If you haven’t recently updated your Instagram, you’re living in the dark ages my friend. Your favorite social media app has tweaked existing features and added new ones to make the Insta-experience an even better one. Even more importantly, they’ve made it a friendlier place to engage in social media marketing.

If you’re a brand or an influencer, the recent Instagram changes are especially beneficial to you. The following are 4 Instagram updates and how they’ll strengthen your marketing game.

  1. Instagram stories (and ads)

This past week, I’ve officially made the switch from Snapchat to Instagram Stories (it was good while it lasted, doggy filter). This is because Instagram found a way to consolidate my two favorite things— creeping through people’s photos and taking shots of myself looking cuter than I am with the help of heavy filters.

Instagram stories are incredible for companies and influencers looking for yet another way to infiltrate their follower’s brains. They allows you to give yourself or your brand a more personal touch than still, edited photos. The more human and real you seem to your followers, the more genuine and trustworthy you’ll be. As a brand or an influencer, this is the most important thing you can have as it translates directly into followers (and dolla signs).

Instagram story ads have also recently rolled out. Marketers can now run ads seamlessly between your friends’ Insta-stories. The way the ad stories are inserted into your story feed makes it so that you almost can’t tell it’s happening. One minute you’re watching your friend do body shots off some questionably hygienic guy in Mexico and the next you’re being sold tequila. It’s genius.

  1. Story links

For businesses and influencers, the biggest feature missing was the ability to include links in your posts. As a long-awaited (baby) step, Instagram has now allowed us to link. While you still can’t add links to your posts, you can now add them to your Instagram stories through a subtle, non-intrusive “See More” arrow at the bottom of the screen. By swiping up, users can be directed to further content without leaving the Instagram app.

  1. Multiple Image & Video Posts

Before this feature, the only way to post multiple shots with one post was to do a photo collage. And while we hate to judge, we’re judging photo collages. They’re really, really not cool.

Multiple image posts allow you to create one single post with a carousel of up to 10 photos and videos. This gives you the opportunity to maximize your content without inundating your followers with multiple separate posts. Gone are the days where you have to spend hours obsessing over whether to post the photo with your hand on your hip or the photo with your hand not on your hip. Go wild and post ‘em both. It’ll still be obnoxious, but a little less so than before.

Not only do these micro-albums serve as a way to avoid spamming people with similar photos, it gives you more room to get creative. Use this feature to visually story tell, bring followers behind the scenes or show how your product works.

While Instagram doesn’t (yet) have a 360-degree tool where you can showcase your product, companies like Audi are using this carousel feature as a way to do just that. They used multiple photos of the interior of their new Audi Q3 to mimic what a 360-degree photo or video would look like.

  1. Shoppable posts

In November 2016, Instagram began testing a new feature that allowed businesses to add product information and links to their photos. Today, Instagram Shopping is available to any jewelry, apparel or beauty brand that has uploaded their product catalog to Facebook.

This feature allows users to tap and shop the products in a photo in a few simple steps. Product information along with a “Shop Now” button allows users to buy through Instagram’s browser without ever leaving the app. This tool allows brands to streamline and quicken the buying process from Instagram.

 

Instagram will undoubtedly be surprising us with even bigger and better features in the coming months. And lucky for us, they’re keeping us marketers/influencers very much in mind when designing them.