These last several months have been quite interesting in the Instagram world. Some feared that things would stagnate after the Facebook acquisition, but moves in the last year have shown that Instagram is anything but stagnant as it embraces new features as it evolves in the new social photo sharing world. Instagram 2017 is an evolution of the past.
If your current impression is that Instagram is a social network for for sharing square still photos, you’re missing most of what Instagram currently offers.
This isn’t your father’s Instagram.
Beyond Transient Images
At the end of 2016 we saw the introduction of saved posts, allowing you to bookmark your favorite images from other Instagram users. You’ve always been able to “Like” images as favorites, but this now allows you to save particular favorites into a curated gallery that only you will see.
Remember Flickr’s favorites feature? It’s like that, but private.
Let’s use this feature for good, and not to create stalker galleries, okay?
Instagram 2017: Beyond Single Images
Two notable new Instagram features make it clear that the future of the service is no longer just about single images.
If you have multiple images of your own that belong together, you can now share up to ten at once. In February, Instagram added the ability to post multiple images in a slider-style (horizontally scrolling) slideshow. The first image displays in someone’s timeline, and they can swipe left and right to move between images.
Remember that saved post feature introduced last year? Instagram took it to another level in April with the introduction of collections, allowing you to create any number of named saved collections of others’ photos on the service. As with the earlier saved posts, collections are private and only visible to you.
The concept of curated collections does bring to mind a lot of similarities to Pinterest, and it will be interesting to see if public sharing of collections is in the service’s future.
A Story of Stories
It might seem that nearly every app on the planet is now cloning Snapchat’s Stories feature, but Instagram was the first major clone. Back in August 2016, they introduced the ability to create stories which would be a rolling daily collection of video clips or still images.
A few months later, they added the ability to stream live video as part of stories.
Yes, it’s a copy of Snapchat. But it brought a useful feature to Instagram’s existing network of users. And since Instagram launched its own Stories feature, Snapchat’s grown slowed by 82%. I doubt that was coincidence.
Now You See It, Now It Disappears
Snapchat’s original unique feature was its disappearing images, after you sent your photos and they were viewed by the recipient, they disappeared.
In November 2016, Instagram introduced the ability to send disappearing messages to either an individual or a group. Instagram has had a direct messaging feature for since 2013, but only with some of these new features has it become more widely used.
Awareness of The System, and Gaming It
Instagram staff is well aware of the fact that as a large, influential social network there are those who will try to game the system to develop high follower counts. The Instagress bot service was a popular way for folks to automate following and other activities, but it was banned by Instagram in mid April.
Another recent trend in an attempt to game the algorithm is the creation of Instagram “pods”. What’s a pod? It’s a network of folks using Instagram that essentially are doing manually what some of the automated bot services do by machine. They’re liking, commenting, and sharing each others’ posts in hopes of gaining traction and having more visibility in the Instagram feed algorithm. Are you a pod person?
What happens when you have a growing social network, increasingly being used by influencers to market a variety of products and services? You get noticed by the Federal Trade Commission, who recently sent a warning to many Instagram influencers reminding them that they need to be clearly disclosing any relationships with sponsors, whether they be financial or material. Instagram 2017 is a network that matters, and folks are noticing.
Poised to be the Photo Sharing Standard
When you look at Instagram’s traditional social photo sharing, and combine that with the enhanced social features including a variety of direct and group messaging, Instagram seems to be aiming to be your one and only social network around photo and video sharing.
Instagram is evolving. Are you aware of all the recent changes? https://t.co/1FMcxrZh7O
— Photowebo (@photowebo) May 2, 2017