumbnail in chat. This gives users and businesses contacting them more flexibility, sharing private messages that are meant to be available on a more permanent basis.
For businesses who use private messages and images to send out exclusive offers and discount codes to customers, this can work to your advantage if you choose to extend it’s life, giving users a coupon code that they can use at any time (even if only once). This is a strategy I’ve used several times with my own clients, so it will be nice to have a little more flexibility with how long users have to come in store with the coupon code.
Rolled Out Access to Last Month’s Stories Features
Last month we got previews at a lot of new features that many of us– myself included– didn’t have just yet. If you’re waiting on any of them, go ahead and update your app and see if you have access yet, because a lot of these features have rolled out.
- API scheduling, and using third-party scheduling apps like Hootsuite to now post directly to Instagram (instead of just getting an alert for you to do so)
- Type Mode for Stories, which allows you to create a story without any image or video
- The ability to post Instagram Stories in all sizes and formats, having it stretched to fit the screen (just pinch and tap the screen to accomplish this)
Remember to always keep your Instagram app up to date, as this will give you quicker access to new features and give you access to bug fixes, too.
Instagram Updates Potentially in Development
The next three updates are all marked “potentially in development” and have been uncovered by people poking around in the backend of Instagram, where they can find clues and icons about what’s coming that have been buried deep.
#1 – Cinemagraph
We don’t have a demo of how this would work, just a screenshot that WABetaInfo spotted when digging around in the app, so we’re not entirely sure this will be a feature that will ever come to Instagram.
If it’s being tested to the point where the option is integrated in the interface, however, it’s a possibility.
This feature will most likely offer the option to create a classic cinemagraph, which is basically a still photo or image that has a small portion of the image in motion.
Here’s a few examples all compiled into one video to help you get the idea:
If this feature is released, this could take over boomerang as a newer more subtle approach to catch users eyes and draw them in quickly.
It would also be exceptionally visually interesting, which Instagram is all about. I can already picture the rain falling around the still couple dancing the rain as we speak, and I think the possibilities are endless.
#2 – Portrait Shutters for Stories
Month after month, we’ve consistently seen updates to the Stories feature almost every single time I write a post. TechCrunch may have found the next Stories shutter that could gain access to, which looks to be some sort of portrait mode.
It’s being tested under the name “Focus,” and may allow people to take or create stylized portraits in-app, blurring out the background and focusing in on your subject. Because it’s being tested, it’s a lot more likely we’ll be seeing this before the other two features on our “rumored” list.
Check out the example found “in the wild” here:
#3 – Voice and Video Calling
And for our last update this month, TechCrunch has also discovered that Instagram’s coding reveals that an unannounced, unreleased feature that will be big: voice and video messaging through the direct messages channel.
Right now, we only have icons of the video and voice call buttons that were uncovered by Ishan Agarwal.
The possible voice and video calling is one that surprised me, as the direct messages feature isn’t used nearly as frequently on Instagram as it is on other platforms, so maybe this is their way of taking a step to try to change that.
Either way, it will be interesting to see. It could provide an opportunity to provide more thorough and personal customer service to customers, but since this feature isn’t used often I’m Facebook, I’m not entirely sure how valuable it would be.
The biggest Instagram updates for this month are those that haven’t actually been confirmed, but which have strong evidence that they’re currently in development.
This is still significant, as it gives us a lot of insight into what directions Instagram is likely to be moving towards in the future.
More creative flexibility is always a plus, and shows that Instagram will continue to use new aesthetic and animation features to set itself apart from, competitors and keep itself as the premiere visual app.
And don’t worry– when there’s more information on any of these updates, you’ll be able to find them right here.
What do you think? Which of these updates (or potential updates) are you most excited about? Which will be the one you hope to get your hands on first, as a user and a marketer? Share your thoughts, knowledge, and experience in the comments below!
Top Instagram Updates – February 2018 Edition
This is a really, really big month for Instagram updates. The biggest month with some of the biggest updates we’ve had in ages.
We got the announcement of two really big new features, that are a huge deal for the platform: Instagram scheduling and carousel ads coming to Stories.
The scheduling, in particular, can actually change how social media marketers are interacting with the platform, and the carousel ads give Story ads access to one of the highest performing ad features Facebook and Instagram have ever had.
There’s a lot of great stuff this month, so let’s dive in, shall we?
Instagram Scheduling (Beta)
This is easily the biggest announcement we’ve had in a very, very long time on Instagram, and as someone who does a lot of Instagram marketing for a lot of clients, I was pretty much bouncing up and down in my chair when I read it.
Instagram has released a new API that allows for on-platform native scheduling. Business profiles will be able to schedule posts through the API, or–even better– third-party scheduling and social management software like Hootsuite.
Why is this such a big deal?
Previously, you could use social management software to create full, complete posts and place them on a calendar. These tools, however, could not post directly to Instagram the same way they could on Twitter or Facebook. Instead, the mobile app would ding you with a notification, and you’d enter into the app, transfer the post to Instagram manually, and then post it.
It saved a few steps, but it was still a pain.
Now, these third-party apps will be able to post directly to Instagram, making them even more valuable, and saving marketers a lot of time.
Carousel Ads Brought to Stories
Carousel ads are one of the highest engaging ad formats. They have significantly higher engagement rates, click-through rates, and conversion rates.
It’s why you see them so often in the Newsfeed; they’re downright effective. And now they’re available for Instagram Stories, too.
Now, Stories Ads can have up to three slides of different media, including images and videos.
It reminds me a great deal of the Canvas Ads, sliding horizontally instead of vertically. They are, of course, not quite as interaction-friendly as Canvas ads, but advertisers can still include interactive elements like the “Swipe up to see more.”
This feature has not been widely released yet, and is only accessible by select big-name brands like Coca-Cola, but it will probably be here before we know it.
Keep an eye out for these Stories Ads to start to get an idea about best practices and how you’ll use them for your campaigns when it rolls out to more advertisers.
Stories Alert Feature: Secretly Testing?
This will likely affect users more often than it will affect brands, but it’s still worth mentioning.
Instagram is supposedly currently testing an alert feature that will let users know if someone else has taken a screenshot of their Stories. Sorry, stalkers. Your day is over.
Instagram currently has declined to comment on this discovery when asked about it directly by Mashable, but this is just another Snapchat-lookalike feature that Instagram may be trying to replicate.
We’ll keep an eye on this one and let you know how it develops, because I know I’ve personally taken screenshots of content just for these blog posts and want to know if the brands can find out. (Though I guess as long as you aren’t taking snapshots of Stories of your ex or that college roommate you hated, you’re probably ok).
New Stories Creative Flexibility
Right now, you can only post images and videos to Stories if it fit the exact 16:9 dimensions (or full-screen view), no questions asked. Soon, that’s going to be changing.
Within the next few weeks, Instagram is going to be rolling out incredible new options for creative flexibility.
You’ll be able to post videos and images of all sizes to Instagram Stories, including landscape and square aspect content.
All you have to do is “pinch” the image when you upload it to your Story in order to get it to be displayed at its original aspect ratio.
It will be interesting to see how many brands use this feature, and whether partial-screen Stories get as much engagement as full-screen Stories.
I’ll be doing some A/B testing with this and will let you all know.
Type Mode Released for Stories
You know that relatively new type of Facebook post, where the post shows up like an image with a colorful background?
Personally, I wouldn’t rely on type mode alone; I’d use it in a series of Stories to make announcements, engage customers, and share information, but I’d definitely combine it with images and videos like those we’re accustomed to.
Stories and Instagram are both highly visual platforms, after all.
Instagram has done a lot to make the platform more friendly for marketers, but the ability to schedule posts– not just natively but with third-party tools- is going to make an enormous difference in ease of use by advertisers.
I’m not going to have to wake up at 8am on a Saturday to hit “publish” on a post for my client so it goes live at the optimum time in his time zone, for example, which is something I currently do.
The additional Stories updates are also all excellent for businesses, particularly the carousel ads. The more flexibility we have with it, the more we can benefit from it.
The new carousel ads are easily the biggest development we’ve had in this arena for a few months, but every single month in recent history has given us more Stories features, which is a good sign for what’s to come.
What do you think? How do you feel about these new updates? Are you as excited as I am about the new scheduling capabilities? Share your thoughts, knowledge, and questions in the comments below!
Top Instagram Updates – January 2018 Edition
There’s a lot of great stuff to dig into this month, so let’s get started, shall we?
First up, let’s take a closer look at why Instagram is about to grow even more in importance for social media marketers…
Facebook Pages Are Possibly About to Tank
I know what you’re thinking– this is the Instagram updates post, not the Facebook updates post, but bare with me here. I promise it’s relevant.
Some pretty big news has been breaking over the past week, and while we don’t know exactly what it means for sure, we know that it isn’t necessarily good for Pages. Facebook posted an announcement saying that they’re shifting the focus back to staying in touch with the people that you most want to hear from, which, simply put, is not Pages.
Basically, as Michael Stelzner says in the video below, this could potentially mean the “end of days” for Facebook Pages. Even if it doesn’t turn out to be quite that severe, it’s definitely going to be a massive and irreparable hit. Even Facebook acknowledges this.
So here’s why this is so important for Instagram: Facebook currently acts as what I call “the social media marketing hub” for most small businesses. It’s their primary source of interaction and news delivery with customers, and now, reach is going to be driven down further. As a result, other social media platforms gain even more importance.
And Instagram, with it’s high engagement and excellent reach, is primed to gain dominance as a primary social media marketing platform as a result. Get ahead of the curve and increase your Instagram marketing now if you haven’t already, focusing on growing followers and doing hashtag research. Users will see your content here more than on Facebook, so use that to your advantage.
Alright, so now that we have that covered, on to the traditional Instagram updates!
Ability to Follow Hashtags
At the end of last year (yes ok, it means a few days ago!) Instagram announced that users have the ability to follow hashtags on Instagram.
Now, users don’t have to search out hashtags regularly to find new content they’re interested in, they can just follow a hashtag to have the content regularly delivered to them, instead.
Just as there is a “people” feed, users can also create a “hashtags” feed where this content will appear.
This is a big advantage to brands for several reasons.
With great hashtag research, you can increase the likelihood that you’ll be showing up in more people’s feeds. And all the while, you’ll be providing content that they actually want to see.
You can also encourage users to follow your brand’s hashtag. This can make user-generated content (UGC) even more powerful.
Users will see the content about your brand created by other customers, and it will be endlessly more persuasive than if you were the one delivering it to their feed.
Brands, of course, can use this feature to monitor their own hashtag and easily review the best UGC, though they should be doing this already. They can also use the hashtag tracking feature to keep an eye on industry trends and your competition.
Rights Manager Enabled
Instagram seems to be rolling out a Rights Manager on the platform, which makes it easier for copyright owners to monitor and protect their content.
Facebook already has this feature, and it’s incredibly useful to help content owners see how their images and videos are being used and that their copyright isn’t being violated.
This feature hasn’t rolled out to everyone (or at least it doesn’t seem like it yet), but all you have to do is upload videos to the library, and Instagram will watch and alert you if it’s being used elsewhere on the platform.
We don’t have a lot of information on this one yet, but this is a cool update to check out once you have access to it.
Recommended Posts: In Testing
Right now, users only see posts in their feeds from other users they follow, and the sponsored content Instagram shows them.
This may change soon, with Instagram testing a “recommended posts” feature that’s not dissimilar from Facebook’s. Now, you may see content that Instagram believes that you’ll like.
This means that Instagram’s algorithms will be showing users either content that their friends’ have liked, or content they think you’ll be interested in. If you follow a lot of fitness bloggers, for example, they’ll show you more content along those lines.
This could be a big deal for businesses, and could make on-platform engagement even more important.
If one user liking or commenting on your Page means that even just ten of their friends see it, that’s a huge development that we shouldn’t ignore. There’s already plenty of incentives to get a lot of engagement on Instagram, but this gives us just one more.
Instagram has had their Alpha testing program available for Android users for awhile now, allowing users who have signed up and been approved to gain the earliest access to new features in order to test them.
Now, iOS users can sign up to be in this program, too.
For marketers who want to stay on the cutting-edge side of Instagram, this isn’t a bad program to look into.
Some of the features may be a little glitchy, but imagine being able to create in-Story links before anyone else, or the new multiple-image posts first. It could help you stay ahead of the competition, which is never a bad thing.
iOS isn’t currently taking any new testers at this point, but that could change at any time. You can sign up to be an Android tester here.
Instagram is already one of the key players in social media marketing platforms, and we’re about to see that become more true than ever with Facebook Pages tanking.
While I’m glad the ad systems are joined (giving Instagram Ads so much more power), I’m so glad their algorithms are not identical. And now, with new features rolling out, it’s clear that Instagram is marketer- and business-friendly, making it even more valuable.
What do you think? Is Instagram marketing a staple part of your social media marketing? Which Instagram updates are you most excited about this month? What new features would you most like to see? Let us know in the comments below!
Top Instagram Updates – December 2017
At this point, I think it’s safe to say that 2017 was the year of Instagram Stories.
It is, at least, if you’re looking back at the year in review from the standpoint of examining new features. While we have seen other great features come out this year—including new creative tools, enhanced ad capabilities, and some developments in the influencer marketing area—, Instagram Stories were the biggest focus for most of the new updates and developments.We’ve been given Story Ads, new capabilities to enhance stories effectiveness, and creative features like hashtag stickers and location stickers.
It’s no surprise, therefore, that most of December’s recently released features are all about the Stories. We’re going to go over these in great detail, as well as taking a look at some exciting features that are currently in testing.
Easily one of the biggest downsides to Instagram stories is that they disappear within 24 hours, taking all the hard work and creativity you put into them with you. Now, that’s no longer necessarily the case.
Now, there’s a Stories Highlights section where you can create highlights out of groups of stories you’ve shared.
This section will be found on your profile underneath your bio, where you can feature Stories images or videos that you’ve previously posted.
All you need to do is choose a cover image (which is particularly important if you have a series of images or videos in a single Story group) and name it accordingly.
Here’s the best part: highlights will stay on your profile for as long as you’d like; you have to delete them for them to disappear. You can have as many highlights as you’d like, and you can edit them at any time.
This gives Stories the kind of permanence I’ve always wished they had, allowing brands to capitalize on great content long after those first 24 hours.
Did you forget to add a story to your highlight within the 24 hours after it’s publishing? No worries.
Now, in addition to being able to create permanent highlights, all of your stories will automatically be archived after those 24 hours. This means that you can create highlights at any moment, and you’ll be able to watch your archived stories at any point to review them.
Your archived Stories will be private, so only you can see them. They’ll remain private, though you can use the stories within them to later create public highlights.
Your Stories archive will be found immediately next to the archive of your regular posts, so they’ll be easy to find when viewing your own profile.
Join Live Requests
Instagram Live Stories was one of the biggest developments we saw on the platform this year, and it wasn’t long after we got it that we also got the ability to add a second person to our broadcasts. Previously, we could only invite people to join us, and we could only invite those who were actively watching.
Now, people can actually request to join your live video. This feature can be extremely valuable depending on how you use it.
If you’re hosting a Q&A for example, you can encourage interested viewers to request to join to come on and ask their question live. In some cases, an influencer may also want to come weigh in, and this gives them the chance to let you know they’re up for it even if it wasn’t planned.
It goes without saying that there is some risk to this.
If someone is requesting to join, you may not be overly familiar with them, and there’s always a small chance someone will say or do something inappropriate. This is exceptionally uncommon, but it’s something to keep in mind.
New Direct Features
Direct messaging is a feature that Instagram has been trying to expand and draw attention to more over the past year. Instagram has taken a note out of Snapchat’s books for a lot of Direct’s styling, focusing on the fun and quirky side of the platform.
This month, they gave us new functionality updates to Direct messaging to make it even more entertaining for users.
The first of these new updates is the ability to “remix” photos.
You can quite literally reply to your friends’ image, add it as a sticker to your own picture and resize it, draw on it, and more. You can add stickers, text, and drawings to the updated image, and multiple people can weigh in, as pictured below.
You can also control replay options for your messages.
You can choose to only allow chat participants to view it once, or to “allow replays” for endless viewing. Images and videos sent with the “allow replays” option will loop automatically, though your friends can tap them and pause them to remix them at any point.
Stand-Alone App for Direct (testing)
So now we’re onto the in-testing part of this Instagram Updates post, starting with the stand-alone app for Direct messaging.
This definitely explains the big boost in features and the recent focus on the messaging tool within the app, and I’m sure the idea is to have Instagram’s version of Facebook Messenger.
Long-term, they may try to monetize this with message ad campaigns like Facebook, though I don’t think chatbots would be functional given the API restrictions.
Right now, only a select portion of individuals have access to this app. I struggle to think that a large number of people would actually use a standalone app for direct messaging just because we have so many similar options already, but I also thought this about Facebook messenger and Instagram stories and was dead wrong.
When it comes to features I’m not personally too excited about, I can be a little biased, so I’m curious to see how this develops (and inevitably proves me wrong).
Regram Button: (testing)
Not only is this one “last but definitely not least,” I actually saved this update for last because it’s the one I want to end the year on- even if it isn’t officially here yet.
User-generated content is an essential part of online and social media marketing, and sharing UGC is a central part of that. This is easy on other platforms like Facebook and Twitter, which have share and retweet buttons, respectively. On Instagram, however, this has been a nightmare- we either have to use third-party software or save the image and then repost it and tag the right people.
Instagram is finally testing a feature I’ve been waiting on for several years (not an exaggeration): the regram button.
This button will let you share content from other users, much like a retweet or share, making it easier to share UGC and other great content while still benefiting the original poster. This is going to make social media managers’ lives and businesses’ lives much easier.
They also have another enormous, massive benefit that even surpasses the UGC functionality: now users will be able to share your content, too.
This will significantly expand your reach as followers are sharing your content and introducing it to their own content. With Facebook’s recent plunge in organic reach, this is the good news all marketers and businesses can hold on to.
This year, we’ve seen Instagram become a more dynamic and engaging platform, with more creative tools and marketing tools that benefited both marketers and users alike.
December finished out strong with plenty of great new updates being released, and some really exciting features currently in testing (I know I’m definitely not the only one who has been anxiously anticipating a regram button for over a year).
So there you have it, everyone. A year’s worth of Instagram updates.
We’ll see you in 2018, where Instagram will inevitably have more great features to ring in the new year!
Top Instagram Updates – November 2017
Most of what we’ve gotten for November, are the expansion of current features or features that we’ve seen on other platforms like Facebook. Still, they’re all going to benefit marketers, businesses, and influencers when it comes to better connect with the audience they most want to reach.
Specifically, we’ve got new features for Instagram Stories, the new sponsored post format is rolling out to more influencers, and we can now host split-screen videos on Instagram Live.
Let’s take a look at the new features and how to use them!
Stories Have New & Expanded Features
This month, it was announced that Instagram Stories has officially reached more than 500 million daily active users.
Stories is a huge part of Instagram usage, and it’s definitely not going anywhere. Instagram is well aware of this, and they’ve recently added or are testing a whole slew of new Stories features. These new features include:
- Ability to add older content to Stories, instead of just the videos or images from the past 24 hours. This is a huge advantage; I’d be lying if I said the 24 hour requirement wasn’t a thorn in my side. This makes it easier to plan and prepare images and videos much further in advance for quick and easy posting later on. Instagram, on behalf of me and my fellow social media managers, thank you.
- The Superzoom tool, which is a Boomerang-esque new feature that lets users automatically zoom in dramatically on a set image. Think a Dramatic Chipmunk style video. This feature can be used on Instagram Stories.
- Stories are now available on the desktop version of Instagram. This one was released a bit ago, so you may have had it before now, but many haven’t. You can now view stories on the desktop version of Instagram, instead of it being a mobile-only feature.
- The stop-motion camera feature, which is currently in testing. This feature will allow you to take a series of photos (but not edit them), and then assemble them into a video. You can see an example of what this will look like here.
More Influencers Are Getting the New Sponsored Post Format
In a past update, we mentioned that Instagram was rolling out a new sponsored post format for influencers. As a quick recap, this post format is essentially a branded content tool that allows (and encourages) influencers to identify posts that are paid for by advertisers. Before, it was easy for them to burry the required disclosure in a #sponsored that was stuck between twenty-two other hashtags. This makes it easier for users to identify sponsored posts, keeping the transparency of the site in place, while encouraging influencers to disclose them properly.
Now, these sponsored posts will be identified with a “Paid partnership with (brand name here)” tag located above the picture and under the username. Instagram is rolling out this feature to accounts that have access to Insights, and is determined that it’s used properly. According to Instagram, they’ll even start notifying influencers to use the format if they detect that it may be a sponsored post. After all the political insanity that’s happened this year with Facebook, Instagram wants to keep (or put) its reputation of transparency and authenticity in place.
Split-Screen on Instagram Live
Yup, we announced that this feature was coming out last month, and now increasing numbers of users have access to it.
You can now invite viewers to be part of your video by clicking on the overlapping smiley faces in the bottom right corner of your live interface after you’ve started your broadcast. When you click this option, it will pull up a list of viewers currently watching and you can invite any of them to join you. When you do, you’ll have a split-screen broadcast so they can appear, too.
You can also see if anyone has requested to be in your live video. Of course, it’s always a good idea to only allow people to go live that you’re familiar with and trust, since letting people come onto a broadcast in real-time without any hope of editing it could be disastrous. If you’re planning on having a guest come on, make sure you time it ahead of time so they’re ready when you go live and everyone is prepared.
View Bookmarked Posts on Desktop
This feature- which is currently in testing- allows users who have access to it to view their bookmarked posts on the desktop version of the site. Currently, desktop users can view their feeds, other users profiles, and the images on those profiles. Many features of the platform (including Instagram Ads) are exclusive only to the mobile app, so the ability to view bookmarked posts on the desktop could signal that Instagram is making an effort to becoming more desktop-friendly.
Will users flock to a desktop site over mobile? My guess would be no, especially since we’re all moving increasingly towards mobile to begin with, but it’s nice to have the option to access Instagram (and more of its features) on desktop if we’d like to.
We’re eleven months in, and there’s no denying that Instagram has given us some incredible features. This month expands the capabilities from features we already had, making them even more powerful and giving us more creative abilities. This is only ever good news for our marketing efforts on a platform that prioritizes artistic creativity as much as Instagram.
As a reminder, not everyone will get all of these features immediately. Instagram rolls out features slowly and over a period of weeks or even months. If you don’t have them yet, make sure your app is updated and hang in there- you’ll likely get them soon!
I don’t know about you, but I can’t wait to see what they release in December.
What do you think? Which update are you most excited about? What are you hoping to see in the last month of this year? Share your thoughts in the comments below!
Top Instagram Updates – October 2017 Edition
It’s official. It’s a big month for updates, and Instagram did not disappoint. We’ve got new creative tools and a new way to engage viewers with polling stickers.
Instagram has also expanded some of the features that we’ve already seen, including the Shopify integration and comment controls.
In this post, we’re going to take a closer look at all these new updates and what they mean for your business.
Shopify Expands Instagram Integration
Right in time for the holiday season, Shopify has opened up its Instagram shopping features to thousands of merchants. If this continues to go well, they’ll likely continue to do so. This feature allows Shopify businesses to use Instagram as an additional channel, and it’s a lot more streamlined than other third party shopping apps like Have2Have.IT.
This feature currently uses Facebook’s product catalogue to make it easy to tag products in images. Once you’ve been granted access and have your product catalog set up on Facebook, this product can easily be integrated with Instagram in just a few clicks. After you do this, you can tag any new picture with products contained in the catalog.
All shoppable posts will be identified with a small white shopping bag icon in the top right hand corner of posts.
When a user clicks on an individual post, they’ll see a prompt to “tap to view products.”
When they click on the product, they’ll be shown the product’s details.
If they click again, they’ll have the option to purchase the product directly in-app without ever having to leave Instagram, making for a more seamless experience.
While mobile engagement and usage is at an all-time high, desktop still reigns supreme for e-commerce sales. Instagram features like this could help change that, making it exceptionally easy for users to convert on mobile and giving them an incentive to do so. This is a big deal, seeing how this feature will impact small businesses once it rolls out further is exciting.
Instagram Polling Stickers
With the constant updates to Instagram’s story feature, it’s not surprising that so many Snapchat users are leaving the platform to come to Instagram instead. We’ve got ads, location stickers, and now new polling stickers.
Polling stickers allow you to ask a question, and provide two answers that users can choose from. The defaults are “yes” and “no,” but you can also ask users to choose between two different options. You could ask them to pick between two products, or share whether they thought their shoes worked better for night or day.
Users will just tap on the answer of their choice, and you’ll be able to see their answers in real time. You’ll be able to see who voted and what they voted for, and viewers will be able to see which option is currently in the lead when they watch your story. This is a great new way to drive engagement through Stories. You could easily make it part of a contest, or to identify leads to reach out to.
When you go to add stickers to your Story, you’ll see the “Poll” option towards the top.
You’ll be able to customize each field of text completely, but remember that right now, you only have the capability to give users two options to choose from. To edit the text, just click on it- you can rewrite the default “yes” and “no” to something else. Eventually we may see that change, but even with that restriction, there’s a lot we can do with it.
This gives you a much more concrete and definitive way to immediately engage your audience and evaluate their responsiveness on your stories. While we have the ability to view story view rates, using interactive polls will give us the opportunity to get much more tangible results and build up social proof through the feature, even if it’s fleeting. All of this is good news.
Updated Creative Tools for Stories
Want a little bit of help making your story look perfect? Instant has released a few new creative tools to help you do just that.
The first of these tools is their new alignment tool. When you’re adding text, stickers, or other design elements to your story, you’ll notice blue lines that appear as you’re moving them around on-screen. These are alignment bars, and they exist for two reasons:
- They’ll help you center your design elements
- They’ll indicate if any of your design elements might be covered up when someone’s watching your story
There will also be “color pickers” for text and brushes. This tool automatically detects colors that will work well with the color scheme of your story and offers color recommendations for text and drawing. If you’re like me and struggle with the design aspects but need to turn around mass amount of quality, this can be a pretty big help to guaranteeing your stories look good (or at least a little better).
Improved Comment Controls
A few months back, Instagram created new comment moderation features, like the ability to block comments containing offensive language. They’ve improved these features this month.
Now, public profiles can:
- Choose who can comment on your post. This can include everyone, but you can also limit commenting privileges to certain groups of people. Limited options include those who follow you, people you follow, and these two groups combined.
- Block certain individuals from commenting on your posts.
- Use the offensive-language blocking filter in Arabic, German, French, and Portuguese in addition to English.
If you haven’t set up comment moderation filters yet, check them out. It never hurts to have them just in case you need them.
The expanded Shopify integration is huge news and something that all businesses with Shopify stores should monitor closely.
As soon as you get access to it, start testing it out immediately.
Even if you don’t have Shopify or access to the new integration, however, this month still has some new great features that can benefit all businesses.
Test out of the new creative tools, and start using polls on your stories to boost engagement and get tangible social proof from your stories (even if it’s fleeting).
What do you think? Which updates are you excited for? Do you use any of Instagram’s new story stickers? Do you have access to the new Shopify integration yet? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments below!
Top Instagram Updates – September 2017 Edition
In this update, we’re going to take a look at the new stories for desktop, Instagram galleries updates, the new threaded comments, and the ability to access engagement through Facebook.
Let’s dive in these updates, head first!
Instagram Stories for Desktop
Until now, Instagram Stories has strictly been a mobile-only feature. I had a feeling that wouldn’t last too long when Facebook launched mobile-only Stories, and then proceeded to make them available for desktop users within several months.
But now Instagram is following suit– Stories will soon be available for the desktop and web versions of the photo-sharing platform we all know and love.
I currently don’t have this update yet, but some people might! It should be rolling out to everyone within the next few weeks.
This is a great opportunity for businesses, expanding the potential reach of their stories even further.
While almost all Instagram usage stays on the app, it’s possible that by expanding the desktop version of the site, more users may access the site online. Even if they don’t, ensuring that your stories show up for our followers to view every time they visit the site will only help you.
In addition to being able to view Stories on desktop and the mobile site, you’ll also be able to upload Stories directly from mobile web versions of the site (but not desktop yet).
For those who are unable to keep the Instagram app on their phone or download it outright, this is a great opportunity. When it comes to almost everyone else, it will probably make more sense- at least for the time being- to keep uploading them through the app.
Instagram Galleries Updates
Several months ago, Instagram gave us the ability to share multiple images or videos in a single post. Previously, those images had to all be in a square format. The new update to this feature, however, allows us to now include multiple image formats in a single post– including landscape and portrait formats of both pictures and videos.
This isn’t a massive update, but it does give us more flexibility in terms of content we want to share and creative ability.
I’ve had multiple instances (including once earlier this week) where I wanted to post multiple images that were all only suited for a landscape view. As a result, I ended up having to post them separately; this new update would have prevented that.
Status update for this one: I don’t have it yet, but I’ve seen one influencer who does. It will be rolling out within the next month to all users.
Monitor Instagram Engagement From Facebook
Even though I use social media management software for my clients to streamline my marketing work, there are still times where it feels almost easier to just go in through Facebook (or any other native platform) to get a full look at what’s going on and address individual instances.
And thanks to a recent update, we can now monitor and respond to Instagram engagement through our correlating Facebook profiles and Pages.
This is actually really, really cool.
A large number of my B2C social media clients prioritize Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest, with Facebook and Instagram being the two heavy hitters. Now, I can actually get notifications when one of my Instagram posts was commented on– and I’ll get it through Facebook, which I’m on more often for work.
It’s possible to review and engage the comments all through the Facebook desktop site, which is a huge advantage.
I’ve had this ability for the past week or so, including on some smaller and newer Pages. Most businesses and many personal profiles will probably have this ability within the next few weeks.
This seems like a minor update, but it’s actually capable of having a pretty significant impact on engagement on the site. Now, Instagram is slowly rolling out threaded comments on the mobile app.
What does this mean? Previously, all comments were posted in order, straight down in one line. If you replied to someone but others commented after they did, your conversation will be broken and disjointed.
With threaded comments, we’ll be able to use the same organized system Facebook currently utilizes.
As a result, this will make it exponentially easier to actually communicate with our followers; it will allow for us to have legitimate organized, cohesive conversations.
While this seems small, this is actually a pretty big deal; any time it’s easier and more pleasant for your followers to talk directly to you, the better. You can answer their questions quickly, have more significant bonding, and create stronger customer loyalty.
I currently have access to the new threaded comments; if you don’t have it yet, you will very soon.
Apparently, September’s updates didn’t bring any astounding new features, but all of these “small” upgrades are appreciated.
Threaded comments will make it easier to facilitate actual conversation on the platform, the Instagram galleries update gives us more creative wiggle room, and the ability to do more through the desktop (and Facebook!) increases the ease of use for many marketers who are feeling overwhelmed.
These are all excellent opportunities to communicate more completely and more effortlessly with our followers and customers.
What do you think? How do you feel about this month’s Instagram updates? Which ones are you most excited about? Share your thoughts and knowledge in the comments below!
Top Instagram Updates – August 2017 Edition
Regardless of whether they’re just announced or have already been released, we’re going to take a look at the new Instagram features we’ve got the new scoop on this month. You may have noticed some of these features popping up already, like the ability to target users for ads based on their activity on your Instagram profile. Others, like the broadcasting feature, are still in testing and may not be released to all profiles for some time yet.
To keep you up to speed, we’re also going to go over some of the banned hashtags you want to avoid (and why it’s a necessity).
In the Create-An-Ad system, we now have new targeting options. Specifically, we can now target users based on their activity on our Instagram profile, including video views. This feature is only available for business profiles on Instagram (not just public ones).
Targeting Based on Instagram Profile Activity
To access this new feature, you’ll need to choose to create a custom audience. From there, choose “Engagement.”
On the next screen, you’ll see the two new options related to Instagram (and a few new ones for Facebook). The first is to create a custom audience of people who have watched an Instagram video (previously, this was only an option for Facebook videos).
You can even get specific, choosing audiences who have only watched 75% of your video, for example.
The other is to target users based on their activity on your Instagram business profile. This new feature can be incredibly powerful when used correctly.
You have the option to create custom audiences on:
- Anyone who engaged with your business profile at all
- Users who visited the profile
- People who engaged with a post or ad
- Anyone who sent your business profile a message
- People who saved a post or ad
When creating this custom audience, you can also select the time frame for the activity in question. If you only want to target users who have seen you in the past week, great. If you want to target users who interacted with your profile six months ago, you can do that, too.
You also have the option to include and exclude different activity criteria. You can, for example, create a custom audience of users who engaged with a post or ad, but exclude those who messaged your business since this may indicate some interest.
To include or exclude different criteria, click on the “Include More” or “Exclude More” CTAs.
There are some great use cases for this feature. You can now hit interested-but-timid users with a follow-up ad campaign that contains a generous offer focused on conversions, for example.
Broadcasting with Friends
Instagram Live Stories have really taken off (you can read more about them in our past updates further down in this post!), and now Instagram is looking at new ways to expand the feature.
Starting at the beginning of the month, Instagram began testing the ability to invite Live viewers to become a “guest,” or to broadcast live in real time with you. For anyone who remembers Blab, this is basically Instagram’s version of that.
You can remove and add new guests to your broadcast at any time. In order to invite them, they must be viewing the live video during the broadcast.
This has fantastic opportunities to expand the functionality of Instagram live.
Once we get the feature, we’ll be able to interview guests from all over the world in real time, all in an Instagram Live video. Since live videos can be saved to the camera roll now and be shared as regular Stories once the broadcast is over, this is a big deal and I’m excited for brands to be able to get ahold of it.
This feature is still in testing, so there’s no saying when we’ll get it. We’ll probably see a slow roll out, just like all other features. We’ll let you know when we know more.
Enhanced Features for the API
Previously, Instagram analytics were kept to the native insights that could be accessed only from the actual mobile app. Now, business profiles will be able to access their analytics and reports directly from the API.
This is a big deal for two reasons, aside from the obvious one of convenience.
The first is that you won’t need to give someone access to your Instagram for them to see the detailed analytics.
The second is that third party companies have this ability, too, meaning they’ll be able to help you with your analytics in ways they couldn’t before.
The comment moderation features that we discussed in last month’s updates will also be accessible through the API.
To use these tools, business profiles will be required to login with Facebook when giving third party tools access to their account. All Facebook and Instagram partners (including AdEspresso!) have gotten these new, enhanced features.
Did you know that there’s such a thing as banned hashtags on Instagram? If you didn’t, you’re not alone. And, shockingly, banned hashtags aren’t what you might think.
When I first heard the term, I assumed it meant that if someone typed a banned hashtag, it wouldn’t be clickable or that Instagram would somehow alert you that you shouldn’t use it. That’s not what happens at all. You get no notification. You do, however, have a punishment in the form of severely limited reach for that particular post. Not only will it not show up in the banned hashtag search, it won’t show up publicly in the discover area for any of the other hashtags on your post, either.
Some banned hashtags make a lot of sense, like #bootybounce, and they’re exactly what you’d expect to see banned for potentially violating the site’s policies. Others, however, might surprise you; #dogsofinstagram, #easter, #skype, and #tgif are all banned, too. You can check out the highlights of banned hashtags you’re most likely to be using here.
If you want to check a hashtag to see if it’s restricted or been banned, before using it, just do a simple search. If it’s a banned hashtag, you won’t see any recent posts; you’ll only see top posts. In addition, at the bottom of the
In addition, at the bottom of the screen, Instagram will explain that recent posts containing the hashtag aren’t shown because the hashtag has been associated with content violating community guidelines. That spells it out pretty clearly.
This month didn’t give us any sparkly, shiny, revolutionary new features for the platform, but that doesn’t mean this month’s Instagram updates isn’t worth noting carefully. In many cases, these smaller, quieter updates can go a long way in fully fleshing out and developing the platform into something with incredible options and outstanding marketing power. This, after all, is what happened with Facebook; Instagram is following suit.
Test out the new features, take a look at the new and improved metrics, and definitely watch out for those banned hashtags. While we don’t have the broadcasting feature yet, we’ll let you know as soon as it’s here!
What do you think of the new Instagram Updates? Have you seen any of these new features on your accounts? Which are you most excited about? Leave us a comment and let us know what you think!
Top Instagram Updates – July 2017
The focus of this month’s new updates are the Live Stories feature, which has gotten some great add-ons to make it more dynamic, and brand new comment moderation tools. Both of these will help you and your audience interact in new exciting and effective ways.
Keep reading to stay up to date on the latest Instagram updates!
Live Video Replay
A few updates ago we got the ability to add live stories to our camera roll and then share them as regular Instagram videos (or Facebook videos), but to be honest, this update might be even better.
In this update, you can now instantly share your live video directly to your Stories with one simple touch; all you have to do is click “Share” once the broadcast has ended. Your live video will be played back in its entirety on the Stories feature, all the way down to the incredible engagement you got as it was filmed.
Users will also be able to rewind several seconds to catch anything they may have missed, which is a huge advantage that we haven’t seen on Stories or live video yet.
Instagram is rapidly expanding the Stories feature (including with their new objectives for Story Ads- click here for last month’s update if you missed them!), and this is great to see. Its full-screen view demands a user’s entire attention, even if they just happened upon the Story because it was next in the stream of videos and images that were already playing.
Replies for Live Video
This is more of a feature for users, but it affects businesses using the platform, too. Users viewing your Stories now have a ton of new ways to interact with it—this is fantastic news for you, as it means the amount of engagement and its level of creativity will increase.
With the new update, users can respond to your stories with their own pictures, videos, and boomerangs all their own in live time. This has incredible potential: users could respond to your call for UGC immediately, responding to your Story with a picture of the content requested, especially if you’re offering a discount or other incentive in exchange. You could host an entire contest right from your Stories in a way that wasn’t as possible or seamless before.
Comment Block Filters
You know how YouTube and Facebook both have filters you can set up to block offensive or abusive language in the comments on your posts? Instagram just developed their own version.
Business profiles that have this feature can access this feature from their Settings Menu, and by scrolling down to “Comments.” Once there, they’ll see the following:
You have the option to use an automatic filter, which pretty much uses common sense to block out anything that would likely be offensive (think of lots of curse words and the type of language internet trolls use).
If you want to be really specific about the type of language you want to block, you can set up a manual filter, where you enter in the exact words or phrases you want to block from popping up. Both are extremely straightforward and simple to use.
This filter works on both Instagram posts and in live video interactions, the latter of which really impresses me. You can turn both filters off at any time.
Right now, the filter is only going to be released for business profiles and in English. Eventually, they have said they will offer it to more languages over time.
Spam Reduction Filter
Spam comments are perhaps an even bigger problem than the offensive ones, because they can make your profile look significantly less credible (even more so than an angry customer, the latter of which is exceptionally easy to block). So, alongside the offensive comments filter, Instagram has also released a spam filter that automatically works in the background of business profiles.
What’s truly incredible is that while the previous new feature is only currently available for English devices, the spam filter will work to block spam comments in English, Japanese, Chinese, French, Arabic, German, Russian, Spanish, and Portuguese. Instagram will also be expanding the languages here in the future, too.
This isn’t a filter that you need to turn on; Instagram runs it automatically.
So there you have it—the July Instagram updates (at least the ones we have thus far) give us add-ons to one great feature and give us another brand new one. The Story updates will make it easier to increase engagement during live updates, and to benefit from them even further by giving you the option to share them right to your Story. The comment moderation tools will help you ensure that the interactions you’re getting on your posts uphold your standards, preventing everything from expletives (if you so choose) to spam.
Let us know what you think of the new updates, and as always, subscribe to our blog so you’ll be the first to know when our next update to this post rolls around.
Missed any past Instagram updates? Keep reading to catch up!
Top Instagram Updates – June 2017 Edition
Instagram Stories is one of the biggest updates Instagram made to the app last year. Stories are the Snapchat-like videos and images that appear at the top of the feed for 24 hours before they disappear forever. While stories have been around for awhile, now we got a ton of new features that make them even more useful as marketing tools.
This month has been an incredible rush of new Instagram Story features, including new objectives in Story Ads, Story location stickers, and Story Links, all of which take Stories from being only good for reach to actually being able to drive real results– including site traffic.
We’ve also got a sneak peek at a new feature Instagram is currently testing that will make it easier for influencers to mark sponsored posts, increasing transparency on the site.
Ready? Let’s go.
Instagram Story Ads rolled out with just one objective: reach. In these ads, brands could use stories to build brand awareness. These ads were limited, though, to the point where their usefulness was a little inhibited because users couldn’t click on them. Now, Instagram has changed that with a host of new, fantastic objectives.
Now, Instagram has changed that with a host of new, fantastic objectives.
- Video views
- Traffic (which used to be called website clicks)
- Mobile app installs
This is a significant, incredible update. Previously, brands had to hope that users were interested enough in their content to find their profile or find the site on their own. Now, these ads can drive actual conversions and actions instead of just views, making them more lucrative and customizable for each business’s needs. While brand awareness is essential, these new ad objectives will benefit even awareness more, since users can actually click to your site to learn more about who you are and what you do.
To create Story Ads, choose any of the above objectives (or reach). When you choose placements, click Edit Placements. Click to look at all of Instagram’s options, and choose Stories. This will only run as a story ad, and in no other format.
This is a good thing, though, since the actual size of the stories will take up the full screen (like regular stories), and functions a little differently.
In the past few weeks, Instagram has released a fantastic feature where users can add location stickers to their stories. Why does this matter? Because they can now tag your business in the stories they’re sharing with their friends. This can help build brand awareness and recognition, and it’s a powerful form of UGC.
Even more importantly, when users tap on the location sticker, they’ll see the option to “see location.”
When they click, they’ll be taken to the page of the tagged location, where they’ll see the business name, a pinpoint on a map, and all the top posts about that location.
To add location stickers to your story, first, create the story. It must be separate from a regular Instagram post.
Once you’ve taken the picture or video you want to use for your story, you’ll see options to edit the image in the top right-hand corner. Click on the peeling smile face, or the stickers icon. The first sticker you’ll likely see is the location tag. Click on it.
Then enter in the name of the business or location where you’re at. Review and publish.
Instagram Story Links
So thanks to Story Ads’ new objectives, we had a way to get some links into our stories and make them more lucrative. Not long after the new ad objectives were released, more businesses were given the ability to add links to their non-ad Stories, too.
If you’ve been watching Stories closely, you’ve likely seen other brands doing this in the past. You’ll see a CTA to “Swipe Up!” to “learn more” or “shop now.” It looks like this:
Previously, this was a feature being tested only by a select number of larger brands.
Now, business profiles (and only business profiles) with more than 10,000 followers have the ability to add links to Stories, sending traffic to their sites. Hopefully soon this will be available to all business profiles. You know we’ll let you know when it is!
Pro tip: Even if you run Story Ads, I recommend running a regular Story with the same information.
While it will only last for 24 hours and only your followers will see it, users can also click backward and watch it again. Story Ads have the unfortunate characteristic that once a user clicks away, they can’t click back– even if they want to. I–as a hasty clicker– actually scrolled through what looked like a really interesting ad on accident just yesterday, and when I tried to go back, poof! Too late.
When you have the ability to add links to your Stories, you’ll know because you’ll see the hyperlink sign in the top corner of the Story before you post it.
Once you click the link, add in the URL of the specific page you want to send users to.
In many cases, it would be best if this was a designated landing page. Because Stories are only a mobile feature, this landing page must be mobile friendly.
Make sure you enter in a great CTA; instead of just saying “Swipe Up,” add context with on-image text in the Story like “Swipe Up to Win!” or “Swipe Up to Learn More!”
New Influencer Marketing Feature: In Testing
This one is brand new and was just announced last week. Instagram is currently testing features that would make it possible for influencers to identify their sponsored posts.
Here’s why this matters: there’s recently been a huge ordeal with influencers being paid to create sponsored posts, but not disclosing them as much. The Federal Trade Commission requires that sponsored posts be disclosed as such, and right now, that’s just not happening. The FTC actually recently sent out letters to more than 90 influencers telling them that they need to label their sponsored posts.
Right now, some influencers aren’t tagging their posts as sponsored at all, so users have no way to know that they are. Even in the cases of the ones who do, they’ll mention it under the “See More” expandable option knowing many users won’t see it, or they’ll buy it in between nine other hashtags on each side. The term “sponsored post” is supposed to be visible immediately, and clearly—no using #sp to do the trick, like the example below.
In the new feature, influencers will be able to tag the sponsoring brand with a label that says “paid partnership with (brand name). It’s unobtrusive and doesn’t take away from the focal point of the post, but it still clearly labels posts as sponsored. This helps with transparency, which in the long run, is good for influencers, marketers, and users.
This tool is still really early in testing, with only select brands like Buzzfeed having access, but you know we’ll let you know as soon as it rolls out to everyone.
I’ve always really liked the idea of using Instagram Stories for marketing because users are super into the feature, and they have incredible view rates. The inability to add captions or even put links in Story Ads, however, always stumped me, a bit.
These new additions are extremely welcome and will benefit all marketers. They allow us to drive real, actionable results– both on the platform and off of it– instead of just increasing views.
Even if you don’t have the ability to add links to your regular Stories (yet), the Story Ad objectives and new clickable-stickers are incredible features you should start using immediately.
Don’t forget to check back every month to see what new Instagram updates we’ve got for you! I’m going to keep a close eye on the Story links, and watch the sponsored post feature currently in testing. Is it just me, or do you think that these sponsored posts might become shoppable in the future? Let us know in the comments!
Now you’re all caught up for this month, but have you missed any of our past updated? Keep reading then, the last 12 months (and more) are covered here!
Top Instagram Updates – May 2017 Edition
For our May Instagram Update, Instagram just announced a number of smaller features last week, and we have some new incredible data that shows the importance of Instagram as an advertising platform.
We’re going to go over all this and more (including the new web app!) so let’s get started.
This is my favorite new feature that we got this month. You can actually add “hashtag stickers” to your Instagram stories.
While you could add a hashtag before manually with text, this new feature works a little differently; now, when customers watch your story, they can click on the “See Hashtag” prompt.
When you use this strategically with your branded hashtag or when promoting a hashtag campaign, you can build incredible brand awareness and get interested users to your content to engage with it.
Because the quirky nature of the Stories feature is perfect for the hashtag sticker, it’s a great opportunity to promote a campaign or inspire user generated content (or both).
We’ve got yet another Snapchat-inspired feature! If you miss those flower crowns from Snapchat, you can now get them on your Instagram Story images.
They’ve just announced a total of eight filters, which include glasses, animal features, and several types of crowns. These filters even work with Boomerang content, images, and videos. You can use both your front or back camera.
If you love Boomerang, you might like Instagram’s new Rewind format.
This feature lets users take a video with the app’s native camera, and then play it only in “rewind mode.” You can watch a baseball that you threw come zooming into your hands, for example. This feature can be used to create eye-catching illusions that will capture users’ interest immediately.
This, right now, is purely a feature that users can take advantage of; the collections feature lets users compile saved posts into different, you guessed it, collections. These are groups of posts that users can organize their saved content in, so it’s easier to find and revisit at any time. I can already tell you what mine are made up of: a ton of different collections of marketing examples.
These collections, like a users’ saves, are entirely private. That being said, businesses can use this feature to their advantage. They can create collections of:
- User generated content about their brand, which they can use at a later time
- Groups of their own posts (since you can save your own posts) to monitor closely, or that belonged to a certain hashtag campaign
- Examples of great content from other brands that you love and find inspiring
(Almost) Fully Functional Web App
Instagram has been growing quickly (we’ll look at just how quickly in the next section), and they’ve got their eye on continuing that trend. One strategy they’re using to implement that growth in their user base is to offer an Instagram experience without users needing to download the app.
While downloading the app is a breeze for people in locations like the US, where WiFi and 4G LTE data is everywhere, this isn’t a reality for other places in the world.
Users who have more limited data will now be able to access Instagram without needing to actual download or utilize the actual app; there is a web-based version available for Android mobile phones to use, and users can (or will be able to) even upload pictures and posts from within the web-based app.
There’s also a “light-weight” version of the Explore section in the new web app, as Tech Crunch called it, expanding the app’s features even further.
Instagram’s Expanding User Base & Advertising Prominence
And now for our final May Instagram update, we’re going to go over Instagram usage information. This isn’t a feature update, but it gives us valuable insight into why we need to be channeling so much effort into the platform.
Instagram now has more than 700 million users. This is a substantial number, and may even rank them above Twitter; they’re definitely ranked significantly higher than Snapchat.
This is especially true considering that Instagram Stories has more than 200 million daily users, which is more than Snapchat’s entire user base. This means there’s a huge audience there, just waiting to connect with you.
It’s also worth noting that Instagram really has made its name in the marketing world. Instagram now has more than 1 million advertisers vying for users’ attention every single month. Even better? A study from #Hashoff found that Instagram is the #1 platform for influencer marketing.
What does all this mean? Brands and businesses have flocked to the platform because of its rapidly growing, high engaging, high converting audience. The competition may drive up ad costs, and it can make it harder to get users attention. What this boils down to is that our content has to be exceptionally fantastic every single time, and using segmented audiences for Instagram Ads can help give you some leverage against your competitors.
Did you miss some updates? Keep on reading: we have almost 1 year of monthly updates covered!!!
Top Instagram Updates – April 2017 Edition
In this Instagram Update, we’re going to go over the new streamlined disappearing messages, the wider release of the Shoppable Instagram features, and a quick (but important) update to Instagram Live.
Are you ready to know all the details?
Streamlined Disappearing Messages
Instagram and Facebook have both been stepping up their Snapchat game, especially with the new Facebook stories and Messenger Day. Instagram’s most recent development is their new Direct, which is their private messaging platform.
It’s been updated so that everything is more streamlined; regular private messages, shared posts, and disappearing photos and videos will all seamlessly show up in the same thread.
You can access your direct messages by swiping right on Instagram. To the left of the “Write a message” field, you’ll see the Instagram icon in blue. You can click on this to send a disappearing image or video. To send a non-disappearing image or video, click on the image icon to the right.
So how does this affect businesses? For one, we may be one step closer to a full-on Instagram take-over. I don’t think Snapchat will be fazed out entirely just yet because of its loyal audience, but we will start seeing more users drop off.
This feature can be used to create urgency and drive sales quickly. You could, for example, send a discount code or information about a flash sale, especially as an incentive to actions you want your users to take (like commenting on a particular post). You’ve got to use it before it’s gone, and since users can only replay the image once, it could help you get a lot of sales quickly.
As an added bonus, since disappearing content is streamlined into the regular messaging, users can reach out and ask you questions quickly, giving you the chance to start a conversation with potential customers.
Shoppable Instagram: Wider Release
Shoppable Instagram features were announced sometime around last October or November, and we’re finally seeing some movement in its development and release. While most businesses still don’t have access, a lot more do—and that’s a big step.
At the very tail end of last month, Instagram rolled out the feature to a large number of beauty, jewelry, and apparel brands. From the information at hand, it doesn’t seem like you have to pay anything to use this feature; it’s similar to tagging a photo, just with your product information.
These posts show up with the “Shoppable” icon in the bottom corner of the image, and will prod users to “Tap to See Products.” When you click on the tag, users can see basic price and name information of the item. Users can only see product tags on mobile devices.
When they click that information bubble, they’ll be taken to a more complete description of the item, accompanied by a “Shop Now” button. If they click the CTA, they’ll be taken to the brand’s site to purchase.
We can also now tag pictures with a single product if we have a product catalog synced to our Instagram account.
Instagram Live: Now Saved
One of the only downfalls of Instagram live (in my quite humble opinion) was the fact that once the broadcast, the video was done and gone forever.
There were still plenty of benefits to using Instagram Live—especially considering the reach boost—but the lack of permanence made it less ideal. Why would you want to waste a big announcement or an interview with an influencer if you couldn’t reap semi-permanent results from it?
Instagram Live broadcasts can now be saved onto your camera roll. After the broadcast is over, save it to your phone, and then upload it as a regular video post. If the video is too long for Instagram, you can take it straight to Facebook instead. Either way, you can now save your valuable live broadcasts, allowing you to build momentum from them and drastically increase their visibility and engagement.
If you don’t have this feature yet, update your phone; it’s currently only available for iOS and Android phones.
Aaaaaaand it’s all, for now!
What do you think? Have you used any of Instagram’s new features? And what about the previous updates, did you miss anything? Keep on reading, and then share your thoughts and questions in the comments at the bottom of the page!
Top Instagram Updates – March 2017 Edition
In this month’s Instagram update, we’re going to take a closer look at both Multiple Image Posts and Instagram Stories Ads and how to use them.
Are you ready to know all the details?
Multiple Image & Video Posts
Multiple image and video posts have been slowly rolling out for iOS and Android users over the past few weeks, and I’m not sure I’ve ever seen so many businesses and users alike get on board with a new feature so quickly.
Multiple image posts (also called “carousel posts”) lets you create a single Instagram post with a slideshow of up to 10 images and/or videos. Users can scroll them. You can tag users on individual slides within the post.
Previously, the only ways to get multiple images onto Instagram was either using the image carousel ads or to use the layout app to create a photo collage; if you wanted videos and images, you had to use the image carousel ads.
These posts are engaging and dynamic, and I think it’s a powerful tool for both engagement and sales.
How to Create Them
Creating multiple image posts is really easy. Some users may not have access yet (I believe Windows users do not, and certain locations around the world may not). If you don’t, keep checking with future updates; I got the feature a week or so later than almost everyone I knew (and no, I did not wait patiently).
When you create a multiple image post, you’ll start like you would when creating a regular post. In the bottom corner of the screen, you’ll see “Select multiple images” or its associated icon if you have the feature. Click on it.
Once you do, select the images that you want to feature in the slideshow. You can rearrange their order later. Click next.
You can rearrange the order of the images on the next slide. Just click down on one image and hold it until you can move it; drag the images into the order that you want. You can also apply filters to your entire slideshow, or edit images and apply filters individually.
On the next screen, add a caption like you normally would. You can tap on the image icon and scroll through the images to tag users in individual pictures if you choose instead of tagging them in a caption.
There are so many incredible use cases for this feature, and the more creative you are with it, the better. You can show off multiple products or multiple features of a single product, for example, or a step-by-step tutorial.
Showing multiple images from different parts of an event can also help drive home the FOMO factor, and give you a chance to tag more users (or influencers) in a single post.
We shot for the #magnoliajournal today and went off the beaten path a bit. It was quite the struggle but worth the shot. It was a crazy day full of snow, cold toes, and a big dress. Thankful for a team who makes work feel like play. #magnoliajournal #laketahoe #behindthescenes #wetexans
A post shared by Joanna Stevens Gaines (@joannagaines) on
Restaurants could show the progression of a 4 course meal, all in individual images, and a painter could show how their artwork comes together, one step at a time.
A post shared by Hee Jin L. [SF Bay • LA] (@hungryhungryheejin) on
Whether you’re entertaining, selling, or informing, multiple image and video posts have so much potential.
Instagram Story Ads
Instagram story ads just rolled out within the past two days. Businesses and marketers can now run ads in Instagram stories. This new ad type is unlike anything we’ve seen, and it’s now available globally (though some individual businesses may be later than others in getting it.
Right now, there is only one objective for Instagram story ads; it’s a new objective called Reach, where the goal is (you guessed it) to reach as many users as possible.
Since stories appear at the very top of a users’ need and they don’t have to scroll in order to hopefully find you, this can help eliminate some of the competition and views.
How to Create Them
You can create Instagram story ads through Power Editor or Ads manager. Right now, there’s only one objective that lets you create Instagram story ads; this is the reach objective, which is new and rolling out users globally.
Select the “Stories” placement under the Instagram category on placements.
On the next screen, you’ll choose from a single video or a single image. Whichever you choose, it must be compatible with Instagram’s formatting requirements.
Everything else, including setting budgets and audience, is exactly the same as creating other Facebook or Instagram Ads.
Strategies to Consider
Instagram story ads are designed purely to reach as many people in your target audience as possible and build brand awareness. A few great strategies to consider include:
- Lean towards video, which gives you more time and more content to introduce your brand and product to new users
- Showcase your business’s culture and brand; what makes you different, and why should users be interested in you? Keep this question in mind when creating story ads.
- Utilize UGC; since user generated content is such a powerful selling tool, using it to win over new users at the first potential touch point can help capture their interest.
Keeping your social media profiles and your marketing practices up to date become essential when you want to continue to build your online presence and the impact that it has.
As Instagram continues to grow and evolve as a platform, utilizing all new tools and features will keep you relevant and at the forefront of your audience’s attention span.
Top Instagram Updates – February 2017 Edition
For this month of February, the biggest news is that Facebook has extended a version of its Lead Ads to Instagram.
They’re also testing new types of posts and formats, and are rolling out their stories feature to more locations.
Instagram Lead Ads: Now Available
Facebook’s lead ads have been a huge asset for marketers, and were designed to make filling out lead forms as simple as approving information Facebook automatically pulled from your profile. They were such a success on mobile that Facebook released the feature for desktop, too.
And now we have them for Instagram. To run lead ads on Instagram, just select it as a placement on your campaign.
There are a few limitations to Instagram’s version of lead ads. They’re only available to be shown on the mobile app and not on desktop. This could potentially change in the future, just like it did for Facebook, but I wouldn’t count on it since significantly more users only use Instagram’s mobile app. To open the ad and fill out the form, users will also need to click through several pages to complete them; this could potentially make them slightly less effective than the Facebook version.
The fields and questions you can add to the Instagram Lead Ads are also limited. Instagram’s version only supports specific pre-filled forms; it doesn’t seem like you can add your own questions to the form like you can on Facebook. This is another hit, but you can still get name and best contact info, which is the most important part.
Live Stories Rolled Out & Competing with Snapchat: Now More Widely Available
The US and a few other locations have had Instagram’s live stories for a little over a month, but now more locations have access to the feature, too. Live stories are now available globally, including the ability to view and broadcast these stories. Upgrade to Instagram version 10.0 or higher for access.
While Instagram stories are so obviously copied from the concept of Snapchat that they haven’t even denied it, this added feature was a good choice. Instagram’s stories are snatching up some of Snapchat’s users; some social media influencers and big names have noticed that their Snapchat stories views and engagements have declined significantly since Instagram stories launched in August. This reiterates the importance of utilizing Snapchat stories (both live and regular) to live up to the full potential of the platform, especially if you don’t have a presence on Snapchat.
Multiple Images & Video Posts: Still in Testing
Instagram seems to be testing a new format of posts that allows users to display multiple images and videos. Sound familiar? It’s the exact design of carousel ads, but it would be available for use to all users as regular posts.
According to The Verge, there seems to be a beta version of this feature that’s been released on select Android devices. The Verge also reports that the feature is clearly in early development and a little buggy, but it is definitely a distinct and new feature. Since the closest we can get now to this is to either run carousel ads or use the layout app to create a collage, this could be a great feature to make sure of. Instagram doesn’t give us the option to publish albums, or groups of images, like Facebook, after all—this would allow us to string together images into a collection to more effectively tell stories and sell. If we’re able to combine this with shoppable posts when that eventually rolls out, the potential will be massive.
Since Instagram hasn’t even officially confirmed this new feature yet, it’ll probably be awhile before we get it– but we probably-hopefully- will. I’m hoping businesses will get access to shoppable posts (check out our recap on that below) first, or that they’ll at least be more widely available soon. Either way, we’ll keep an eye out on any new updates for you, and when we know, you’ll know.
Either way, we’ll keep an eye out on any new updates for you, and when we know, you’ll know.
And now, just in case you missed some of the latest updates, keep on reading, we have collected the very best updates of 2016, just for you!
Top Instagram Updates – January 2017 Edition
New Post Look & Updated User Features
Starting a few weeks ago, Instagram gave its interface a cosmetic update. All non-image content (like descriptions, sponsored tags, and CTAs) will now be moved to the left-hand side of the posts, underneath the header.
It’ll be interesting to see if the new position of the CTAs affects ad results or CTRs; it doesn’t jump out at me quite as much, but Instagram has stated that they’ve made this aesthetic adjustment to “streamline the design and make it more noticeable.”
With this new post look, users can more easily share the posts they like on Instagram. The icon on the right of the username on posts opens a drop-down menu with options like “Share to Facebook” and “Share to Messenger.”
This can expand the reach of our Instagram content, as it allows and encourages users to easily share the content that they love most. Which brings us to our next new feature…
Like Facebook, users can now save content that they love so they can easily access it at a later time. This is great news for users and businesses—having your content not only shared, but also saved, can keep users thinking about your brand’s content. Users only save content they want to revisit later, after all; sometimes this is to use the information themselves, while sometimes they want to show it to someone else.
Both options benefit businesses and marketers.
To increase the likelihood that users save your content, increase the amount of content that offers value, like short tutorial videos. We always wanted all of our content to be extraordinary already, but now it’s even more important than ever.
Save Business Stories (iOS only)
Users can save posts, and we can now save our stories—there’s saving options for everyone in this update.
Plenty of businesses are using Instagram stories to their full potential, getting more eyes on their content. The problem with stories, however, is that they’ll disappear before long and they can’t be easily shared to other platforms. Instagram has given us a solution to this!
You can now save your business stories from the past 24 hours to your camera roll as a single video. This can be re-uploaded on Instagram as a regular post, or uploaded to Facebook and other platforms. You don’t have to worry about “wasting” valuable content that will only disappear.
A great use case for this is showcasing UGC. A number of businesses use stories to feature user generated content; now, you can showcase a stream of UGC in your story and then save it all into one video, which you can upload to multiple platforms with a CTA to encourage more UGC in return.
Note: as far as I know, this does not include live video. I think we’ll see the ability to save and share live videos after the fact later on (like Facebook), but we’ll have to wait a little longer for now.
Shoppable Posts (In Testing)
Instagram has so much selling potential it’s mind-boggling, but with the exception of Instagram Ads, the platform hasn’t given us a lot of flexibility with actually selling directly from it. Plenty of third-party services like Like2Buy and Have2Have.it have found ways around this; Instagram is now, however, testing shoppable posts of their own.
Shoppable posts will allow businesses to tag up to five products in a post image. When a user clicks a “Tap to View” icon below the post, tags will pop up next to the products, showing their names and prices.
If they click on the image, they’ll be able to see even more information, like the product description and any details. From there, they can click on a “Shop Now” link. This will take the user to your site, where they can quickly and easily purchase the item.
I don’t even need to explain why this has such huge selling potential—combining Instagram’s high engagement and diverse audience with Pinterest’s drive to sell feels like a goldmine for businesses. Being able to tag up to five products per image only increases this selling power, displaying items as a set and increasing the value of your average purchase.
Shoppable posts are still in testing; only a very few select big-name brands have them, and it will probably stay that way for a while. This is a big feature, and Instagram will want to make sure it’s working properly before they release it.
Don’t worry, though- we’ll let you know as soon as they’re rolling out!
Insights & Ads to Stories (Announced/Coming Soon)
I’m most excited for shoppable posts in this batch of updates, but since we won’t see it for a while still, I’ll settle on throwing my enthusiasm into this one. Instagram just announced yesterday that soon we’ll be seeing two things: Business Insights on our stories (as long as we’ve converted to a business profile), and story ads.
The lack of metrics on stories have been frustrating for all of us trying to meticulously calculate our results on Instagram; we could track everything else but this. Soon, we’ll be able to see the reach, impressions, replies, and exists for each individual story. We’ll be able to better understand how users are responding to our stories, and which content they like to see there.
Instagram Ads have already been so successful that it’s hard to imagine that Instagram story ads wouldn’t be the same. This new ad format will show users full-screen ads when they click on the story, ensuring that you’re capturing their full attention.
Like regular ads, you’ll be able to use the impeccable targeting system and take a look at detailed analytics as the campaigns progress. The idea for these ads is to focus on immersive storytelling.
We’ll almost definitely see the story insights before we see the story ads. The story insights should start rolling out within the next few weeks.
Instagram has had some big changes and developments in the past few weeks, and more is yet to come. These changes are all potentially for huge for businesses. Staying on top of the trends and keeping your profile up-to-date is the best way to maximize results.
What do you think? Have you used any of Instagram’s new features? Share your thoughts in the comments below!