2018 was quite the year for Instagram. From playing with fun sliding emoji scales in Stories to the launch of IGTV, there has always been something new to talk about with this popular platform over the course of the last 12 months.
Join us as we take a look at the big Instagram announcements of the year as well as some of the smaller updates you might have missed!
Biggies for 2018
In June of 2018, we saw the launch of IGTV. This is the stand-alone app that can be accessed on its own or from within Instagram and acts as a sort of TV channel for yourself or your brand. Think YouTube and Instagram met and had a baby, that would be IGTV. If you’re still not sure what IGTV is, here’s how the platform describes it: “an app for watching long-form, vertical video from your favourite Instagram creators”. Instagram only allows us to upload 60 second max videos to our feed and only 15 second clips to Stories so IGTV has really opened up the video capabilities on the platform. Those who have a little more to say now have their perfect space on Instagram!
Can you believe Instagram only rolled out a verified badge in 2018?! That elusive blue tick is synonymous with Twitter but also with trust. This may seem like a small change but it’s an important one for bigger brands as they no longer have to grapple for credibility in the Instagram space as there will be “proof” they are who they say they are.
This might mean people will be more likely to shop from you so happy days!
Fake followings and bought engagements have been a big problem for Instagram, especially within the influencer market, so it’s great to see them stamping down on this sort of activity. If you’ve purchased likes, comments, or followers, you’ll likely have seen these dwindle as Instagram begins their crackdown.
This should make it a level playing field on the platform once again as the inauthentic accounts will have been unearthed. It should hopefully point out to brands which influencers to work with and which to not.
Now that we’ve reflected on the big hitters, let’s look at how Instagram grew creatively in 2018…
Instagram has brought music to our ears (and Stories!) in 2018 as well as making us ask a lot of questions of our followers. Here are our top three creative changes of the year:
Music in Stories
Every story needs a soundtrack and now, Instagram has made that possible. Users can now click on a music icon that’s found among the stickers and GIFs that can be added to a Story. You can skip to the part of your selected song that you feel best represents your Story and there’s no need to worry about rights as the Instagram music library is fair game!
Sliding Emoji Scale
A new type of poll sticker – hurrah! The emoji slider is another fun way to engage with your audience on Instagram. We’ve had lots of fun with these this year.
Question Stickers for Stories
The Questions Sticker allows you to ask your followers any question that you’d like. Users who view the Story can reply to the questions, and you’ll be able to see all their responses privately. If you choose, you can share these responses publicly within the Stories feed, so this is a great way to start a conversation and gather social proof all at once.
But that can’t be it, surely? Of course not! Instagram is probably the most creative social platform out there at the moment and other advancements this year include: resizing on Stories, new focus Portrait mode, IGTV preview in Stories, and superzoom effects in Stories.
Stepping away from the creative side of things, let’s see how Instagram has optimised its advertising options in 2018…
Advances in Advertising
This year has seen Instagram continue to broaden its advertising offering. Here is a breakdown of our biggest updates of the year:
Carousel Ads Come to Stories
Carousel ads for Stories allows brands to share up to 3 pieces of content within a single ad which allows them to be a bit more creative in their advertising approach. It’s a highly engaging ad format that achieves significantly higher engagement rates, click-through rates and conversion rates so why wouldn’t you give it a shot?
Existing Instagram Posts Can Be Turned into Ads
Hallelujah! This is what many marketers have been waiting for. We can now turn organic Instagram posts into ads through Ads Manager or Power Editor. Previously, we could only promote an organic Instagram post through the in-app ‘Promote’ button but gone are those days…
New CTA Buttons
We discover restaurants, new events and things we’d love to buy through Instagram, so it only makes sense that Instagram recognised this with the introduction of new CTA buttons. Instagram is making it easier for users to discover and utilize the products and services of businesses through the following Call To Actions:
• Get Tickets
• Start Order
A nice feature of these new CTA buttons is that they don’t take you away from the app, they allow you to actually book appointments or make reservations right there which is pretty cool.
What else has Instagram been up to this year, then? Well there have been many little updates that have made our lives easier…
They say that good things come in small packages and Instagram gave us plenty of small, but significant, updates in 2018 that made us very happy indeed.
The Mute Feature
Similar to the ‘unfollow’ option on Facebook, we can now mute people without actually unfollowing them. This new feature will save a lot of arguments, that’s for sure! Make sure you’re at the top of your Insta-game and producing engaging content to avoid people clicking that mute button as much as you can.
Another awesome way to shop, oh yes! Shoppable tags are a new feature that allows qualified business profiles to tag products in their images and videos, making buying a product from them that little bit easier. Sorry, credit card…
When users mention you in a public Story, you’ll now see a blue “Add This to Your Story” prompt and you’ll immediately have a carbon copy of that Story show up as a sticker-like image. You can then do what you like to it in the edit and voilà, a wonderfully easy way to share UGC from your account!
Instagram hasn’t been known for its outstanding messaging service but 2018 has seen it really try to improve on this. Here’s some features that have been released this year to really take Instagram Direct to the next level…
Instagram has always been a bit messy when it comes to dealing with messages as Story mentions muddled the inbox and important messages might have went missed. But not to worry, as Instagram heard our moans and gave us a new and improved inbox in 2018. Messages are now sent to the Direct inbox (instead of the pending folder) and you can now star and filter messages you need to follow up on, making sure nothing is left untouched.
This chat function works much like FaceTime, and it lets you connect “face to face” with other users in real time. You can chat with up to 3 friends at one time!
Instagram is now letting users know when their friends are online through their Direct messaging feature, just like Facebook does with Messenger. Stalking your friends just got easier!
This one will be a lifesaver! This handy new feature can be used by all business accounts to save time by giving generic responses to FAQs.
Want to know more about changes in social media? Check out our round-ups of 2018 on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat and Pinterest.