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From mentions to shoppable feeds, algorithms and shadow banning, Instagram has surely given us plenty to talk about since January 2018. With new features cropping up every month, as well as significant changes in privacy, I put my investigative hat on and rounded up a few of the exciting things that have happened!
Instagram API and privacy changes
Earlier this year, Facebook and Instagram made very important changes to their APIs in an effort to protect your data and privacy, and nearly every company that does business on Instagram was affected by these changes. This included a few key things, such as the death of the bots, as well as a few apps that were scheduling, posting to and analysing your Instagram account. Most of the best and most functional softwares have survived the hit – the change in API was announced with very short notice, and affected everyone.
Transparency is the way forward!
Shadow-banning is not a thing
It’s official kids, shadow banning is not real. It was all a bad dream, a misunderstanding, a blip in the matrix. After relentless messages, emails, articles and how-tos, Instagram is officially responding to the question: is shadow-banning a thing? From its official report, it appears not to be. We can only speculate that the issues encountered (also by a lot of our members of the community) were simply due to unfair reports or hacking. Nevertheless, Instagram also took the time to answer some burning questions about its algorithm.
The new Explore page
The new Instagram Explore page is now a great place to find new accounts and relevant interests. The page lets you browse content via the new “channels” feature, based on your personal interests. This is with the aim of giving users much more control over the content they see, making it easier for people to find and interact with your account.
What we learnt about the IG algorithm
Instagram relies on AI learning, based on your past behaviour, to create a unique feed for everyone, essentially meaning you’ll get a personalised feed based on how you interact with various accounts (I recommend reading this article for more info).
Some of these aspects include frequency, interactions, timing, relationships and much more. Feed ranking does not favour the photo or video format universally but is once again based on what kind of content they engage with, so if you like a before and after photo, this is what is most likely to come up again and again.
Instagram doesn’t give extra feed presence to personal accounts or business accounts and does not penalise you depending on how many hashtags you use.
Top new features
- How to mute an account: it’s now possible to mute Instagram accounts. The feature lets you mute posts from accounts you follow without having to actually unfollow those accounts. This feature will give users way more control over the content they see in their feed.
- Instagram stories optimisation: from GIFs to custom filters, resharing stories and Instagram Joint Live, stories are now an integral part of the Instagram experience. On top of these major updates, Instagram also added a new “mention sticker” to go along with their location and hashtag stickers this year. Upping your stories game is essential.
- Reshare stories you have been mentioned in: the new button appears in your Instagram DMs when other accounts tag you in their stories. Clicking the button brings you to the Instagram Stories interface where you can make any edits or simply share it to your own profile. Instead of having to screenshot the image and create a new story, you can quickly share content related to you or your adventures.
- Shoppable feeds and stories: there are a few exciting features coming up aimed at improving sales for businesses (and influencers with products alike). Since the introduction of shoppable feeds thanks to a Facebook integration, Instagram has been improving the shopping experience with brand new shoppable stickers for Instagram Stories. These are similar to the regular Instagram shoppable posts in that businesses are able to tag physical products from inventory or e-commerce platform. When you click on an item in Instagram, you’re able to view the item name, price, and description.
- Optimised bios: since early this year, you can turn profile usernames and hashtags within your Instagram bio into clickable hyperlinks, which means that you include a “#” or “@” in your bio, it will automatically lead your audience to a hashtag or other Instagram profile.
- Location optimisation: it’s now easier to be discovered thanks to the new location suggestions in your stories. Get more and more people to learn about you and find your profile.
- Talking about cross-promotion, you can now share posts in stories: posts shared to Instagram Stories will display the original poster’s username, letting users tap it to check out the original post: with more and more users shifting their attention to Instagram Stories, people have been using stories to cross-promote their regular posts.
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