There were many 2016 Instagram changes, with tons of new features that leave it looking quite different than the Instagram most of us started out with. From it’s humble beginnings as a simple photo sharing app, today Instagram embraces video, live streaming, and temporary content in the form of Stories.In 2016, #Instagram grew up! Learn to leverage Stories, Live Streaming and more in 2017. Click To Tweet
Here is a list of what I think are the most important changes to Instagram. I’ve followed up each with an actionable “to do,” so you can make sure you are using Instagram in your social media strategy to its greatest potential.
But before you give in to overwhelm, here is one action item to start this article: pick ONE or TWO of the below to implement.
The Algorithmic Feed
Chronological sharing of photos was no more in mid-2016. At the time of the algorithm roll out, Instagram had ballooned to over 500 million active users, and the number of photos being shared on the platform each day was something like 80+ million. It is estimated that the average user was missing up to 70% of their feed… something had to be done! Love it or hate it, it’s here to stay. I personally do think it makes the Instagram experience a better one.
More Reading: How Instagram’s Algorithm is a Real Opportunity shares a positive perspective on the changes, and how you can make the algorithm work for you, instead of against you.
Action Item: There are two here. The first is to be sure to engage with the accounts that you never want to miss in your feed. The second is to be very consistent with posting, whatever that means for you. When you take extended breaks (a few days, a week) from posting to Instagram, it takes some time to ramp back up and get seen in the feed. You can also download my free 5-point algorithm checklist to help you mitigate negative effects of the algorithm.
This one was a real win for account safety and security. There was a rash of account hacking at the end of 2015 and beginning of 2016 that had everyone a little stressed out. I rarely hear about accounts being hacked now, and I know that this is, in part, because of 2 factor authentication. In a nut-shell, when enabled, this requires two steps to recover an account password.
More Reading: How to Protect Your Instagram Account from Being Shut Down shares step-by-step instructions for finding this feature and getting it enabled.
Action Item: If you haven’t already, set this up, stat. I’m still hearing (unfortunately) that it isn’t rolled out to all users. But if you have it, you should set it up immediately.
Now you can change your Instagram account to an official business account. Business profiles have two key features: a contact button and access to account analytics. I often hear concerns from account owners that switching to a business account will punish them in the new algorithmic feed. First, I’ll say that I haven’t experienced negative effects on my own accounts, or those of my client’s. Second, I believe that if Instagram really wants to sniff out the businesses, they don’t need you to have a business account to do so ;).
And hey… if you want to do any Instagram Advertising (more on that below), you’ll need to have a business account.
More Reading: Read Should I Switch to an Instagram Business Account to figure out if it’s the right move for you, and see a step-by-step tutorial on how to complete the change.
Action Item: Make the switch! Or don’t. But if you are a business, my vote is that you switch. Then, download my guide on how to read your Instagram account stats and brush up on your skills.
To be blunt, Stories are Instagram’s knock-off of Snapchat’s most basic features. With Instagram Stories you can string together images or short videos that will disappear after 24 hours. While somewhat criticized, I actually like the addition of this feature. Within the app, it is unobtrusive, but can add a lot of dimension to your Instagram strategy.
More Reading: Get your 101 covered with How to Create Instagram Stories. And if you’ve already mastered the how, advance to the 201 class level with Expert Tips for Telling Powerful Instagram Stories.
Action Item: If you haven’t yet, tell your first Instagram Story! Not sure what to say? No worries, start with my Instagram Story prompts (I refer to these still, too!)
After several months of testing, Instagram rolled out their advertising platform to all business users. This caused some serious concern among small shops, worried that they wouldn’t be able to compete with the bigger budgets of competitors. However, I don’t think this has been the case at all. One of the main concerns was that people would be able to run up their follower numbers with a “Like” campaign, but at the time of this publishing, there is not option for that type of campaign on Instagram.
More Reading: Check out my Instagram Ads Beginners Guide to get started.
Action Item: Decide if this Instagram advertising is something to include in your overall marketing strategy. Remember, there are a lot of options for ways you can spend your marketing dollars. Just because this is new and shiny doesn’t always mean it’s the best for you.
Rolled into the Stories platform, now you can go LIVE on Instagram and stream for up to an hour. One thing to be aware of: it can’t be saved, and there are no replays. This truly is live… and very temporary! As a very busy marketer and social media manager, I’m a fan of content that can be saved and re-purposed. I couldn’t survive without re-purposing!
More Reading: Learn to Use Instagram Live Like a Pro from Jenn Herman at Jenn’s Trends.
Action Item: Go live for the first time and start experimenting! Commit to a regular interval of live streaming. Daily? Weekly? Important announcements only?
Other Favorite 2016 Instagram Changes
Instagram also rolled out tons of smaller, but fun features that enhance the Instagram experience. Some of my favorites were:
- Bookmarks: When you want to save something, you can bookmark it. No more screenshots getting lost and forgotten on your phone!
- Explore Tab: The explore tab was updated to include videos. I do miss the rotating collections that Instagram used to curate at the top, but… I’ll survive.
- Longer Videos: From 15 seconds to 60 seconds. This came out with the Advertising platform.
- Blingy Story Features: Stickers! Enough said.