It only makes sense that Instagram is determined to keep up with that, rolling out new features and updates to keep users engaged and ensuring their platform stays relevant.
And yep, you guessed it– we have a handful of new, great updates to discuss from the month of February.
We only have been given full access to two of the new Instagram features, but we’ve got close looks at several exciting innovations that are currently in testing and hopefully coming our way soon.
First on the list is a big one: a new integration for IGTV and Instagram.
Let’s get started.
Instagram Releases IGTV Previews In Main Feed
Quick recap: IGTV is a standalone app that allows users to upload long-form, vertical video content that takes up the full screen.
The idea is that there are different user “channels,” and like on television, something is constantly playing while you go from channel to channel.
Though it’s a standalone app, there is an integration with the main platform, and your followers on Instagram will be notified if you share new content on IGTV.
This integration was just taken a step further, allowing users to share previews of their IGTV videos in the main Instagram newsfeed.
Since Instagram has higher engagement and viewing rates, this provides an effective way to drive more relevant traffic over to watch the rest of your content.
Want to maximize the visibility of your content? You can share a one-minute preview of your IGTV video when you upload it. Users will clearly see the prompt to “Watch Full Video,” allowing them to click and be taken directly to the full content.
If you’re using IGTV as a marketing platform, take advantage of this to get as many views on your video content as possible.
Instagram Rolls Out Creative Tools for Black History Month
In the U.S., February is Black History Month, and Instagram responded with new creative tools and a promotion to showcase relevant creators on their platform that featured content on the official Instagram account.
The creative tools included camera effects and stickers that were designed by black designers.
In addition to being a great thing on its own, this also marks a big step that could indicate campaigns Instagram runs in the future.
This is a relatively socially-oriented campaign, and we may see more features (creative or otherwise) in the future for different events, holidays, or causes.
Instagram Removes Self-Harm Images
Instagram just announced that they’ll be removing any images that violate their new self-harm regulations, with the goal of protecting vulnerable users from seeing and being affected by the images.
Most brands won’t be heavily affected by this, and likely (read: hopefully) aren’t using any sort of images or captions that would make light of any sort of self-harm, but sometimes edgier brands can take things right up to the line and should take note.
Please note that this does include healed scars from self-harm or suicide attempts, so if you’re sharing an inspirational story, be careful here.
Again, this is good on its own, but it also indicates that Instagram is becoming more socially aware of how their platform impacts users and they want to make it safer and improve the user experience.
This falls in line with the ban against content that glorifies eating disorders a few months ago.
In Testing: Direct Messaging Online
Last month we saw an announcement sharing that Facebook may eventually merge their WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram direct messaging platforms into one integrated system, allowing users to potentially connect cross-platform. This won’t be rolling out (if it does happen) until end of the year at the absolute latest, but it looks like we may be seeing one step towards it very soon.
Instagram is reportedly testing direct messaging online, which was a feature previously only accessible through the mobile app.
They confirmed to TechCrunch that the product isn’t available for public testing, so it’s likely in early stages. But it’s still a big deal.
Instagram has been slowly shifting to a desktop-friendly experience over the past year, and as direct messaging is available to users, it will create one more direct interface that brands will need to respond to.
Hopefully, in the process, the API will be released so that third-party tools like Hootsuite will be able to add private messaging to their dashboards to make this a little easier for brands.
It’s good news, and I feel we’ll learn more soon.
In Testing: Donation Stickers
Facebook has had a big fundraising push in the past year, and it looks like Instagram might just be following suit soon.
This aligns with the social-oriented awareness they’ve shown with a few other updates, and it’s taking the form of the currently-in-testing donation stickers for Stories.
Jane Manchun Wong spotted this feature. It will seemingly allow users to search for non-profits or select from one they already follow on Instagram, and then use the donation sticker to encourage other users to contribute.
Ideally, this would happen on-platform, which can increase user trust and the effectiveness of campaigns.
Brands who are involved in charity work should take note of this one, as should nonprofits.
We’ll keep you updated when we learn more.
We only got access to three updates this month, and only two that we could actually use (even though users will benefit from each one).
The IGTV previews are easily the biggest development this month, but the knowledge we have of new features like the coming-to-desktop direct messaging are incredibly exciting.
We’re getting new hints at where Instagram may be going in 2019, and so far, it’s looking great.