In 2016, Instagram announced numerous updates to their ever-growing creative community. The updates were plentiful and if you are new to Instagram, or have just started to get more serious about Instagram for your business or personal brand, then it may be a little overwhelming. So, to help you, I’ve created a summary of the changes in 2016 for your quick reference. Here are the major updates month-by-month.
Instagram 2016: Major Changes by Month
This update was the start of many for the year. Firstly, Instagram added the feature for you to see how many people ‘viewed’ your video instead of how many just ‘liked’ the video. You can still track likes by tapping ‘views’.
One of my favourite updates of the year was the ability to switch between multiple accounts. For me, this meant that I could easily toggle between my personal and business accounts easily without having to log-out each time. There are many users who have multiple accounts – some have an account for their pet, or they run a feature account, or they have a mono versus colour account. Regardless of how many accounts you have, the end-result is that life is just that little bit easier being able to switch accounts!
Instagram announced that they would introduce 60-second videos to allow greater flexibility and creativity for the community. Previously, you could only record 15 seconds, which was considered too short by many. This update was rolled out over a few months to users. The change was driven by the growth of people watching videos on Instagram. In the previous six months to March, that audience of video viewers grew 40% (source: Instagram).
This month we saw Instagram update it’s logo and app design to reflect
how vibrant and diverse your storytelling has become.
They also updated their icons for their other apps including Layout, Boomerang and Hyperlapse. There was mixed feedback on the changes however at the end of the day, the community is still growing so it can’t be a bad thing!
Furthermore, Instagram announced a new feature for businesses that allows you to create a Business Profile. The business profile includes a ‘Contact’ button on the profile page. You can choose whether you want followers to contact you via a phone call, text or email. The business profile also gives you access to Insights: from here you can see your top posts, the gender of your followers, their age range, top locations, and what days / times your followers are most active.
The Business Profile also means that you can turn posts into ads to further boost your posts.
There are some users who choose not to install the Business Profile feature due to fears that the new algorithm will be a detriment to their engagement (as with Facebook). It’s true; the insights are not comprehensive when compared to the statistics you can get from Iconosquare, or the like.
Personally, I don’t have an issue with it. I do believe it’s basic customer service by making it as easy as possible for people to contact you as a business. Adding in the Business Profile didn’t impact my engagement rate, but if you are reticent about the change then you can add your contact information in your bio.
To see a video on how to create a Business Profile on Instagram click here.
Video channels were added to the Explore page. Here you will find “Videos You Might Like” as well as “Picked For You” featured videos. The videos that appear can be tailored to your liking. The more you like, the better Explore gets, adjusting to your preferences. And, if you see videos you don’t like, tap “See Fewer Posts Like This” in the “…” menu.
As Snapchat continues to grow, Instagram continues to try and stay in front. This month they introduced Instagram Stories – a new feature that lets you add videos and photos to your profile without feeling like your over-posting! It’s also a great spot to share moments that don’t quite fit in your feed but you still want to share. Or, you could add in some behind-the-scenes footage to show how you took a certain shot, or post a story that is a teaser like the Kate Spade example below.
If you add multiple photos, they will appear in a slideshow format. To view someone’s story, just tap on the user’s profile photo. When you view their story you can also send them a direct message by tapping “Send Message” at the bottom left part of the story (see above image).
Another feature of Stories is that you can hide you entire story from certain people. To do this, go to Options (click on the Gear icon) > Story Settings.
The Zoom feature was also added to the app this month to allow users to view posts in more detail.
Kevin Systrom, CEO and Co-Founder of Instagram, announced the introduction of a keyword moderation tool. When you click the Gear Icon in your profile there is now a Comments tool. This feature lets you hide inappropriate comments or specify words you consider offensive or inappropriate.
This feature was in addition to the tools they had already developed such as swiping to delete comments, blocking accounts, and reporting inappropriate comments.
A few more features were added to Instagram Stories this month. They added the ability to mute a story, save stories (under Story Settings) and finally, add colour to your text. Clearly, David Beckham is a fan of the coloured text (source: instagram.com/davidbeckham).
Another feature that was rolled out in September was the ability to Save Drafts. This isn’t as appealing to those that use scheduling apps to create their posts, however, for some businesses and personal users, this is useful. If you are short on time, you can start the post, save draft, then re-visit the draft when you have more time.
In October, Instagram introduced Instagram Stories on the Explore page. This just made Stories even more accessible to users. These Stories are personalised to your interests just like the posts and videos on your Explore page.
Instagram reported that more than 100 million people visit the Explore page EVERY DAY! That’s huge! So if you want to be noticed – get on Stories and start creating!
November was a busy month! Firstly, Instagram launched Boomerang. Boomerang is a video-app that “stitches together a burst of photos into a high-quality mini video that plays backwards and forwards.” It’s a lot of fun and you can post the video in Stories or as a regular post if you use the Boomerang app.
Now you can also share whom you’re with in a story by mentioning them. When someone taps on that username, they will be taken through to that user’s profile. See the below examples from @songofstyle and @demasrusli.
Some users also have the ability to add links in their Stories but as of yet, this has not been rolled out to everyone. This will be the really interesting feature if it is rolled out to everyone in 2017 as currently, the only place you can add a clickable link is in your bio. See the below example from @garyvee’s page on Instagram. When you “swipe up” you click-through to Gary’s video on YouTube.
The other updates added in November included live video on Instagram Stories and disappearing photos and videos for groups and friends in Instagram Direct. Unfortunately, Live Videos are still in rollout mode so you may or may not have this feature. Live Videos will appear in Instagram Stories. When you finish filming your live video, it will disappear from the app. By recording “live” video, you are adding a sense of urgency. Your followers will be notified that you are live (unless they turn off the notifications) and this can help boost your number of views.
The disappearing videos and photos means you can send photos and videos to groups and friends. Once viewed it will disappear. Bear in mind though that people can still take a screenshot of the photo so it may not disappear necessarily! You will be notified if someone has replayed the video or has taken a screenshot.
So, as you can see, it has been an action-packed year for Instagram. In December, Instagram announced that they have grown their community to over 600 million! So, if you are still unsure whether Instagram is the right platform for you – take a look at the numbers!
In keeping with Instagram’s commitment to keeping the app a positive place for self-expression, Kevin Systrom announced a new comment control feature. This means you can now turn off comments for a particular post. This was previously only available for a small number of accounts. To do this, tap “Advanced Settings” before you post and select “Turn Off Commenting”. You can turn comments back on after posting by tapping on the “…” menu.
Another one of my favourite updates is the ability to like a comment. To do this, you simply tap the heart icon next to any comment. Sometimes, you may get flooded with many single emojis in your comments section. It’s hard to know if it’s an automated response or genuine response. This way, you can acknowledge them regardless and alert them that you’ve seen their response and you appreciate it – robot or no robot!
Instagram also introduced Saved Posts – an update that was widely liked by the Instagram community. What does this mean? It means no more screenshots! Save your favourite posts right to your app and review them any time. The bookmark icon will allow you to save a post to a new private tab on your profile that is only visible to you.
The last update was the addition of stickers including holiday stickers and location stickers – similar to what’s being offered in Snapchat. You can move the stickers around, make them small or bigger, depending on what you’d prefer.
So, that’s the round up of all the changes that occurred on Instagram in 2016. I’m particularly looking forward to the year ahead and seeing brands grow through the use of Instagram. I hope that more updates are made to the addition of links in Stories and even posts. I can definitely see more brands using Stories and Live Videos in the year ahead.
What was your favourite update from 2016? Share your thoughts in the comments below!