If you're one of the 500 million monthly active Instagram users, you've likely noticed a lot of changes in the past few months. The platform has overhauled the way business can set up their pages, reconfigured its algorithm, and they've even added some new features like Instagram Stories to directly compete with Snapchat. These new additions and changes have come with mixed reviews - the algorithm update in particular was hotly debated among users.
But however you feel about the updates, one thing is for certain: Instagram is comfortable introducing changes that they think will help engagement and grow its user base in the long term.
That being said, Instagram has plenty of other areas that can be expanded upon in the short-term - here are a few ways in which the app could improve.
1. Introduce Video Filters
With Facebook's recent acquisition of MSQRD, it's likely that this improvement is already be in the works. Facebook just introduced video filters into its own mobile app, allowing users the chance to add pre-selected filters and text to their profile pictures. This feature went live just in time for the Rio Olympics but only on a small scale and in selected regions.
Video filters would fit much better on Instagram, and would likely lead to much higher engagement levels in the new Instagram Stories feature.
2. Muted Pages
Sometimes, we have to add people as friends on social media that we don't necessarily want to see posts from every day - this is why Twitter and Facebook both offer users the ability to mute or unfollow other users, staying friends with them while seeing less of their content. Instagram would be wise to implement a similar feature, giving users more of the content they want to see, and less of the dog pictures posted by their distant family members (I'm looking at you, Uncle Fred).
3. Bring the Algorithm Into Stories
Now that Instagram has introduced Stories and placed them prominently atop everyone's home feed, it's time for the app to introduce an algorithm based on user interaction.
Many of the people I follow on Instagram create beautiful photography-based content, but often that doesn't translate into good Stories. What we're seeing in Instagram Stories is almost reminiscent of the early days of Twitter, where users were posting about what they had for breakfast and which subway they're taking to work that day. The best storytellers are not necessarily the best photographers, and vice versa. This is where a Stories-specific algorithm could help provide users with the best Story content upon logging in.
(And worth noting, there is an algorithm Instagram uses to determine which Stories to show users, but it's based on their Facebook and Instagram interactions, no Stories specifically)
4. Overhaul Messaging
This too is likely already in the works, but Instagram needs to overhaul its messaging platform. They should (again) follow the lead set by Snapchat, and allow users to send messages with drawings, text, and video filters. It would almost certainly lead to higher engagement, and more messages sent each month on the platform. Such an upgrade could be the Snapchat killer that the app is looking for so desperately.