From news sites and fashion brands to comics and crafters, brands in nearly every niche are flocking to Instagram. And it is easy to see why — with more than 1 billion active users; the platform has an incredible amount of reach for brands looking to target users under the age of 35.
But, it is also a constantly changing platform, which can make it challenging to stay up to date on the most effective Instagram strategies for increasing followers or driving Instagram engagement.
If you are already on the Instagram train, then now is the time to start building your strategy for 2020. If you aren’t using Instagram already, well, now is the time to sign up. But, before you do, there are a few changes you should make a note of.
As we look into 2020, here’s what you need to know about Instagram.
The Introduction of Instagram Checkout
In early 2019, Instagram launched Instagram Checkout, a new feature that allows customers to purchase their favorite products and then checkout right on Instagram. This is a huge change for the platform, and it offers brands a direct path to monetizing their Instagram feed.
How is Instagram Checkout different from Shoppable posts? Unlike shoppable posts, which required users to leave the app, Instagram powers the payment process in Instagram Checkout, which creates a smoother check out experience. Note: Instagram does charge a fee for this service, like most payment processors.
Here is how it works, via Instagram’s announcement:
Strategy Tip: Use Instagram photo contests to gather user-generated content and use it (with permission) in combination with Instagram checkout to create a more authentic user experience. Allowing users to see real live people using or wearing products through user-generated content can increase sales.
Instagram’s New Creator Profile
Previously, Instagram offered users two profile options: a business or personal profile. While the business profile offered access to Instagram Insights and the ability to add links to Instagram Stories (for accounts with more than 10,000 followers), it isn’t the most effective tool for Instagram creators and influencers.
Instagram recently announced a third option: Creator Profiles. This new profile option offers creators, such as influencers, bloggers, and other content creators, access to follow/unfollow data, direct messaging tools to filter and prioritize messages, and the ability to list a preferred method of content.
You can switch to an Instagram Creator Account by navigating to the hamburger menu (three horizontal lines) in the upper right corner of your Instagram account, then tap Account > Switch To Professional Account > Creator.
Why it matters: Instagram recognized that its business offering didn’t offer tools that many creators needed to build and grow their accounts. The Creator profile will make it easier than ever for influencers to see exactly what content is (or isn’t) resonating with their followers!
The New Instagram Scheduler
In a much-anticipated update, Instagram recently released a native Instagram scheduler. This means users can now schedule Instagram posts in advance. But, there are a few catches. You have to link a Facebook Page, and access to the scheduler is through Creator Studio, not directly in the Instagram app. In addition, Instagram does not allow users to schedule Instagram stories, which are incredibly effective at reaching followers.
Still, it is an exciting update that Instagram users have been waiting on for years.
What this means for brand: The scheduler makes it easier for brands to stay on top of their Instagram strategy and gives you more time to spend engaging with followers or running an Instagram giveaway, for example. There are several limitations, so if you are already using a third-party app to schedule posts on Instagram, it may not be time to switch just yet.
Instagram Tests Hiding Likes
In November, Instagram announced they would be testing hiding Instagram like counts in the US. Previously, they tested this change it seven other countries, including Canada, Australia, and New Zealand.
WATCH: Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri announces that the platform will start hiding likes for US audiences starting next week. It’s the latest step in Instagram’s quest to become the safest place on the internet. https://t.co/BGkMG57rdk #WIRED25 pic.twitter.com/WNTyAPVhaD
— WIRED (@WIRED) November 9, 2019
What could this mean for brands on Instagram? At this point, the change is just a test. Don’t expect to notice any major changes right away. However, a study of brands in locations where likes were hidden did see a decrease in overall likes. This change is defiantly one to keep an eye on in the coming months.
Instagram Gives Users Better Control Over Their Data
In October, Instagram released a statement explaining users would have more control over the data they share with third-party apps through Instagram. This includes the ability to easily remove apps they no longer want to provide access to and an updated authorization screen with more detailed information.
Facebook has faced a ton of security issues in recent years, including the Cambridge Analytica breach, exposed passwords, and privacy issues. Al these issues are causing users to leave Facebook, and it is clear that Instagram is trying to move away from the issues their parent company is facing.
What this means for brands: This move suggests Instagram is looking to build and maintain consumer trust, which is likely to have a positive impact on brands using the platform to market their businesses. While this might not impact your day-to-day strategy on Instagram, it does indicate longevity for the platform.
Before you plan your 2020 Instagram strategy, make sure you are up to date on all the changes. New Instagram features and announcements to pay attention to include:
- Instagram Checkout
- The New Creator Profile
- Native Scheduling Within Instagram
- Instagram Tests Hiding Likes
- New Data Sharing Rules
Ready to get started building followers and increasing engagement on Instagram? Woobox provides a tool that makes it easier than ever for brands to build and launch Instagram contests. Woobox Support is available from 8 am to 5 pm PST, Monday through Friday at 1-360-450-5200 and firstname.lastname@example.org.