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3 Instagram Updates That Will Impact Your Strategy

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With approximately 800 million monthly users, Instagram is one of the top social media platforms in today’s digital playground. And since its acquisition by Facebook in 2012, the platform has been optimized to make niche audiences easier to reach and the platform more accessible. For Tripepi Smith clients at private companies and public agencies, these new features can provide opportunities for your organization to bolster its messaging and reach. Here are three of Instagram’s latest updates:

1. Archiving and Highlighting Instagram Stories

IG Highlights/Archive

Instagram is changing the way ephemeral content lives online. Instagram Stories still have 24-hour expiration periods, but instead of simply disappearing, they’re stored in a private archive on users’ profiles. Also, users now have the option to publish these archived Stories to their profiles indefinitely, which gives organizations a chance to highlight events and campaigns.

The ‘Highlights’ update helps organizations maximize the impact of Stories campaigns, which often take a lot of resources to film and edit together. Your organization will likely have a greater return on investment when creating Stories campaigns since they can reach more people over time rather than disappear in a single day. Additionally, Highlights has the potential to reach users who aren’t looking at Instagram daily.

While ‘Story Archive’ offers the benefit of preserving storage on mobile devices, Highlights can have a substantial impact on your organization’s marketing goals and bottom line.

2. Following Hashtags

Instagram has followed Twitter’s direction and given its users the ability to ‘follow’ hashtags. Instagrammers can now see top posts about hashtagged topics directly in their News Feeds. This update creates an additional space (users can also search hashtags in Instagram’s Explore page) for people to discover posts that are relevant to their interests from accounts that are outside their routine social connection–helping them escape the algorithm-created social media bubble.

Instagram chooses top posts based on an algorithm that detects recency and quality. The algorithm is just one mechanism that the platform uses to ensure that posts for hashtags are meaningful to the niche audiences that follow them. This can be a great feature in helping organizations reach potential new followers with specific hashtags.

PRO TIP: Avoid using too many hashtags that can appear as spam and get flagged. Instagram has developed automated and manual systems for mitigating spam and inappropriate content: Instagram’s users and community operations team can report spam and even block their creators at any time. Keep your hashtags short and specific.

PRO TIP II: Public agencies should create a lexicon of routinely-used hashtags, and monitor social media for their geographic footprint to identify other hashtags that should be included in their posts.

3. Posting From Mobile Web

IG Mobile Web

This update integrates Instagram’s website and app, allowing users to upload photos and Instagram Stories as well as save posts from a mobile web interface (Google Chrome or Safari on a mobile device). It has been a long-awaited update by the photo-sharing platform’s user base, who previously could only view photos and Stories through the mobile web interface. Now users can create photos and Stories in both Instagram’s native app and mobile website, which can be accessed by going to Instagram.com in any Internet browser on smart devices, such as tablets and smartphones.

The new mobile web features make Instagram accessible to a frequently overlooked group: users that have dated, incompatible devices or insubstantial data that can accomodate downloading Instagram’s native app. This paves the way for more users to jump online to keep up with their communities.

NOTE: Users can also use classic tools, such as text overlay, image rotation and crop to edit their photos, but they will still miss out on Instagram’s latest innovations: augmented reality filters, stickers, drawing, location tags and polls. Uploading video posts and sending direct messages remain exclusive features of the native app.

PRO TIP: By emulating a smart device in an Internet browser, Instagrammers can use a desktop device to upload Instagram photos and Stories. Instructions for various Internet browsers are below:

Google Chrome: Select “View,” scroll down to “Developer” and select “Developer Tools.” A separate window will open on the right side of your screen. At the top left of this new window, you’ll see two icons: a mouse arrow in a square and smartphone & tablet figures alongside each other. Select the latter, sign into your Instagram account and proceed with posting.

Firefox: In the “Tools” menu, you will see a submenu titled “Web Developer.” Within that submenu, select “Responsive Design Mode.” You can now select which mobile device you would like to emulate. Sign into your Instagram account and proceed with posting. Safari: In the top menu, hover over “Safari” and select “Preferences.” Select the “Advanced” tab of the Preferences window and select the “Show Develop menu in menu bar” box. Exit the window. Within the Safari menu bar, select “Develop” (between the “Bookmarks” and “Window” tabs), then hover over the “User Agent” submenu to select which mobile device you would like to emulate. Sign into your account and proceed with posting.

Safari: In the top menu, hover over “Safari” and select “Preferences.” Select the “Advanced” tab of the Preferences window and select the “Show Develop menu in menu bar” box. Exit the window. Within the Safari menu bar, select “Develop” (between the “Bookmarks” and “Window” tabs), then hover over the “User Agent” submenu to select which mobile device you would like to emulate. Sign into your account and proceed with posting.

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