Four Instagram Features You May Have Missed

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Instagram has kept us on our toes lately by rolling out new features almost weekly. Having so many different options for creating and sharing content is great for those of us who love to step outside the box and use Instagram for more than simply an app to share photos and videos.

But with new features appearing often, and sometimes without an App Store or Google Play notification, I bet some of them have slipped past you over the holidays. Here are four features you may have missed, and the best ways to use them moving forward.

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Following Hashtags

 

So many Instagram users are obsessed with hashtags since they allow us to discover accounts with content we’re interested in. Instead of manually checking them periodically, we can now follow our favorite hashtags and see the best content directly in our timelines.

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This is a sign that Instagram prioritizes community and hashtag use more than ever. As you may know, each Instagram post can be attached to 30 different hashtags at one time. These hashtags should be posted within the first minute your content goes live in order for your post to be shown in the “Most Recent" portion on the hashtag page.

Using popular hashtags in your niche gives you the opportunity to show up in the timelines of people who share your same interests, aka potentially grow your reputation and following. For example, using sought-after hashtags if you’re in the blogging, beauty or fashion world can really expand your core business!

  #IssaBae

#IssaBae

Even though you can now see the best content from a particular Instagram hashtag in your timeline, it is still important to engage with users who use that hashtag in order to achieve maximum exposure. Most Instagram power users will acknowledge your engagement and reciprocate if they feel your content is of quality.

And speaking of quality, if you see a post in your timeline that doesn’t match the hashtag (maybe the hashtag has a dual meaning), or a post you don’t like, feel free to hide it or simply not engage with it so Instagram’s algorithm knows you’re not a fan.

When following hashtags, be aware that your followers (or anyone if your page is public) can see the hashtags you follow via your profile. On the other hand, Instagram doesn’t show us how many people follow a certain hashtag, just how many times it has been used. The hashtags I follow don’t have millions of uses, so thankfully I haven’t noticed an overload of photos from users I don’t follow. This may vary if one follows hashtags like #love or #instagood.

  A snapshot of the hashtags I follow.

A snapshot of the hashtags I follow.

 

Recommended Posts

We knew the day would come when posts from users we don’t follow would show up in our timelines. Instagram has a new feature called Recommended Posts that will show content Instagram suspects you will like, since it's content that is enjoyed by the people you follow and engage with. These posts will reportedly appear after you see all of the new content you’ve missed from the users you follow.

  This is from my boyfriend's timeline. I'm unsure which of his followers is engaging with this content...

This is from my boyfriend's timeline. I'm unsure which of his followers is engaging with this content...

If you think about it, this is nothing too different from the ads we already see on our timelines and the content from Instagram's Explore page. Just like that content, users can hide or report content they don’t like from this section, so be careful with what you choose to give your likes to and who you choose to follow.

  You can train the Instagram algorithm to show you fewer posts from this section if you believe they aren't tailored for you.

You can train the Instagram algorithm to show you fewer posts from this section if you believe they aren't tailored for you.

  You can also temporarily hide the Recommended Posts section even though it only shows three photos at a time.

You can also temporarily hide the Recommended Posts section even though it only shows three photos at a time.

I haven’t seen the new Recommended Posts feature yet, and I assume it’s because I follow 1000+ people. For users who have smaller accounts, this may show up more often. I'm looking forward to seeing this feature and potentially finding new accounts to engage with.

 

Live Videos in Direct Messages

Yo Gotti says it goes "Down In the DMs," and DMs may get a little busier in 2018! Instagram is now allowing us to privately send live videos to others.

Here are a few use cases: Let's say you decide to go live on Instagram but you notice your BFF hasn't tuned in yet. You can now send her your live video right in the middle of your broadcast so that she doesn't miss it.

Or let's say you favorite content marketing guru is doing a Q&A, but you notice via Instagram Stories that your colleague, who is a huge fan, is out at dinner. You can now send him the live broadcast via his DMs so he can catch the video with you.

In both of these cases, the user receiving the message still has to tune into the broadcast before the live video is over. I think it's a cool way for Instagram to ensure that more eyeballs are watching video this year. It could signal the beginning of more original content on Instagram by Instagram!

 

Follow Back Button

I was upset when Instagram stopped providing us access to [free] apps that gave us information regarding unfollowers. It was an imperative part of my Instagram auditing strategy for my personal and professional accounts. However, I had a feeling Instagram was preparing to give us this information on our profiles similar to how Twitter shows if someone follows your account.

Now when viewing user profiles, the usual “Follow” button on a page will say “Follow Back” if that user follows you, but you haven’t returned the favor [yet].

  A random follower from an account I manage so I don't call out my followers. :)

A random follower from an account I manage so I don't call out my followers. :)

I've already seen it a few times and have selected a few people to follow back as it appears I missed their follows! It's a prime example of a small change that can increase engagement across the platform.

 

What do you think about these new features? Will you use them? Let me know below in the comments.

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