Instagram has supported the growth of its Stories users, with a consistent stream of new features designed to drive engagement. With the latest Instagram news, here are some of the cooler Instagram updates you might have missed out on: Sliding polls into DMs Instagram has started rolling out a feature that allows users to send polls to group chats. It works just like using poll stickers to your Stories. Only this time, you have the option to send it to a group of other users. As noted by The Verge, everyone in the group chat can view the results as the votes come in real time. The feature makes picking a beach destination or a party venue more fun (and quickly decided) than the normal haze of a typical chat group thread. If you still don’t have the feature, don’t worry – it’ll eventually find its way into your most liked of Instagram’s new features. Instagram Story Metrics Made Easy Grab our ebook Your Guide to Instagram Stories: Measuring What Matters to take Your Instagram Stories game up a notch! Social limit This month, Facebook and Instagram announced the launch of new tools designed to help people manage their time on the platforms. As reported by the BBC, these tools allow users to check how much time they’ve spent scrolling, set a reminder for when they’ve reached their allotted time, and mute notifications for a specific period of time. You can access the tools on the settings page of both apps – under “Your Time on Facebook” and “Your Activity” on Instagram. This appears to Facebook’s response to the growing awareness of mental health issues. As noted by the BBC, in December 2017, Facebook published a blog post acknowledging the negative effects of spending too much time on social media. IG Stories turns 2! They may not have come up with the original idea, but there is no doubt that Instagram was responsible for the increased popularity of short-lived content. In two years since the launch of Instagram Stories, their daily active users have grown from under 100 million a day to a staggering 400 million. Instagram’s user base looks only to grow – with new features rolled out every month to further ramp-up engagement. If you haven’t tried using Sked Social (formerly Schedugram) to schedule your Story posts so they publish automatically, trust me, you’ll be celebrating too when you see how much easier and more convenient it is. To set up Story scheduling for your account, log in and click on the Billings/Profile settings option in the sidebar menu (see below). Then, enable your account for Story scheduling (see below). Once that’s done, upload an image from your computer, Dropbox, Google Drive/Photos, an Instagram URL or Canva. Then, turn on the Story switch (green arrow below). If you have an Instagram business account that lets you add clickable links to your stories, place the URL of the webpage you want to send people to in the Add IG Story link box (blue arrow above). Then, either add the post to your queue (see below). Or schedule it for a specific date and time (see below). And if you change your mind, you can always use our drag and drop calendar to rearrange to your publishing schedule with ease. Then, select the date and time you want your post to publish and click OK. All that’s left then is to scroll up and click Submit. Done. Once your post is live, you’ll be able to keep track of all the metrics that matter most using Sked Socials analytics reporting. It’ll show you exactly which posts helped your business (or client’s business) to grow, and which ones weren’t so successful. Speaking of Instagram’s growth… Facebook shifts ad pitch to Instagram Facebook has seen a significant drop in news feed engagement since early 2018. This is in part due to its changing of the algorithm to prioritize user interactions over brand content. And with Instagram soaring to 400 million daily active users, Facebook is now shifting its ad pitches to the platform. As noted by Digiday, Facebook is now fine-tuning its pitch to advertisers. Brand-building, which used to be the news feed’s realm, has shifted to Instagram Stories. Meanwhile, the news feed is now being sold to advertisers, and Messenger is targeted for those looking to boost relationships with customers. Ad buyers have said that while Instagram’s audience may be smaller compared to its parent platform, engagement can be three times higher and cheaper to reach than Facebook. Meet Sked - The most powerful Instagram scheduling platform A place to plan & schedule your Instagram posts, Stories, videos and more. Tag locations, users and products and manage all your hashtags in one place to save 5+ hours every week. Latest Instagram News & Updates Video chat DMs Instagram now lets users video chat with anyone they have an open DM thread with. The feature allows video chat for up to four different users, each one appearing on-screen as they join in. The option can be found by tapping the camera icon next to the write a message box. As pointed out by AdEspresso, the video chat presents another way for brands to connect with customers and answer queries and concerns. It provides a live video tool that could potentially be used for troubleshooting. Stories Music Remember when you used to play music on your phone to add music to your Stories videos? Well, pretty soon that won’t be necessary for all users as Instagram has started to roll out its Music feature. It works like most stickers, allowing you to select tunes you want to add from a music library. Apart from the obvious, the added benefit of the feature is that all music in the library is free for commercial use on the platform. As pointed out by AdEspresso, this gives viewers an added benefit to stay on your Story that much longer. Get IG Verified Blue check marks are coming to Instagram! Mashable reported that Instagram is testing an in-app form that will allow brands and certain users apply for that coveted verified badge. Currently, it’s only being rolled out to a select number of users in a test group, and exclusive to iOS users. The feature is expected to be rolled out to Android users in the coming weeks. This feature will also add another level of trust to the growing e-commerce industry on Instagram. In other Instagram news… Instagram shapes fashion industry in India Speaking of shopping on Instagram, the platform is making an effort to urge users to follow fashion trends on Instagram. Last July, some of India’s most popular brands and lifestyle journalists got together at a chic café for a fashion masterclass hosted by Sandeep Bhushan – director of Facebook for India and South Asia. Earlier this year, Facebook hosted a similar event in New York, highlighting the company’s efforts to grow the Instagram market of the fashion industry. And in India, a growing number of brands have committed to an Instagram-only strategy. Brands get weird on IGTV It’s yet to be determined what exactly Instagram’s long-form vertical video space IGTV will be. That said though, a new trend has been birthed – going weird. Netflix, for one, posted a video of Riverdale heartthrob Cole Sprouse provocatively eating a cheeseburger—for an entire hour! The video gained one million views and over 6,500 comments. Other brands that have produced their own take on weirdness are Buzzfeed – with its friendly game of hamster football, and A&W Restaurants with its 10-minute short film about a day in the life of its mascot Rooty the Root Bear. “IGTV is allowing brands to experiment and see what’s resonating,” Mike Froggatt, the director of the intelligence team at research firm Gartner L2 told AdAge. “And often what resonates is, well, weird, [and] that kind of fits some brand identities out there.” It’s almost as weird as British pubs being flooded by bouquets of flowers for the “perfect” Instagram post. You may also like: How to Get the Most Out of Sked Social The Ultimate Guide to Instagram Planning and Scheduling 17 Creative Instagram Story Ideas For IGTV And Your Business How To Get Started: Our Instagram For Small Business Guide Art IG social experiment An Instagram social experiment was conducted after the Art Basel in Miami Beach last December. Using a tool developed by Artrendex, they were able to gather data that, among others, were able to identify the most Instagrammed artworks during the art fair. Image Source: Art Basel Interestingly, from a fair exhibiting some 25,000 objects, only 500 made up nearly 80 percent of images in the database. Comparing VIP only versus regular days, there were more similarities than differences in the most popular images Instagrammed. Interestingly, of the top 10 most popular images, only one came from a female artist. Check out a comprehensive review of the experiment here. Instagram reading Want to learn more about how the Instagram features mentioned above can help boost your brand, and ultimately your business? Check out the regular insights on Sked Social’s blog, such as this latest post: Image Source: Clever Social Case Study: How Sked Social increased a New Zealand agency increase its reach The case study is about Clever Social – an Auckland-based digital marketing firm for SMEs. Hear real-world solutions for an agency’s Instagram needs. It’s also proof that even digital marketing firms need help with aspects of digital marketing. Instagram Story Metrics Made Easy Grab our ebook Your Guide to Instagram Stories: Measuring What Matters to take Your Instagram Stories game up a notch! Takeaway As Instagram continues to roll out features designed to further boost engagement, the more important the platform will become. For businesses of all kinds. Join us next week for more updates and Instagram news! Subscribe to the Sked Social newsletter to get up to speed on how to make Instagram work for you. If you’re looking to carve out hours in your social media workflow, sign up for Sked’s 7-day trial. Our all-in-one Instagram scheduler allows you to automatically post images, carousels, Stories, videos and more. Tag locations, users and products and manage all your hashtags in one place to save 5+ hours every week.