Instagram started this year with running functional testing which revealed the updates that might be waiting for us in the future. After the updates that took place in February, it is safe to say that current Instagram trends are reshaping the purpose of the app.
There are more than 1 billion active Instagram accounts monthly worldwide and around 50% of them are using Instagram Stories feature daily. In order to figure out how to update one of the most popular apps and keep the community growing, most of the tests are conducted for a limited time and available to a limited list of users mostly in the US and Canada.
One of the most unexpected Instagram tests was hiding likes. According to TechCrunch, hiding likes was tested in Canada several months ago and like counts were hidden from both viewers and creators of the posts. Despite the fact that creators could still check the list of people who reacted to their posts, the count of likes itself was not enabled during the testing. Likes have always been one of the key metrics on Instagram, especially important to influencers and brands. Even though the Instagram team claims that, if rolled out, this update would not cause the Instagram algorithm change, it would serve as the basis for shifting its focus to self-expression.
Instagram New Features: Tested and Rolled Out
It is a well-known fact that consistent posting ensures the engagement of your Instagram followers. Therefore, Instagram is one of the particularly valuable apps and marketing platforms for brands and businesses. In other words, it is one of the most efficient ways to connect with customers and for this reason, there are more than 25 million active business accounts on Instagram.
Instagram Shopping: Checkout
Instagram is primarily a platform where people look for inspiration and new experiences. In-app purchases are a vital part of this process. A new checkout feature is currently being tested on Instagram, enabling users to quickly and safely make purchases on the platform.
Enabled with the product tag feature, customers will be able to checkout and place their orders without the need to leave the app. The “Checkout” feature will make the shopping experience easier, more convenient and safer. Moreover, the payment information will be stored in a safe place and there will be no need to add it on a regular basis. With the additional changes to business profiles, like “Start Order” or “Shop” tabs, Instagram will also make it easier for users to find the right products, recommendations, exclusive offers, etc.
New Ad Format: Branded Content
In a nutshell, it is an Instagram feed ad. This ad format enables advertisers to promote organic publications of multiple authors with branded content as feed ads. Branded content is rapidly changing and evolving, and Instagram is a place where companies, influencers, and creators meet. Therefore, branded content will allow companies and authors of the posts to collaborate and integrate such publications into their advertising strategy. Obviously, branded content ads are all about transparency. This is exactly why such feed ads will have marks like “Paid partnership with” followed by the brand name. Like always, this type of ad can be launched and analyzed with the help of the Facebook Ads platform. A detailed guide on branded content ads can be found here.
Instagram Stories: Interactive Ads
Countless stickers, polls and other interactive elements can be used in Instagram stories ads from now on. This type of advertising will help brands get closer to their customers. With the help of interactive ads in stories, advertising on Instagram will become more inclusive. In other words, people will be more willing to interact with it. The interactive elements, for instance, will not only help the brand to vividly tell its story but also encourage the audience to interact with the content.
Instagram Explore: Introducing Ads
Instagram Explore is deeply personalized. Each Instagram user has a different, specifically tailored Explore page. According to the fact that Instagram algorithm studies behavioral patterns of each user, it becomes clear why identical Explore pages cannot exist.
In June, personalized stories were also added to the Instagram Explore pages. It works the same way as it did with suggested posts: based on user’s likes, topics, etc. Instagram stated that more than 50% of active accounts use Explore feature monthly. Therefore, it was only a matter of time until ads would also be brought to Instagram Explore. People are constantly connecting with the brands they like and, therefore, bringing ads to Instagram Explore would help users to find out about the latest trends, newest products, and companies they might like.
Ads on Instagram Explore are easy to use. It is, basically, another simple option for brands and businesses to extend their ad campaigns, boost their best Instagram marketing practices, and use another channel to reach their target audiences. Ideally, Instagram Explore might become the only destination providing a seamless experience for customers in search of something new and brands looking to connect with potential customers.
Other Instagram Trends and Updates 2019
Currently, one of the main trends is the growth of video. That is why video content will form the basis of Internet traffic. What does this have to with Instagram? With the advent of landscape video on IGTV and constant updates related to Instagram Stories, brands will get more and more opportunities to form focus groups inside the app and receive the necessary feedback. In addition, already existing elements of augmented reality, filters, and updates of camera settings on Instagram, gradually eliminate the very need to use other apps or usual camera features.
Authenticity, naturalism, and analytics follow the number 1 Instagram trend of 2019. While everything is understandable about both naturalism and authenticity, analytics requires a more in-depth study.
Changes in Instagram analytics are inevitable. The future analytics will provide detailed information on how people interact with posts and stories and what their next actions are.
Moreover, there is a possibility that audience will be segmented in accordance with the “amount” of value it brings to the brand or business. The cream of the crop is that Instagram might even provide valuable insights on how a specific Instagram audience matches people who visit your company’s website or download your app.
With the number of influencers, brands, and users constantly growing and the app constantly evolving, businesses are connecting more with potential clients and cooperating with creators on a regular basis. One of the main goals for both influencers and brands is to drive as much traffic as possible. Therefore, most of the partnerships established on Instagram are based on affiliate promotions. Despite the fact that Instagram is closely monitoring affiliate links as well as their quality and puts strict limits on following/unfollowing, the latest Instagram updates and features provide new opportunities for making a profit out of such partnerships. As long as there are no mass following, mass liking or currently popular mass viewing, Instagram can be the best choice for affiliate-related business.