The Updates Update – The New Features On Instagram Every Brand Needs To Know About

With over a billion users and counting, you’d expect Instagram would be ready to put their feet up and take it easy. Instead, they’re continuing to create, test and launch so many new updates it’s hard to keep up.

One minute you’re getting your head around a feature that hides likes and story views after 24 hours, the next you’re wrapped up in the whispers about testing song-lyric stickers for Instagram Stories.

Frankly, all this relentless improvement is pretty exhausting so, to help you stay up-to-date with all the Instagram updates, here’s our guide to what’s new – and what it means for your influencer marketing plans.

 

1. The interactive one – polling stickers on shoppable Stories

Instagram Stories is such a ridiculously effective part of their offering, even the likes of Spotify are sneaking in their own Story-inspired features. So you won’t be surprised to learn that the big new updates are all focussed on making Stories even more engaging… and even more attractive to marketers.

Even though shoppable Instagram Stories only landed in certain markets last summer, it’s already found a place at the heart of many brands’ marketing plans.

So it makes sense for one of Instagram Stories’ most popular features – namely the interactive nature of polling stickers – to be made available for sponsored content.

As well as encouraging interactions, lengthening engagement and generally making an audience feel like part of a conversation, polls is proving to have real business benefits – with Dunkin Donuts using poll stickers to reduce their cost-per-view outlay by 20%.

Of course, smart brands have been using poll stickers to engage their own following for ages – just look at how smoothly the iconic BuzzFeed quiz has translated into Stories with polls. The good news about this Instagram update is that one of Stories’ most powerful tools can now help you reach way beyond your existing audience in a truly interactive way.

 

2. The shopping one – tagging on Instagram Checkout

Checkout was one of the major recent updates Instagram introduced and it’s exciting to see just how far they intend to take it.

It’s been made available initially for brands and, more recently creators, in the US, but with a new tagging feature, Checkout is making shopping straight from your favorite accounts not only simpler, but more sophisticated.

Now, as well as allowing you to checkout within the app using your debit/credit card or Paypal, you’ll be able to shop the entire look displayed in posts by a selection of brands and content creators.

Creators can only take advantage of the feature through Checkout Beta and the brands already signed up for that and, yes, there is currently a selling fee attached for the brands too. But, as well as users now being able to instantly shop from your post, the tagged creators and brands will receive better data for tracking the direct return of their efforts.

Adidas, for example, are one of the beta trialists who are happy to talk about a 40% online sales boost they experienced in the first three months of the year – a year-on-year improvement that, while not wholly down to Checkout, is certainly an early endorsement of the update’s potential.

Photo credit: Later

3. The good deed one – Donate stickers in Stories

It’s not all about selling stuff, Instagram are also coming up with smarter ways for us to make a difference in the world.

Available to brands, creators and users, the new donate sticker allows you to raise money for a good cause.

It’s ridiculously easy to add to your Stories and you can simply swipe up to see the total that has been raised. Best of all, every penny donated goes to the chosen charity.

Only registered non-profits will be able to use this Instagram update – and these currently include incredible organizations like Black Girls Code, No Kid Hungry and the Nature Conservancy – but this is still a major step forward for raising awareness, and funds, for good causes.

Photo Credit: engadget

 

4. The watching one IGTV previews in your feed

A small tweak that could make a huge difference, this update is all about putting IGTV videos in front of as many users as possible. It’s clearly not gone unnoticed by the big-brains at Instagram HQ that restricting IGTV content to the IGTV channel was putting a barrier between your vids and your audience.

Now, instead of having to nudge your followers over to your IGTV channel through a link in your Stories or a well-worded caption, Instagram are offering 1-minute previews of your IGTV video that you can share through your main feed. And, with a handily placed ‘keep watching’ button popping up at the end of the preview, it’s far simpler for users to discover and watch everything you’re up to on IGTV.

 

Let’s not forget the creators…

Hopefully you already know about the new(ish) Creator accounts Instagram offer to users with a following of 10,000-plus and a link to a Facebook Business page. (If you’ve never seen one, take a look at this from @wongmjane.)

Well, those Creator accounts were introduced to give content creators – and their brand partners – more detailed and useful insights about their audience.

The latest update to this is to give creators access to data for not only the followers they’ve gained but the ones they’ve lost.

And given that there are so many exciting new features for content creators to take advantage of, anything that lets you better understand what works for you and your brand partners had to be worth a mention.