You probably know by now that social media changes almost every day. What you knew to be true one day might not be the case 24 hours later.
As our online social habits change, the platforms must to keep up with (and anticipate) our needs.
Instagram’s surge in popularity means the platform is constantly changing to keep their users engaged. The newest Instagram stats show there are currently more than 800 million monthly active users on the platform, and many experts believe it could reach a billion in 2018.
We’ve listed some of the most important Instagram updates that have rolled out so far this year.
Undoubtedly one of the biggest Instagram updates this year, Instagram TV (IGTV) has been best described as having a YouTube channel, but on Instagram.
This was a smart move, as the dominance of Influencer Marketing on Instagram continues to grow.
IGTV allows users to subscribe to your video channel – again, like YouTube. Like Stories, IGTV allows you to post long-form video in vertical view. Now your audience can consume more of your content as IGTV allows up to one-hour long videos.
Instagram Algorithm Changes
There was a lot of push back about the new Instagram algorithm. The new feed is designed to show you content that you care about. Posts in your feed are not always listed in chronological order anymore. The more you interact with an account, the more you will see their posts in your feed.
The downside to this algorithm is the possibility of missing out on content from accounts you like (but may not often interact with). It’s important to actively engage with your audience on Instagram. Engaging with your audience is the #1 way to keep your audience on your page!
Music in Instagram Stories
Now you can choose the right music to set the tone of your Instagram Story. You can pay homage to (and maybe even get the attention of) your favorite artists in your Stories with Instagram’s new music stickers.
Want to share your office’s Monday anthem? You can now share the Spotify tracks you’re listening to in your Story.
Remember those annoying bot comments on your posts? The ones that had an overwhelming amount of emojis and typically didn’t have any relevance to your post? Well, they aren’t gone completely, but they are much scarcer thanks to strict changes to Instagram’s API.
In my opinion, this is one of the most important Instagram updates of the year.
The Instagram API (application program interface) is a public interface that allows third-party apps to talk to and interact with Instagram. Some examples of third-party apps are schedulers, auto-likers and commenters, and analytic reporting.
The changes happened around the time of Facebook’s data misuse scandals. Thousands of apps lost access to the API once Instagram cracked down on what was allowed in the API. For marketers that believe in organic account growth and interaction, this is music to our ears (accounts with 300k followers and 6 photos, we’re looking at you).
Buying followers and engagement is not a sustainable business growth model for many reasons, and these practices are hurting businesses more than helping them.
Now, only Instagram-approved partners have access to the API. Instagram has become more selective about which developers can “talk to” their platform and what their intentions are.
Repost Instagram Stories
The Repost app makes it simple for you to repost another user’s content and keep the original content/hashtags (with the permission of the original poster, of course). Now the same function exists for Instagram Stories! No third-party app required – the repost feature works directly from the Instagram app.
New Top Posts
Making into the top 9 of an Instagram hashtag was such an accomplishment, wasn’t it? It still is, but now everyone’s top posts are different and tailored to their likes and activity – and it’s not restricted to only 9 posts anymore. A few things remain certain – the likelihood of your post showing up in top posts is contingent upon the following:
- Quality of the photo/video
- Compelling CTAs in the caption
- Timeliness of engagement after photo is posted (how quickly your posts receives likes, comments, and saves)
New Instagram Explore Page
Much like the previous algorithm, the Explore page was often guilty of displaying content that Instagram thought would be relevant to your interests. The Explore page has been restructured to deliver content to you based on your interests, tastes, and likes, rather than what Instagram thinks you might be interested in.
Making it onto the Explore page gives your brand a much bigger potential audience! The key to doing so is by truly knowing your audience — understand what they find valuable, entertaining, and interesting, what they post about, which hashtags they use, and who they follow. Then, tailor your content to fit their interests and needs.
Following Hashtags on Instagram
Have you been following any hashtags? By following hashtags related to your industry, you’ll be able to gather these new suggestions (deemed by Instagram as highly relevant) and add them into your posts!
Following hashtags also allows you to monitor your own branded hashtag!
If you’re an e-commerce brand, this Instagram update is huge! You can now tag products in your Instagram posts! This feature allows users to click on a product within the photo to shop. So much easier than sending people to your bio link. Only certain countries have this feature (for now). Here’s a list of everything you’ll need to implement this feature.
Are you utilizing Instagram for your business? Why or why not?