Instagram updates: a welcome game-changer for digital marketers!

March 20, 2018

Instagram has been growing at a phenomenal rate over the past two years. At the end of 2017 it hit more than 800 million monthly active users, more than double that of Twitter and Snapchat combined. And 72 percent of users say they have purchased a product after they’ve seen it on Instagram.

This growth is largely due to a raft of new features introduced in 2016, notably business profiles and analytics. Then, in August of that year, Instagram took on Snapchat with the launch of Stories. A year after it launched, Instagram Stories surpassed its rival with 250 million daily active users.

These changes have seen Instagram move from photo-sharing app to serious social media marketing contender. We round-up all the recent updates and the impact they will have on digital marketing in 2018.


  1. Organic post scheduling


In one of the biggest shake-ups since the launch of Stories, Instagram announced that it would now allow third-party apps to post organically to business profiles.

This is a game-changer for marketers, who until now have had to either restrict posting to business hours, or remember to log-in during their downtime to post content.


  1. Stories archive and highlights


When Stories first launched they were designed to be ephemeral, disappearing after 24 hours. This proved something of a headache for marketers, who spent hours creating the perfect Story only to have it disappear into the ether.

Now Stories are automatically archived, allowing users to add old Stories to the new highlights reel, which appears at the top of a user’s feed. This is a golden opportunity for businesses to showcase their brand and tell more of their story.


  1. Follow hashtags


Since the end of 2017, users have the ability to follow hashtags they are interested in to ensure that content appears in their feed.

For marketers, this makes it easy to keep an eye on industry trends and competitors (for example, they might want to follow #SocialMediaMarketing or #MarketingTrends), as well as track user-generated content via a branded hashtag.

Asking users to follow branded hashtags is another way marketers can get their own content seen, as well as the user-generated content their fans are creating.  


  1. Carousel Ads in Stories


Until now, businesses were limited to one photo or video in their Stories adverts. Ads in Stories are set to triple in length, with Instagram allowing adverts to be made up of three separate pieces of content.

Users still have the ability to swipe away, however, so marketers will have to work hard to create engaging ads that their audience will want to click through.    


  1. All-new Stories options


Instagram are constantly adding new features to Stories. Last year saw additional filters, stickers, a poll option and superzoom introduced. Now, gifs and Type Mode, which allows users to upload Stories with no images, just text, offer marketers further ways to engage their audience.


Two predictions to watch out for


  1. Regram button


Instagram has been testing a regram button to make sharing content natively a possibility. Users reported seeing a regram button at the same time as they started seeing gifs in Stories and Stories Archive being tested, so speculation is rife that a regram option is not far off.

This holds a whole host of possibilities for marketers, who will be able to encourage their followers to easily share their branded content.


  1. Shop Now button


Until the end of last year, the ability to shop directly from Instagram was only available to a handful of retailers in the US. But as 2017 came to a close, Shopping for Instagram was rolled out to thousands more merchants.

At the time of writing it is only available in the US, but we predict it’s only a matter of time before UK merchants get this feature, too.

These new features, along with ‘paid partnership’ tags, recommended posts and direct messaging changes, saw a huge shake-up of Instagram as a marketing platform last year.

Coupled with Facebook’s momentous news feed changes, marketers must now invest in Instagram as part of their digital marketing strategy and get ahead of the curve when it comes to thinking of innovative ways to use the constantly evolving platform.


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