Since launching in 2010, Instagram has evolved to become a powerful image editing and advertising tool. With a massive user base and power to influence, the platform is an integral resource for businesses looking to improve the customer experience and better market/build themselves.
If you’re looking to take your business to Instagram (or simply learn more about the ever-changing platform), here’s what you need to know to keep up:
October 29, 2015 : Instagram Introduces Carousel Ads
What it is: Carousel is a new way for brands to market themselves to prospects and customers outside of traditional photo and video ads. The introduction of Carousel Ads positions Instagram as one of today’s most powerful end-to-end advertising solutions.
- Bolsters brand awareness/impact: Carousel is a great way for brands to naturally share mobile ads via Instagram with prospects, customers or anyone who is generally interested in their posts. In fact, some industry pundits believe that Carousel has the same visual effectiveness as TV ads.
- Enhances Web conversion: The additional images customers can swipe through are linked to a website of the brand’s choice. This encourages customers to not only visit companies’ sites, but to take specific actions on those sites.
- Respects customers’ privacy: Carousel is non-invasive; in other words, anyone who doesn’t want to know more can simply scroll past the ads in his or her feed.
- Increases sales: By increasing customer reach and frequency, brands can subsequently increase profitability and long-term predictable revenue.
Examples: A retailer can use a Carousel Ad to feature the individual products (i.e. shirt, pants, shoes) in a ‘look.’ Artists (i.e. musicians, painters, writers) could advertise private lessons or workshops, for example.
How it works: Carousel lets brands use up to five still images in a single ad related to an Instagram post. Viewers can swipe through them like virtual magazine pages; a call to action button takes them to a website (of the brand’s choosing) to learn more.
Video demo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z_IPKClBx5o
December 8, 2015: Instagram 7.13 Adds 3D Touch Feature for Android
What it is: A new feature that enables Android users to enjoy 3D Touch functionality just like iPhone 6s users—but without 3D Touch technology.
- Visually striking: The feature has a nice background blur effect, smooth animations and haptics when a customer’s finger moves over one of the buttons below the image.
- Enhances user experience/customer relationship: The feature offers customers quicker access to options and actions (i.e. like, share, comment) with fewer taps, enabling brands to increase their visibility and build new customer relationships faster.
How it works: Long press on any image thumbnail and you will get an expanded view of the image, along with like, comment and share options. Drag your finger away from the center of the image to shrink it back down to thumbnail size. Drag your finger down to the “like,” “share” or “comment” icons under the picture to engage in any of those actions—without ever having to lift your finger.
February 8, 2016: Instagram 7.15 Adds Multiple Account Management
What it is: A new capability that enables both iOS and Android users to easily manage multiple Instagram accounts without having to manually log in and out.
- Ease of use: iOS and Android users can easily hop in and out of different Instagram accounts—say, multiple professional accounts or one personal, one professional account—verses having to log out and then reenter new log in credentials.
- Enhances customer engagement: With simpler ease of use, brands can switch between accounts to more seamlessly post and manage varying content. This, of course, leads to potentially increased follower engagement, as well as customer acquisition and retention.
- Increases brand exposure: Brands can create multiple Instagram accounts to better market themselves, their products/services, or their mission. For example, an artist can manage a professional account dedicated to paintings that are available for purchase, as well as an account that shares “behind the scenes” photos of the artistic process, as well as tips and tutorials.
How it works: Go to your profile settings. At the bottom, there should be an “Add Account” option. Once you’ve added a second account, you can switch between them by accessing a drop down menu located at the top left-hand corner of your screen (when on your profile page).
Video demo: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gWXojuTzmQw
March 15, 2016: Instagram Launches New Algorithm
What it is: Instagram is now optimizing users’ feeds according to a number of elements (i.e. the likelihood of a user’s interest in the content, the relationship of the user to the poster, the timeliness of the post) verses its traditional reverse chronological order. In doing so, users can see the moments they care about most first when using the app.
- Increases engagement rates: Instagram recently blogged that, on average, users miss 70 percent of the content on their feeds due to the app’s current reverse chronological order. Users would essentially have to monitor their app 24×7 in order to see all of the content they have subscribed to, which is clearly impractical if not impossible. This new algorithm will ensure content users care about most (determined using data and analytics) is displayed front and center, thus never missing an important moment. Because brands can more easily manage multiple accounts thanks to Instagram’s new multiple account management feature, they can now more easily segment and target content per account in order to capitalize on this new interest-based feed system.
- Increases profitability: Not only will brand posts be prioritized according to consumer interests, but brand advertisements will be as well. This means only ads and posts that are deemed “relevant” will appear in users’ feeds. This will increase the chances of user engagement with those ads, leading to more relevant ads from that brand and, of course, greater opportunity to profit from those ads.
How it works: The new algorithm will ensure brands remain top of mind for those followers who matter most to them—those who most deeply engage with them—by prominently displaying their content at the top of those users’ feeds, verses it getting buried below more timely (but perhaps not as relevant) posts. Additionally, the new algorithm enables brands to more quickly establish stronger customer relationships.
August 2, 2016: Instagram Introduces New Stories Feature
What it is: As the company describes in its blog, Instagram Stories is a new feature that lets users share all the moments of their day, not just the ones they want to keep on their profile. Multiple photos and videos shared will eventually appear together in a slideshow format as their “story.”
- Post as much as you want: As the company explains, Instagram Stories enables brands to avoid overposting. Instead, they can share as much as they want as creatively as they want. Companies can add text or use drawing tools to more innovatively share images, but the photos and videos that are part of your story will disappear after 24 hours and will not appear on your profile or in any feeds again.
- More uniquely tell your company’s story: Verses sharing one single photo or video, brands can now string together a number of shares to more uniquely share their products/services, philosophies and goals with followers.
- Better engage with customers: As much as we hate to say it, Instagram Stories is essentially the same thing as Snapchat stories (eek). This is good news for companies that are dominating on Instagram but do not have a target audience on Snapchat. The two social platforms are very different and attract different types of customers. So, for brands with high success rates using Instagram, Instagram Stories is ideal for further engaging with their customers.
How it works: Tap on the “plus” button located at the top left-hand side of your home screen (or swipe left in your feed). Tap the circle button at the bottom of the screen to take photos or hold it to record videos (like you would regularly do). Edit and upload your photos or videos as usual; however now you can add text or drawing to the content. Tap the pen icon to use three different types of pens. Tap “done” to save your story, and tap the checkmark button to share your story.
OTHER NOTABLE UPDATES INCLUDE:
- October 22, 2015: Instagram launches Boomerang, a vine-like app that enables you to play short bursts of video silently forward, then backward.
- May 11, 2016: Instagram updates its app design
- Earlier this year, Instagram increased its traditional 15-second video limit to 60 seconds, enabling businesses to share longer and more engaging video content.
Ready to take on Instagram? With this information you should be locked and loaded, but if you have any other questions feel free to reach out to me! I’m happy to help guide your social strategy any way I can.