instagram features

New Stickers Are Here, Creator Accounts Coming and Other Features to Integrate into Your 2019 Instagram Strategy

By: Staff Report

December 20, 2018

Instagram has recently rolled out or is in the process of testing new features that social media marketers should keep an eye on or may start using immediately.

New Stickers: Countdowns and Questions

Whether it’s personally or for business, we are on a perpetual countdown. Five days til Christmas. 12 days to New Year’s. Four months until your birthday. Eighty days til the new Fortnite update. Only 137 days until The Social Shake-Up (Did you buy your ticket yet? There’s a discount available until Dec. 28–you save $800, which is kind of a lot.)

On Instagram, you can help your followers count down to events you’d like them to know about by adding a Countdown Sticker to your stories, which is a great way for brands to tease product launches, updates, sale dates and events.

As usual, Instagram has made it fairly easy and intuitive. You must first add a photo or video, but then you can personalize it by color a few taps and a few keyboard strokes to punch in the start and end dates will have your Countdown Sticker up and running in no time.

Perhaps even more important for brands is the rollout of Question Stickers in Instagram Live.

“Ask your favorite beauty blogger how to do their holiday makeup look and they can give you a how-to in the moment, or your favorite basketball player how to get that perfect shot and they can show you in real time,” Instagram wrote in its Info Center on Dec. 18.

To ask a question and have it answered Live, go to someone’s story and respond to their questions sticker. If they go Live to answer, you’ll see “Q&A” in your stories tray. Join the Live video and you’ll see the question they’re answering at that moment. If you want to ask more questions while they’re already live, you can go back to their story to ask a question and it’ll appear in their questions list. People going Live can also share photos and videos from their camera roll to their Live video.

Remember, you’ll need to update the app in order for these new features to appear.

Creator Accounts for Influencers

An exclusive report in The Hollywood Reporter revealed Instagram’s beta testing of creator accounts for influencers, which will “give the app’s high-profile individuals specialized tools.” Though influencers are abundant on the platform, until now they did not enjoy a customized experience on Instagram, causing some influencers to create business accounts for themselves to enjoy more additional features than the average user.

Instagram product manager Ashley Yuki told The Hollywood Reporter that this change is part of an effort to recognize influencers as “an important part of our community,” and that “we want to make sure that Instagram is the best place, and the easiest place, to build fan communities and also build [creators’] personal brands.”

The features being tested currently include new growth analytics capabilities around increases and decreases in followers, direct messaging filters for creators to better manage their inboxes and new labels to designate how (and if) they want to be contacted. The plan is to roll out the features to the wider influencer community next year.

Specific creator accounts could help change the game, since Instagram is home to so many high-profile influencers who have been craving exclusive features. Communicators who engage and work with Instagram influencers can potentially use these new additions to their advantage, especially making use of the data insights in branded partnerships.

Kelly Dye, vice president at social media and influencer marketing agency Everywhere Agency, expects creator accounts to make a significant impact, especially among Gen Z and younger millenials who don’t use email for daily communication.

“When we are doing outreach to this group, they can be unresponsive (or the opp gets buried in their DMs),” she said. “[Creator Accounts] could make it easier to contact those influencers who are streamlining all of their communication through the platform. As for the deeper dive on follower data, this is really exciting. It may give us more insight on rooting out fake followers and verifying authentic account growth.”

Direct Voice Messaging

In a Dec. 10 post on Twitter, Instagram announced that users can now send voices messages via the Direct messaging platform in the app. Audio messages can be up to a minute long and can be sent in private and group chats.

View image on Twitter
Comparatively,  Instagram is late to the voice messaging game. The Verge reports that “voice messages are quickly becoming the preferred method of communication on messaging platforms like WeChat and WhatsApp, and [this] addition may be a welcome feature for some users.”

And Joshua March, CEO of consumer-engagement platform Conversocial told Adweek, “Adding voice messaging support to Direct chats is reflective of Instagram’s growth to become a comprehensive and possible stand-alone messaging platform.” He also pointed out the potential for brands to get involved in voice messaging once Instagram introduces business messaging in 2019.

This signals yet another move toward voice tech for brand communicators and marketers, and could add another level of accessibility for some users. But is also being hailed as the potential “end of Instagram” as the app includes more features of other platforms.

At The Social Shake-Up