7 summer Instagram updates you need to know about
Though summer is a time when most of us look for ways to take it easy, Instagram clearly isn’t like most of us. The company has remained extremely active with a number of updates, new tools, and enhanced features designed to improve the user experience. If you are responsible for creating or marketing content on Instagram, these are the top seven updates that would be good for you to know about:
1. 4-way group chats
Instagram first announced the impending 4-way group chat option in May at the F8 conference, but has now finally rolled out the feature. Perhaps the most unique aspect of these video chats is that Instagram users can continue to scroll through and interact with content on Instagram while they are participating in the group chat — a feature you won’t find in Snapchat’s, Facebook’s, or Messenger’s group chat offerings.
2. Instagram Lite
To help reach a potential market in the developing world where mobile users are less likely to have access to the storage and data that users in more developed countries have, Instagram has announced Instagram Lite, which is currently available in the Google Play store. The app is smaller than 600 kb and doesn’t allow for video sharing or direct messaging.
Whereas Instagram sometimes tips its hand weeks or months before a new product release, seemingly nobody really knew that IGTV was on its way. IGTV looks to be Instagram’s answer to challenging YouTube for the hearts and minds of long-form video creators and audiences. IGTV is built to be used on a smartphone — with viewing only happening on a vertical screen. The content is already curated to feature videos from fellow users and brands that people already follow.
4. Topic channels
The “Explore” feed now also has received a makeover to categorize the content in it by topic channels. Instagram says this categorization will help users more easily find the content and channels they want to follow. For brands, accurately tagging content can go a long way in helping ensure their content is shown in the right topic channels.
5. Open-ended Stories questions
Instagram has started to test giving users the ability to ask and answer open-ended questions in Stories. Users in Indonesia and Spain have reported the ability to create and answer open-ended questions. There is no timetable for when this feature may be rolled out to other countries, but the feature would certainly open up new engagement opportunities between brands and users.
6. “Caught Up” notifications
This may be a surprise for those of us who thought such a thing was impossible, but for the power users, Instagram is now utilizing a simple “You’re All Caught Up” message in the feed when a user has seen every post published by accounts he or she follows in the prior 48 hours.
7. Adding music to photos and videos in Stories
Brands or users who want to add a little extra oomph to their Stories content may now include music with their photos and videos in Stories. The current music library includes thousands of songs from popular and contemporary artists.
A new study shows that more than 20 percent of U.S. digital ad spend comes from retailers. eMarketer found that other top-spending industries include automotive, financial services, and travel-related businesses.
YouTube may be inserting more pre-roll and mid-roll ads into videos. SEO consultant and podcaster Dan Shure claims to have seen six ads during a recent 17-minute video and others have shared similar anecdotal evidence. A YouTube spokesperson says the ads that a user sees “will vary based on a number of factors including ad preferences and the dynamics of auction and advertiser demand.”
Users may now see all ads that brands are running across Facebook, Instagram, and Messenger. Any user can go to the new “Info & Ads” link on a brand’s Facebook page to see the ads — regardless of if they are being targeted by the ads or not.
Facebook’s “Snooze” option allows users to block certain words from their news feeds and groups for up to 30 days. The new tool should allow users to avoid spoilers and undesirable topics.
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