We’re going to give you a sneak peek on these new features, what we think of them here at Site Reach and how you can improve your brand;

A Brand Spanking New Explore Page

The Instagram search and explore page was first launched in 2015 and has seen a plethora of changes over its short life, most notably the ‘Picked For You’ channels that were added in 2016 and the location and hashtag search function that was rolled out last year. However in 2018 the explore page is having its biggest makeover yet, not only will it deliver a more tailored range popular posts based upon what you already like but you will be able to browse through newly introduced ‘channels’. These channels will be based upon content you actually choose categorised by interest, for example ‘Graphic Design’, ‘SEO’ or ‘Dogs’ (everyone loves cute dogs, just admit it). Powered by augmented AI you’ll be able to choose a content channel you like and Instagram will collate the posts most applicable to that content channel making your explore page easier to use and much more personalised.

Group Video Chat

Mark Zuckerberg commented during his own F8 keynote that people were increasingly using video chat as a means to hang out with those close to them when they cannot be physically together, “It’s amazing how many of these social tools are about getting as close to feeling like we’re there with someone,” he said and thus he announced that the video chat feature already available in Facebook and WhatsApp will also be coming to Instagram in the next few weeks. This will give people the ability to chat privately, via video call with one or more people. A new video camera icon will appear in the top right hand corner of the screen when you are in your private DM’s, which when clicked will essentially call the other person or people in the conversation for a live chat. What’s even better is that the feature can be minimised so you’ll be able to carry on navigating the app and your feed at the same time as catching up with your pals.

A Filter Can Fix (Almost) Anything

AR (augmented reality) and VR (virtual reality) are very popular buzzwords at the moment and although the average Joe might assume that they are far off technologies only a select few can benefit from, they’re wrong… Instagram’s current story filters are a wonderful example of how AR can fit into everyone’s lives creating a fun and unique experiences for every user and soon people and brands will be able to create their own filters for all!

Originally introduced on Facebook last year the AR camera platform allowed developers to create their own 3D effects which can be placed inside photos or videos on Facebook and/or the Messenger platform. With Facebook opening the floodgate it’s now time for Instagram to join the party allowing developers, influencers and brands to create their own custom Insta filters.

There’s just one hang up, you will only be allowed to use a filter if you follow the page that created it, bad news potentially for the average user but great news for brands! This will undoubtedly encourage all businesses to adventure into the world of AR if they can effectively use it to coax (in the nicest way possible obviously) new followers to their account. According to Jioty Sood (product manager at Instagram) there may be one workaround to this rule if a friend who follows that page posts a story or sends you a DM using the filter, sneaky sneaky…

Although this feature is still on Beta you should expect to see a collaboration with Kylie Jenner very soon where you’ll be able to try one of her infamous lip kits. It does beg the question though, how much of an impact will this have on Snapchats popularity?

Banging tunes mate!

One of our favourite new features comes from a collaboration with Spotify. It’s a common theme to share a snapshot of your favourite album or tune to your Instagram story for everyone to see but it’s never quite as impactful as you want it to be, because well, your followers can’t actually listen to the music with you… Now, when on Spotify you’ll be able to click the share button and upload a story with a small sticker which will allow you to play the song and let you edit the story as you normally would at the same time. Powered by a deep link, the sticker will also allow followers to tap on the sticker and open the song/album page in-app (hoorah, no more swapping between apps!).

There’s also talks that we may soon be able to share GoPro footage directly onto stories which could see a whole new breed of ephemeral content appearing before our eyes.

Ban The Bully

Unfortunately as with all forms of social media, Instagram has become a target for online bullies and trolls to voice their opinions in unwarranted and often cruel ways in comment sections. To combat this Instagram is trialling a new filter feature in the comments section. It will automatically be switched on for all accounts and will use machine learning to identify language intended to harass or upset users, automatically removing the comment(s) when identified. It’s difficult to say how broad the interpretation of ‘offensive and abusive language’ will be but there will be the ability to turn the feature off in your accounts settings if you wish.

So there you have it, the big run-down of the biggest changes you can expect to see to one of the biggest apps on the market. If you’re unsure of how to go about using Instagram for your brand or business, shoot us a message, we don’t bite.