Swipe up for more: Why Instagram is refreshing its look for 2019
Friday, May 17th, 2019
We take a look at the future of the ‘Gram as it ditches vanity metrics in favour of content and community
THIS month saw Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg take to the stage at Facebook’s annual developer conference, #F819, to talk through what we could expect from the social media giant.
Whilst Facebook’s announcement seemed to centre mainly on damage control – and an assurance that ‘the future is private’ – its visually inclined sibling looks set for a transformative makeover.
What’s Not to Like?
By far the biggest announcement was the revelation that Instagram has already begun to roll out an updated version of the app to certain users where their like-counts are hidden. Zuckerberg explained that as users scroll through their feed, there will be no visible like counts on posts – a move he thinks will make the app a healthier environment for its users.
After letting the room sit in shocked silence, pondering the future of influencer marketing’s £10bn economy, Zuckerberg admitted that actually, you can still see who’s liked a photo or a video by simply tapping through to view a list of likes. You can even count them up, if you feel so inclined.
That said, this will undoubtedly cause ripples between influencers and businesses. With an influencer’s level of engagement the most important factor in determining a brand’s likely return on investment, the inability to view their likes will make it considerably harder to gauge how engaged their audience actually is – making a strong media kit the influencer’s must-have accessory for SS19.
Instagram bosses justify the decision as a way to reduce the competitive nature of the app – shifting the focus towards content and connection in a bid to make the platform a more authentic creator space. Influencers will no longer be restricted to a regimented schedule dictated by upload times where they see the highest level of engagement, and instead encouraged to post the content they want without the worry of being scrutinised by brands and peers for their visibly low engagement.
As someone who remembers the traumatic days of refreshing your profile until you’d reached the magic safety net of 11 likes where the names would turn to numbers, the move from Instagram seems as refreshing as it is unexpected.
‘Are you sure, hun?’
In a similar vein, Instagram hinted at a new ‘nudge’ feature which will alert users before they leave a negative comment on a post. Striking comedic parallels to those well-intended apps designed to stop drunk texting at 3am, the alert won’t actually block the comment, but simply cause the user to stop and think before hitting that fateful send button and facing the repercussions in the harsh morning light.
Creator vs Business Profiles
With business profiles already adopted by most influencers and brands, Instagram has revealed a new alternative; the creator profile. Offering up similar exclusive benefits and analytics, creator profiles will allow users access to Instagram’s new ‘Creator Studio’, where influencers can view a range of stats including engagement, audience demographic and even data on when their followers are online. With Instagram’s current desktop offering notoriously… rubbish, this move should be a welcome one to most content creators.
It’s not all plain sailing, though – creator profiles will not be compatible with Instagram API (Application Programme Interface – essentially a way for external apps to link to Instagram), meaning users with a creator profile will no longer be able to use scheduling programmes or third-party analytic tools. It’s also rumoured that the profiles will only be available to those who reach a certain follower number, similar to the allusive swipe-up Stories feature for those in the 10,000 follower club.
Put a Filter on it
This is a fun one. This year’s F8 conference welcomed the announcement that Facebook’s Artificial Reality studio is to be rolled out to all users – meaning that everyone will be able to create their own custom Insta Story filters.
Facebook’s Spark Studio, the software used to create Instagram Stories, will soon be supported by both Mac and PC users – a move that could be huge for Instagram marketing. Cosmetics brands have already seen success with creating filters that allow consumers to ‘try on’ a product via Story features. A little bit of creative marketing could allow brands to harness the feature to revolutionise the future of online shopping – essentially try before you buy for the VR era.
Instagram also announced the launch of it’s new ‘Create Mode’, designed to improve its Stories feature. With over half a billion active users each day, the decision to advance user experiences on Stories seems like a logical one from team Zuckerberg.
View this post on Instagram
The Kar-Jenners are among those to already see success with bespoke Instagram filters
One Stop Shop
Instagram is set to roll out a new shopping tag that will allow influencers and celebrities to tag an item in an image, enabling their followers to tap through directly to the online shopping portal.
The feature – previously only available to brands – could mean more big changes in the world of influencer marketing. Up until this point, influencers have been restricted to the swipe-up Story feature or a link in their bio to send their followers to a product. Being able to directly link to a product within a post could transform the way influencers and brands work together, where the influencer could actually take on the role of salesperson.
Undoubtedly, these changes are set to shake up the face of Instagram as we know it. From hidden likes to custom Stories, the relationship between brand and influencer looks destined for a drastic facelift. All we need now are clickable links in captions, please?
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