Instagram moves fast. There have been tons of updates in 2017, many you may have missed. While researching for this article, we were blown away by all that has changed on the platform in these short 12 months. So allow us to take you for a trip down memory lane as we look back at all the updates that were brought to our favorite app, Instagram, in the year 2017!


Changes to the Look & Feel

Do you remember the time when you could only post one image on your Instagram account? In late February, Instagram introduced a carousel-esque update and made it possible for you to upload up to 10 photos or videos at a time organically. This was the perfect addition to the platform for people who have tons to share, but don’t want to bombard their followers with a million posts all with a similar background or setting. Being able to post multiple images at the same time also made it so much easier to maintain that coherent Instagram feed that you want. It also added new possibilities to how users utilize the app. Brands could display multiple products all at the same time, or post step-by-step tutorials with engaging content. We were big fans of this update!

 

 

Two other notable updates are threaded comments and the possibility to save posts. Before threaded comments were introduced, it was quite difficult for someone to have multiple conversations running under the same post. It was messy and could be confusing. But the introduction of threaded comments now grouped replies into a nested thread so you could easily keep track of who said what. Then, it was made possible to save posts in a place where only you can see them. What we’re exceptionally fond of is the possibility to group together saved posts into collections. You can organize the posts you want to revisit by whatever theme you would like, and it is completely private.

Next on the list is archiving posts. If you’ve ever gone through your Facebook posts from 5 years ago…you probably thought “Uhh.. yikes”. Don’t deny it, it’s okay. We’ll all been there. It’s the same with your Instagram accounts. You’ve most likely experienced some growth in your photography and editing skills or changed up your style completely. Now, instead of deleting your posts and losing all the likes, comments and the memory… You can archive them instead. You can still see these posts privately and always have the option to reintroduce it to your feed. So, the next time you’re unsure of a photo you just posted, archive it instead of deleting, just to be on the safe side!


Instagram Stories had Major Revamps

Instagram introduced stories to the platform in 2016, but brought a TON of changes to it in 2017. Stories disappear after 24 hours, and appear at the top of the news feed of all the users. But this is only the tip of the iceberg when you think about what all it can do now.

One of the first changes to Stories came in the form of live stories, so everyone could view and broadcast exactly what they were up to in real time. In the beginning, these also disappeared forever once the live stream was over, but after a month, Instagram made it possible for users to save it to their camera roll, which motivates more users to use the feature since they didn’t need to worry about losing their shared content. Another cool feature that was added to the live options came only last month. It’s now possible to invite your friends to split the screen and join the live stream, so users can view two different people on live together. This is a cool opportunity for doing interviews with people who are not around to do so in person, for instance. New opportunities to make even more engaging content for your followers.

Next, advertising was brought to Instagram Stories. Story ads began rolling out in March and let brands reach users as they scrolled through the stories of accounts they followed. Setting up an ad for Instagram stories works exactly the same as creating any other Facebook or Instagram ad, just simply check the placement for Stories and ensure that your image or video is formatted for Stories. 😉

In general, if we had to sum up all the changes to Instagram Stories, it’s clear to see that the company was focused on creating increased utility and value for users all within their app. They made it possible to add hashtag or location stickers and also tag other users in stories, which can then be clicked and direct people to the profiles or other posts made using that tag or location. Quite an effective add-on for increasing brand awareness for instance. People can tag your business and let their friends know where they are at. Some other really awesome tools were also introduced, like face filters, superzoom and many design elements like polling stickers! This one especially encourages people to engage with an Instagram Story in a very simple manner.

Another addition that we’re fond of was the ability to add links to Stories. Fair warning: this is still currently only available for verified brands and getting verified isn’t something you can request. It depends on the number of followers you have, and it’s simply a waiting game for Instagram to come and find you. Nonetheless, it presents opportunities for those verified brands to capitalize on. Think about how efficient it becomes to share a blog post on your Instagram story, or get people to a landing page. It makes it so much easier for the user to respond to your CTA that they will more likely be inclined to go ahead and click through to your site. We’re hopeful that adding links to Stories will be made more widely available in the next year.


The most recent update from Stories is Stories Highlights, a completely new section that now appears below an account’s bio. Stories now get automatically archived after the 24 hours are up, and will remain there. You then have the option of highlighting this story: having it up on your profile for as long as you desire! We can’t wait to see how brands use this new feature, and are definitely curious about what else is to come for Stories!


New Opportunities for Brands

Instagram grew substantially over the past year, and brands were paying attention. Not only is it the go-to place for influencer marketing, but it’s a great avenue for advertisers as well. In September, Instagram announced that the number of monthly advertisers doubled in the span of 7 months, going from 1 million to 2. There are two ways to look at this: increased competition and increased costs, or as an incredibly sound investment. Like Facebook, Instagram has the audiences that brands want to reach and these audiences are receptive to what they are seeing.

Another opportunity for brands is for those especially interested in influencer marketing. Testing of this feature started in summer and has been since rolled out on a large scale. Before, it was difficult for users to distinguish between when an influencer was paid to promote a product and when they weren’t, leading to increased skepticism. Instagram’s feature made it possible for accounts to tag their posts with a label clearly showing that this is a “paid partnership with XXX”. This way, it’s clear what is sponsored and what is not, and lets the influencer save their captions and tags for only the message that they want to push. It’s a win-win for brands/influencers and users who have the right to be informed. This update is yet to be available worldwide, though if you follow US accounts, you should already have been seeing it no matter where you’re located.

 


Another one for advertisers is the ability to target advertising based on Instagram profile activity. On Facebook, it has been possible to create custom audiences based on people who’ve interacted with the page: like, following it or liking and commenting on posts. This targeting opportunity was brought over to Instagram this year. You can now choose audiences based on how long they’ve watched your videos if they’ve visited your Instagram profile, sent a message or even saved a post.

They also made customer service and community management a bit easier for all those involved. A spam reduction filter powered by machine learning was introduced for all business accounts. This will, of course, improve over time as the algorithm continues to learn how to differentiate a spam comment from a real one. But this already takes away time an account manager needs to spend on removing them themselves. Another timesaver introduced was the ability to monitor all your likes and comments on Instagram through Facebook. If the Instagram account is linked to a Facebook page, you can engage with those comments and likes straight from the desktop.

Lastly, Instagram announced that shoppable features would start rolling out on the app late last year, and in 2017, development went into full force. It works just like Facebook, where you can easily tag your products in your content and users can ‘tap to view products’, and get the product information and price on the image. Shoppable photos have been limited to a small amount of larger brands to test it out for a while, though they were rolled out to some more brands in the USA in October. While it’s not fully shoppable yet for everyone, this does give us some indication of the future aspirations of Instagram and how they plan to make their platform even more attractive for businesses. How soon will we see Instagram become shoppable globally?

There was definitely way more to talk about than expected when we first started putting together this blog, and for sure, there are some things we missed. Instagram has come a long way in the past year, and presented its users with some handy tools that make the app even better! Instagram… What do you have cooking up for us this year?

 

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Header photo by Kevin Bhagat on Unsplash
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Product dev | @itspreppr| @ink361 | growth | monetization | Africa | Wildlife

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