What the Latest Instagram Updates Mean for Your Business
We are excited to have a guest writer this month – our head of Paid Social Media Marketing, Sean Kifer. Sean has been in the social media world for over 8 years and was a former social media head for a massive retailer, Perry Ellis (owners of Penguin, Cubavera, Laundry, Nike Swim, etc.), based here in Miami. We hope you enjoy and learn about the latest Instagram updates as we kick off 2020 “socially”…
As 2019 comes to a close, we’re here to recap some of the most recent Instagram updates and changes and how they will affect your digital strategy moving forward into 2020. As you already know, social media is an ever-changing landscape that requires constant adaptability. This means that brands that do not remain flexible and innovative will continue to fall behind their competition. Indeed, my job has the same title, though the work I do differs greatly from even a year ago. Here’s what you need to know:
1. Instagram Tries to Increase Engagement on IGTV
After placing a huge emphasis on video content and its priority within the Facebook algorithm, Instagram continues to push longer form video on IGTV for increased engagement and viewership. Unfortunately for Instagram, all of those years of training us (the viewers) to watch content in 3-15 second clips may have possibly adversely affected the current success rate of IGTV. Now there is an underlying battle between short “pops” of authentic content that cater to the average viewer’s short attention span versus longer, more in-depth content pieces that are developed with greater purpose in mind. Regardless, Instagram is focused on growing IGTV and has set its competitive sights on market share from streaming companies like Netflix and Disney + etc.
This is a great opportunity to get some better reach and engagement for your own IGTV content. Now is the time to create longer videos for IGTV and build out the back end of your IG video catalogue so that you are prepared to reap the benefits in the short to long term.
Tip: Create a longer form video (2+ minutes) for IGTV, but then break it into several shorter, more snackable videos to use across other platforms including Facebook and LinkedIn. The goal is to create both long and short form videos while also keeping in mind the appropriate channel and method of delivery for each customer touch point.
2. Instagram Tests New Display Layout for IGTV
In line with their focus on strengthening engagement for IGTV, Instagram has also updated their IGTV layout for ease of viewing. Better scrolling features and the addition of categories help the user to clearly navigate the video feeds. Algorithmic interactions help put forward videos in which the viewer is more likely to have interest. The main take-away here is that the layout and user functionality more closely mirrors TikTok, a social media platform that continues to build a strong following from generation Z. While TikTok has not risen to fame quite as dramatically as Instagram and Facebook, it certainly is one newer channel to keep an eye on and may even be more relevant to your brand if you are targeting a younger demographic.
Tip: Digital trends will almost always be dictated by younger generations and help to provide insight on what is coming next. Though your business may not jump on the newest platform right away, it is always a good idea to be aware of the trends as some eventually bubble up and become the new normal. Here at iScreamSocialMedia, we’re keeping our finger on the pulse of the TikTok trend, and our clients will be the first to hear if their company can benefit from this new platform.
3. Instagram Is Now Hiding Likes in the US
The wait is over! After bouncing around from country to country, IG is now finally rolling out an update that will support the removal of the public like counters in the U.S. This update relates to decreasing online bullying and aims to put the focus back on the content itself instead of social reactions to it.
People can still like content and the owner of the post can see how many people are liking it and who they are, but no one else can. The implications of this change for businesses are still largely unknown at this time and currently it appears that Influencers will be the most impacted. Our viewpoint is this will be a failed test. While we support the notion and hope better policies to build youth confidence are adopted, the reality is that likes create likes and not seeing who else has liked or commented will decrease overall engagement. Because of this, we predict this will be a test, temporary, and unsuccessful as we project out several years, though time will tell.
Tip: Remember that not all changes stick, and some changes lead to new directions. This is a chance to watch closely and take note of how the update not only affects your business’s engagement on IG but also how it is affects your own user experience. Often times, the best course of action becomes clear when you think from a user perspective and pay attention to the micro trends forming as audiences adjust their behavior to remain relevant during changes like this.
4. Instagram Releases TikTok-Inspired “Reels” Mode
As we mentioned above, TikTok is an enormously popular app amongst Gen Z users (and some Millennials) that allows users to create and share short, Vine-like videos. Just like what Instagram did with Snapchat and the Story function, they are now focused on rolling out additional video creation elements based on TikTok’s “Reels” mode. This feature is currently being tested in Brazil and will likely roll out to more regions later in 2020.
The “Reels” mode, which works within Instagram’s Stories, pretty much replicates all of the main elements of TikTok. Users can create short videos, upload them, and remix them while using this new feature.
There’s a range of editing features included with “Reels” mode, including adding a music library, having variable playback speed, and “ghosting” (seamless scene transitions).
Tip: New editing features can bring new life to your evergreen content and allow you to be more creative – just think about the impact of features like IG stickers, animation, polls, and the question function in Instagram Stories. All of these elements can be used to your advantage, if you’re aware they are available!