If you’re keeping up with social media changes, it’s likely that you’ve been drowning in the recent Facebook updates.
They’ve had a big reaction to all the controversy, and we’re excited to see how they’re making the platform better for both users and advertisers.
But what about Instagram?
Facebook’s getting all the attention, and it’s been easy to miss some really exciting updates happening on the platform if you weren’t looking out for them.
Fortunately for everyone, we are always keeping an eye on all things social media, and all the changes that are happening.
And Instagram has kept us busy this month.
In this April edition of our monthly Instagram updates, we’ll go over new great features like adding hashtags to your profile and new portrait modes.
And we’ll also take a look at how the privacy and data concerns have affected Instagram, too.
Ready to start?
You Can Add Hashtags To Your Profile
This is my favourite update in this batch, so I’m listing it first.
You can now add functioning, clickable hashtags to your business’s profile on Instagram.
Now when you type an @ (see next update) or a # followed by text in your bio, it’ll appear as a live link on your profile.
By clicking them, visitors can get to other profiles, or see other posts with the same hashtag. This is an excellent way to promote your branded hashtag to get clicks.
Even better, clickable hashtags give users new to your business a great way to check out what you’re all about.
They click, and they can see not only what you’re posting, but also all the great UGC your customers have been uploading on your behalf.
To add a hashtag to your profile, click to edit your profile. Add the “#” in the bio, and then search for your specific hashtag.
Select it, and it will be added (and clickable).
You Can Add Clickable Links to Other Profiles in Your Bio
Not only can you now add clickable hashtags to your profile’s bio on Instagram, you can also add clickable links to other profiles in your bio.
If you have a sister company that you want to promote, this is your chance to do it. Or, if you’re hosting a contest and are discussing it temporarily in the bio, you can also link to the other sponsors’ profiles while the contest is live.
This gives you a chance to help promote other businesses that you want to invest in.
Want to add a clickable link to another profile to your bio? Just follow the instructions above, but type in “@” instead of a hashtag, and search for the username.
Remember that when you mention someone else in your profile, they’ll receive a notification, and can choose to remove the link from your profile.
Good Bye Instagram API Platform
Alright, so very few readers will be surprised by this, cause we all knew that it was gonna happen. But nobody was ready!
On April 4th, in a press release published on Facebook’s newsroom, Mike Schroepfer, Chief Technology Officer at Facebook, announced that Instagram will immediately shut down part of its old platform API that was scheduled for deprecation on July 31st.
The API platform was released just within the past few months, and now it’s going back under lock and key a bit.
The older API has been shut down (in January we were told we’d have until midsummer, but the privacy updates have changed that), and access to the new platform is being severely limited.
The platform has also significantly reduced the rate that developers can pull information from the API, making it more difficult to access user data. Blame it on Cambridge Analytica if you want!
Third party tools will have their work cut out for them with this change, but again, if it’s protecting user data, it’s all good news in the long run.
New Focus Portrait Mode
Ok, now back to the fun stuff.
Instagram has released a new Focus portrait mode, which will make sure the subject of the photo is crystal clear, while the background will be slightly blurred.
This effect is similar to what many photographers and photo editors do in their own images to bring the subject of the photo center stage, and now you don’t have to hire someone expensive to do this.
This has the potential to help small businesses improve the quality of their images on Instagram and their Stories without any extra cost or training.
Instagram is Preparing to Release Nametags
This isn’t a feature that we actually have yet, but it’s one that we’ll likely see coming to us soon.
It’s Instagram version of Snapchat’s QR codes, and it works by letting users create unique images that people can scan with their Stories feature to follow you quickly.
The use case for brands on this one is excellent.
Placing the nametags and QR codes for other platforms on your in-store signage, for example, has a much better chance of helping you get new followers than asking them to type out your full Instagram username in the search bar, finding you, and then following you.
Ease of use is always a plus, and this is about as convenient as they could make the process of following someone.
Instagram Is Reportedly Developing a Data Portability Tool
TechCrunch was able to snag some great information from Instagram when they found out that the platform is reportedly developing a data portability tool.
What exactly does this mean? It’s pretty straightforward, fortunately.
Users would soon be able to use these new features to download content they’ve uploaded onto the platform, including pictures, videos, and possibly even messages they’ve exchanged.
This is happening partially (or maybe largely) in order to stay compliant with the upcoming European GDPR privacy law that’s affected Facebook. This law requires data portability, which allows users to download their content and potentially leave to upload it on a competing site.
Historically, Instagram has had poor data portability, both for users and business profiles. You can’t drag, or tap and hold on images to save them. And you can’t download images you’ve already posted
While we don’t know exactly what other feature this will lead to, there’s a chance that we could eventually get features that would allow us to export information like follower data, which we could then use for other retargeting campaigns.
Keep an eye out for future updates of this post for more info on this.
Instagram and Facebook are sister companies, so it’s no surprise they were unable to escape unscathed without some changes being made to better protect user information.
While the rollback of the API has frustrated some businesses and third-party tools, it will only be good in the long-term if it makes the platform better and safer for users.
Fortunately, this set back has been counteracted by all the great new features we’ve gotten and the ones that are in testing or development.
There are lots of great things happening for users and marketers, and plenty to be excited about.