Since barely a week goes by without an Instagram update, it can be hard to keep up. In this roundup, we list the most important new features launched in 2019 to keep in mind while planning your 2020 strategy.
In February, Instagram announced it would be making it easier for users to discover and watch IGTV content. When uploading an IGTV video, you could now post the first minute of that video as an Instagram post. Like any other post, it will appear in your followers home feed, alerting them to the new upload. Once the preview has ended, the video is paused and Instagram prompts the viewer to “keep watching” on IGTV. This update caused IGTV viewing figures to ‘skyrocket’ and turned the once flailing channel into a much more viable channel for brands.
Shopping through Instagram got a whole lot easier in March when 'Checkout on Instagram' was launched. It allowed users to make a purchase right then and there in the app for the very first time. Available on selected brand’s shopping posts, a ‘Checkout on Instagram’ button took you to a payment screen, without leaving Instagram. For businesses, this was another step to streamline the path to purchase, with Instagram will be charging you a fee for each transaction they facilitate.
In June, Instagram gave brands an easy way to turn influencer posts into ads. The ‘paid partnership’ tool promised to help influencer content reach larger audiences, presenting it to Instagram users who don’t follow the content creator. This feature extends the life of branded campaign assets and allows you to target them at specific segments in a totally transparent way. Each post of this kind will display a ‘paid partnership’ tag, alongside the name of the brand.
In July, Instagram extended one of its most groundbreaking updates, extending their hidden likes trial to Australia came in July when they started a test hidden likes. A post’s total like count would be hidden from public view and would only be visible to the user. “We don’t want Instagram to be such a competition,” said Instagram chief Adam Mosseri. While some speculated on the end of influencer marketing, others welcomed the focus on content that was authentic, not likes-driven and the need for sales metrics to validate the channel, rather than a few hundred likes.
Another feature added to IGTV this year was branded content tags. The ‘Paid partnership with’ tags will now be readily available for IGTV content. With more and more creators are using this platform to post long-form videos, higher view rates and increased brand interest, this was a natural progression, giving marketers an easy and transparent way to access the channel.
September was a busy month for Instagram, they also announced new restrictions around diet and cosmetic surgery promotions. Coming good on their promises to support their user’s wellbeing and mental health, they would now be restricting these posts, hiding them for users under the age of 18.
Recognizing brands’ use of Instagram to hype new product launches, the channel introduced an update taking it a step further in October. The new ‘product launch sticker’ could be added to their Instagram Stories and would allow users to set a remind and receive a push notification once the product is available for purchase. In the past, your customers would have needed to have set their own reminders.
Jumping into the world of AR ads, Instagram launched a new ‘tap to try on’ ad option in October. Tested with select brand partners, the ads for Nars, RayBan and Michael Kors added a new interactive element where user’s could effectively test out their product. This progressive ad option will be expanded beyond beauty and eyewear brands and should assist retailers in maximizing customer engagement, while helping users make a decision faster, increasing conversion.
To wrap October up, Instagram provided businesses with new, customizable Story templates for Facebook, Instagram and Messenger, just in time for the holiday period. The pre-designed templates can be customized with color, music and call to action effects and can be accessed via Facebook Ads Manager. Perfect for smaller brands looking to up their content game.