Big Changes Coming to Instagram

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It is no surprise that social media is ever popular, with a whopping 2.46 Billion people on various social media sites. With that large of an audience, it can be difficult, if not impossible to take in all the posts, tweets, pictures and more that get posted daily from those whom you follow, like or are friends with. This is important to know, especially if you are trying to market a business or promote a campaign that requires the support of your friends and family, or word of mouth.

Knowing that you need to make your investment in creating social media posts, accessible to the masses, is only half of the battle. The other half means you need to know how you can reach the largest audience possible. This can include doing research into current trends which have been found to be successful, educating yourself on new and upcoming trends for the current and new year, along with finding unique ways to engage your audience with your post.

The key to being successful with social media marketing is to always be changing your approach, don’t be afraid to try new things and learn the new trends and platforms quickly. If you are able to do these things, your business, campaign, cause or group will greatly benefit from the increased audience you’re able to reach. What works for one group might not work for you, so don’t be afraid to keep trying and keep experimenting till you do find what works best for you and your goals.

With the world of social media constantly changing, sometimes seemingly overnight, it can be difficult to keep up with all the changes for every platform you have an account with. For the purpose of this article, we will focus on some of the big changes coming or have recently come to Instagram.

Augmented Reality

Augmented reality is a new feature that will greatly benefit those companies who sell their products directly on Instagram. Think “virtual reality” but for online shopping. Augmented reality allows for consumers to visualize what a specific product will look like with them wearing it i.e., sun glasses or makeup or sitting in their home i.e., furniture or decorations.

While augmented reality is not a new feature to online shopping, it is however, new to shopping on Instagram. As of now, augmented reality is being limited to cosmetics and eye wear on Instagram with plans to expand to other markets and products in the future.

So, how does it work exactly? The idea is that consumers will be better exposed to the feature when checking out specific products that have been tagged in a company’s post. Users will then be provided the opportunity to “try on” the product using the augmented reality filter before committing to purchasing the product. It is the hope that consumers will share the product and their augmented reality image to their stories, linking back to the original post; thereby, generating more views and ultimately more purchases.

Threads

A new Instagram app allows for you to stay connected to your closest friends and followers is known as “Threads from Instagram”. This app is the latest in the development in ways to connect users with their closest friends and Instagram followers through a new camera-first feature beyond Stories and visual message on Instagram’s Direct messaging feature.

Threads is different than other forms of video message and sharing features that currently are used, as they are limited to a smaller circle of friends, who users want to feel more connected to others throughout their day. Threads allows for users to share what they are doing throughout their day, and how they are feeling through the use of their photos and videos that are sent via a dedicated message, to close friends. 

Going off of the feature of “Close Friends”, which Instagram introduced to users last year, where users are able to share personal moments with a select group of people that they choose. Those same people are selected to be a part of a user’s “close friends”, can now message through Threads with a dedicated inbox and notifications just for them. For those who don’t yet have an established list of “close friends” you can create one after downloading the new Threads app.  

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In conjunction with sending direct messages to close friends, users can keep up with friends, via status, even when you don’t have time to send a video or photo. Status allows for users to let their close friends know what they are up to (i.e., gym, or studying, or on the move). For those who really want to share what they are doing or where they are at, can enable “Auto Status” which will automatically notify those on their close friends list, where they are without giving away exact location. The Status feature was developed with user’s privacy in mind, which is why it is a completely voluntary, opt-in feature for users who want to have an easier way to keep up with friends throughout the day.

Hiding “Likes”

In an effort to combat an increase in online cyber bulling and to shift the focus back to the content being posted instead of the social reactions to it, Instagram has begun testing to see what will happen when they remove public “likes” on post. What this means is that when scrolling through Instagram, users will still be able to “like” photos, but they will no longer be able to see the total number of likes and views that other user’s post receive. Although, users won’t be able to see how much attention their friends and those they follow receive on their post, users will still be able to see how many likes their own post receive.

Although, Instagram has been testing removing likes in several different countries, including Australia, Brazil and Canada, users in the U.S. will soon begin to experience hidden likes as well. From all the testing that Instagram has done, the feedback received has been positive with a majority of those in the test group, liking the hidden like feature.

Even though the majority of feedback provided by users has been positive, Social Media Influencers who rely on “likes” as part of making their living online, could experience some challenges if “likes” are removed for good. As a result, social media influencers may be forced to adopt new strategies or develop new ways in which to grow their reach and continue to be a social media influencer. It is not guaranteed at this point if Instagram will permanently do away with “likes” or not, it will be fun to see what happens!

Author: Ashley Christensen