In November Instagram rolled out a lot of different selling features just in time for the holiday shopping rush, and in December they gave us new ways to better connect with our target audience. The way they did this makes sense because we saw the selling features just in time to use them, and when the year is beginning, they focus on building on your relationships. And that is exactly what social networking sites are about; establishing communities and relationships with your audience. But what are the exact updates?
Alternative Text Descriptions
The first update is ‘Alternative Text Descriptions.’ Anyone that is familiar with blogging, site design or SEO already knows what alternative test descriptions are and they’re pretty much the same thing with this update. Alternative text descriptions are exactly what you think it would be; you place a description of what is taking place in the picture or video in a designated place. Users who are using screen readers will have the text read out loud to them, so they get the context of the picture even if they have trouble reading it. This way Instagram makes the platform more accessible to visually impaired users. This update comes with two options: you can depend on automatic alternative text, which uses pretty impressive object recognition technology to generate audio descriptions on their own. Even though this is unquestionably efficient, remember that technology does have its restrictions. This is available when people see pictures in their feeds, in the feature Explore, and when visiting individual profiles. You can also manually create your custom descriptions when users click on your picture or scroll through. This takes more time than the former, but it’s the better option because it allows you to make sure that the description is accurate and that it highlights the specific things that you want to showcase.
A few weeks ago, Instagram announced that there were going to be a few changes to both business and personal profiles. You can buy followers on Instagram to attract more interested Instagram users. These changes are all interface changes, with new buttons, icons, and tabs. One example of these changes is the new ‘mutual followers’ option. This allows you to see which followers you have in common with any given account. This is the same as your familiar friends on Facebook. People will also be able to see which of their friends are following a specific profile.
This option is a perfect addition for marketers and brands because it gives them the opportunity to leverage social proof. When you think a particular brand is cool, this feeling will increase when some of your friends are following the brand, thus increasing the chance you will start following the brand.
What’s also new is the ability to send voice messages in direct messaging. These voice messages can be addressed in group chats and one-on-one chats and can be up to one minute long. Instagram is known for introducing content to direct messaging and then removing it, be careful with this if you use any direct messaging option as a strategy. But do not be afraid, voice messaging is not going anywhere; they introduced voice messaging for the long run. Even though it is a handy option, we don’t see it being used professionally, thus making it a more fun option to enjoy with friends.
Stories for certain people
Sometimes you want to make a story on Instagram but don’t want everyone to see it. Maybe because you don’t want your parents to see everything that you are doing, or perhaps because you have an annoying little brother teasing you about the stuff you do. Whatever your reason is, the option to choose who can see your story is now here. You can create close friends lists on Stories, to ensure that the only people who can view it are those that you have chosen. This is not only good news for people with personal pages, but this is also available on business profiles. A big advantage of this new feature is that you can make a list of people you want to show exclusive content to. Of course, you have to be careful with this; you don’t want anyone to feel excluded. A potential use for this option is to create a list of people that are platinum level, are loyal, and customers. Show them exclusive offers with a unique code and that it’s exclusive for loyal members, for example. You can create such a list under settings, and when you publish a story select the list you want to share it with.
A few years ago Instagram started to make some phrases and hashtags unsearchable. This means when you did search on any of the blocked phrases or hashtags, it wouldn’t show any results. This included terms that seemed to put eating disorders in a positive way and even promoting them. But people are intelligent and found new ways to spell bulimia; there are 38 alternative spelling suggestions for one single term. When this came out, Instagram updated the list. A downside of this is that Instagram is limiting your freedom to search what you want to explore, but at the same time, they protect people that are easily influenced.
There are also a few new updates coming, like side-scrolling feed views. Instagram has begun testing with a new side-scrolling format for their feed viewing. This is different from the current traditional up-and-down feed and similar to their Stories format. There is not much information about this feature, but it could have a significant impact on Instagram usage. People could be more engaged when they see one post at a time. If this format does come out, it will become essential to creating high-engaging posts so that your content stays at the very top of the algorithm.
In conclusion; Instagram is continually innovating to keep their app updated and ahead of the competition. They are both rolling out new features for business and personal purposes. By doing this, they keep the app interesting for everyone, no matter if you want to share your life with your friends or make money as a business.
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