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What does the new Instagram update mean for you?

The era of static Instagram posts – glossed-up photos, curated scenes, and square images – is over.

That’s not hyperbole either, simply reality. In 2022, video is king. 

Sure, photos will still have their place in the Instagram ecosystem (and in our hearts), but as consumer habits shift to full-screen vertical video at lightspeed (looking at you, TikTok), Instagram has been forced to adapt.

But where is all this coming from? 

If you haven’t seen the latest Instagram feed yet, the platform’s CEO Adam Mosseri recently dropped an announcement that the beloved app is trailing a new algorithm. The user experience will now hone in on 9:16 vertical videos – essentially, it’s taking the concept of reels (and the momentum of TikTok content types) and shifting it over to the main feed. 

Instagram is now all about full-screen content – and it’s completely transformed the way we consume and create content on the app. 

The new dimensions will change the way we shoot, edit, and think about our content. With significant more digital real estate at our disposal, it invites significant more opportunity, right? Yes!

But that’s just one of the many tweaks that Instagram is making (or has already made) in 2022. Let’s take a closer look at 4 Instagram changes in 2022 that you need to know, and how to capitalise on them to grow your brand. 

9:16 feed

Diving deeper into this new home screen interface; we know that Instagram now pushes vertical content rather than square, but what does actually mean for us as marketing professionals? Why does it matter?

instagram aspect ratio guide

Multipurpose content needs more planning.

First of all, gone are the days where you could repurpose content shot for YouTube or your website. Till now, with a little editing, you could get away with adjusting horizontal (landscape) videos to fit the square Instagram feed requirement. Could you do that now? Absolutely not. Sorry to break the news.

We’ll need to shoot vertically – be that video or photo – from hereon to use the Instagram feed to its full potential. And if you’re in the boat of creating omnichannel content (i.e. stuff you can use for multiple platforms), then you’ll need a lot more forethought.

So, if you’re going into a product shoot, taking solely landscape video just won’t cut it. Shoot with the edit and platform in mind.

What happens if you don’t? Instagram will add blurry top and bottom bars to your image/video – and 30%+ of your visual potential will be wasted.

More space to show off products (and experiment with)

With greater screen space comes greater opportunity! New dimensions encourage creativity. How can you best use the extra space? Is it by showing off more products? Is it by adding animated icons? By dividing up your image into multiple ‘sections’? 

It could be all of the above or none of them. There is no one “right” way to use the extra space – as is the case with most marketing creatives, it’s all about testing to find what connects best with your audience. Does your customer prefer more information, more simplistic visuals, more colours? Test, analyse the data, research competitors, and find out what works best for your brand. 

Repurposing content

While YouTube and Instagram won’t play nice anymore (being inversed in appearance), there’s one particular platform that sells itself as a perfect fit.

Any guesses? Yep, TikTok.

The viral video powerhouse platform arguably pioneered the 9:16 revolution, and as such, repurposing content over to the ‘Gram is a no-brainer.

While keeping in mind the tropes and trends of each platform (e.g. Raw video Vs. polished video; engaging captions Vs. simple (or no) text), the cohesive nature of the two platforms paves the way for more efficient content filming and editing. 

The bottom line? With a handful of subtle changes and tweaks, test your TikTok content on Instagram, test your Instagram content on TikTok, and use the harmony of the platforms to help grow your historic marketing and content presence! 
Oh, and hot tip: then run those 9:16 content pieces as Facebook ads with a good hook and a call to action. As you can see, despite the different social media platforms being competitive in nature, the more they sync their operations to fit consumer trends, the easier it is for marketers to be across them all at once!

The Algorithm is favouring Reels over images

instagram reels update

If the explosion of TikTok in 2022 has taught us anything, it’s that videos reign supreme. It’s true on Facebook – video ads have higher CTR compared to statics – it’s true on TikTok (obviously), and according to CEO Adam Mosseri, it’s true on Instagram too.

That’s why they’ve tweaked the algorithm to favour videos and reels. 

Okay, so what?

It means that if your prospective customer is scrolling when they should be working, if your content is a cool static image yet your competitors is a flashy video with product callouts, guess which one they’re more likely to see first?

That’s right. Video.

Photos aren’t dead, but the simple takeaway for this algorithm tweak is that you need to be doubling down on Instagram video content.

It’s proven to be more effective than static in converting customers, so if you’re not adapting, you’re getting left behind.

We’re not oblivious to the fact that time is a scarce resource. So, at the very least, while you create your video strategy (or if you need a hand doing so, get in touch) add some engaging visual elements into your static content to turn them into eye-catching GIFs.

TikTok-style features are hitting IG Reels

Cool, so we know that video’s the real deal. TikTok’s influence on Instagram is glaringly obvious. But let’s unpack it a little further.

With the 2022 Instagram changes, the user (which means you and your business) has a bounty of extra tools and resources on hand to level up the content.

Just to name a few, here’s what’s new (or improved):

Music – Add your favourite (or trending!) songs and find the perfect middle ground between the music and the video’s original sound.

Voiceover – Record your own commentary. This is perfect if you want to illustrate the benefits of a product without bombarding the viewer with on-screen text.

Text – On that point, you can still add text, but remember that Instagram is a visual platform, so always ask yourself “am I writing something that I could instead show?”

Doodles – unleash your inner kindergartener and draw over your video. This is great for highlighting specific features of your product or directing the viewer’s eye.

Stickers – after filming a new Reel, you can add a sticker to it to private a little extra context or animation.

Effects – similar to how you’d use them in stories, effects can change the aesthetic. Use this sparingly, however, as 2022 is all about authenticity.

Timer – a little hack that can help when filming UGC (user-generated content), the timer means you don’t need to hold your phone while recording a video.

Tagging

Swept under the radar because of the changing feed dimensions, Instagram’s new ability to tag — both Tagging products and Tagging reminders — is a heavily underrated 2022 update. 

Let’s start with tagging products in ads.

On the Meta backend, you can assign “product tags” to images to link particular ads with particular products on your Shopify store.

By allowing the viewer to tap the photo and see exactly which featured product is which (especially helpful if there are multiple items in one photo), it improves the user experience and simplifies the shopping process.
What does that mean for us as advertisers? Higher conversion rates. The customer knows exactly what they want from the outset and is, therefore, more likely to follow through.

Now, onto Reminder Tags

instagram reminder tags

Allowing you to promote future events – whether that’s a product launch, a competition launch, an IRL event, a discount code giveaway, or an Instagram Live session – the reminder tag lets followers see event details with an option to receive reminders.

Here’s what happens after someone opts-in for reminders:

  • 24 hours before the event starts, they’ll receive an activity feed notification 
  • 15 minutes before the event starts, they’ll receive an activity feed notification AND push notification.
  • At the start time, they’ll receive an activity feed notification AND push notification to ensure they don’t miss out.

In short, it’s a hype tool, and if properly implemented, can bring more eyes to your giveaway, flash sale, or product launch.

How can you grow your brand with Instagram in 2022?

Instagram, and digital marketing as a whole, is always changing. That means there’s always the opportunity to improve your customer experience and test new content ideas. Remember, change = opportunity.

So, given all of the 2022 Instagram changes, what can you do, today, to help grow your brand?

  1. Produce more vertical 9:16 content.
  2. Lean more toward video, and less toward photo.
  3. Use TikTok as a source of inspiration for relatable content.
  4. Set up reminder tags to build hype for sales, events, or product launches.
  5. Use product tags to streamline the customer experience.
  6. Develop a robust strategy (or get in touch with the experts to do so) to ensure your content and ads are as effective as possible.

Build your best Instagram strategy:

As a Premier Meta partner, Megaphone’s content team is always ahead of the curve when it comes to growing audiences on Instagram. Using tailored content strategies, Megaphone has successfully scaled hundreds of businesses to 7+ figures in revenue.

Want to use Instagram to grow your business? Want to increase your customer list, create more engaging content, and ultimately, grow your business? Let’s chat. 
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