After looking back at 2018, we now want to offer an outlook on technical innovations and emerging trends in 2019. Even though much has not been officially confirmed yet, one thing is guaranteed: In Instagram’s ninth year its user number will continue to rise sharply – and so will the revenues of advertising providers.
The possibility to not only follow profiles of people but also individual topics via hashtags has already been implemented for some time. Instagram posts marked with the corresponding hashtag then appear in the news feed. Thus, users encounter new sites who are currently dealing with the same topic and would otherwise be blocked by the filter bubble. A great way to discover previously unknown sites and reach a wider audience through the targeted use of hashtags. For marketing strategists, this is just as welcome as the announcement that Instagram is working on the existing story system and testing a new promoter function.
In addition, Instagram’s software specialists are constantly refining the algorithm. In the future, not only the following pages or hashtags will appear in the live feed, but also content relevant to the user from the Explorer tab. This means that it is no longer possible to completely determine for oneself what is displayed by Instagram. This intensifies the use and offers advertisers a further possibility to place advertisements between the displayed articles in addition to the Instagram story.
Now to the really interesting part for marketing experts. The parent company Facebook plans to integrate Instagram Analytics into Facebook Page Analytics. A mixing of user databases will probably not take place, but the more fine-meshed analysis of Facebook represents a clear improvement. In conjunction with the right software, a coordinated marketing strategy can be created for Instagram and Facebook.
Another improvement is the “boost” feature for on Instagram, similar to the promotion of sites on Facebook. According to sources, the same problem arises. As soon as organic pages on Facebook are pushed by payment, targeting loses its accuracy. This function has proven its worth more in larger campaigns, since even Facebook started fixed ads are more effective otherwise. The test phase for the Boost program has already started, a fixed publication date is not yet known.
Not yet announced with exact date, but definitely more than a thought, is the possibility to publish 4K photos. So far, Instagram’s photo quality is limited to 1080p. This is especially annoying for professional photographers, because photos or videos taken in 4K quality have to be scaled down with special software. But with the evolution of smartphone cameras and displays, higher resolutions are being achieved and the introduction of 2k/4k photos would be the next logical step. How and when exactly this will be implemented is not yet clear.
In any case, a more professional approach for offline Instagram events will take place. Seen as an independent PR and advertising strand its development will be part of the social media campaign. In the USA it is already a fixed part of the marketing budget, but in Germany it is still in its infancy. The choice of location (beautiful nature / minimalist loft), set (paid influencer / still life), etc. makes the success. The resulting images give an independent portfolio that can be used several times and thus has a long-term added value.
At the end of the year, Instagram introduced another innovation which also allows visually impaired people to use the social media app. The new feature is based on a technology for object recognition and visual description of images through sound. On the other hand, Instagram users can upload images and replace the automatically generated description of the photos with their own. The new read aloud feature is activated when a screen reader is used for Instagram. An extensive explanation of how an alternate text is created can be found here.
No major announcements have yet been made for 2019. The Instagram developer’s agenda is to optimize the newly introduced elements – such as the Instagram Story or IGTV – first and foremost. For marketing on Instagram, however, this does not mean a standstill, but a further step forward. Finally, it’s possible to accurately assess ads on Facebook using a proven method of analysis. A glimmer of hope remains the removal of the restriction on the resolution of images. In the past, the default for the old Polaroid format has already fallen and IGTV now allows both vertical and horizontal images. It would be a huge step forward for the brand appearance on Instagram.
Marketing Assistant at HBI Helga Bailey GmbH – International PR & MarCom
Alexander Hencel has been part of HBI’s marketing team since 2018. He is responsible for content management such as the creation of specialist articles, managing social media channels and supporting online marketing campaigns for customers and HBI.
– For questions and suggestions please contact HBI