Our favourite social media platform, Instagram, has been aggressively releasing new features and tools the past few months. In this blog post I’ll explain four recent changes to Instagram that you need to know about.

Think of the creative ways you can put these changes to work for your business. How will these creative features help you build your brand’s awareness, increase engagement with clients and bring more leads to your business?

1) Instagram Now Allows Landscape Images and Video

Square dimensions does not have to be the norm anymore. Whether you have a great landscape picture you want to share without having to crop or you have some amazing widescreen video, you now have the ability to share it in it’s original form directly to Instagram. 

Note: to get this new feature you have to update your Instagram app – so do that first.

Now, when choosing a photo or video, you can tap the format icon to adjust the orientation to portrait or landscape instead of square. Once you share the photo, the full-sized version of it will appear in your feed.

Instagram LandscapeInstagram Landscape

2) Threaded Messages and Improvements to Instagram Direct

About a year ago Instagram added a feature called Instagram Direct which enabled users to send photo or video messages to contacts privately. Instagram has launched improvements to Instagram Direct including threaded messages and sending content from your feed as a Direct message.

Threaded messages make it easier to go back and forth with the people you talk to the most. Similar to how your text messages work in a thread, now your direct posts follow a threaded format.

The other change to Instagram Direct is that you will now find an arrow next to the like and comment icons under every post. Tap it to send that post to a friend or group as a message using Instagram Direct. It will appear as part of your conversation, and you can tap the photo or video to see and like the original post. You can also send hashtag pages and location pages by tapping the arrow icon in the top right-hand corner. This feature is similar to the common @username way of sending a direct message to your friends and contacts, but with Instagram Direct, it’s sent privately – just between you and those you send to.

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3) Look Out For Instagram Ads

Instagram has officially launched ads management via the Facebook Power Editor. It’s not yet available to everyone.

To see whether or not you have access to Instagram ads:

1. Go to Power Editor and click the Manage Ads tab at the top of the page.

2. Click on the left side of the page and click Create Campaign.

3. Click on the dropdown next to Objective and hover over Clicks to Website. If you see New Create ads for Instagram, then you should be able to start creating Instagram ads in Power Editor. If you don’t see this option, know that they’re rolling out Instagram ads slowly.

4) Instagram Allows Scheduled Posts with Third Party Apps

You can now use third party apps such as Hootsuite and Latergram to schedule your Instagram posts. These tools are not fully automated solutions like with other platforms, however, it makes it convenient to have your posts pre-scheduled and ready to go when it’s time to publish.

With Hootsuite, for example, you must use push notifications to publish your scheduled posts. You have the option to Send Now, Schedule, or Autoschedule your Instagram posts via Hootsuite. At the time you chose to publish, you’ll receive a push notification via Hootsuite. Once you’re ready to publish, you will tap Open in Instagram, paste your caption (that’s automatically copied in Hootsuite), and tap to share the image.

Have you tried scheduling your Instagram posts with a third party app?

Again, if you haven’t yet, you will need to update your Instagram App to take advantage of most of the updates mentioned in this article.

Let me know what you think of these features. Have you put these tools to use for your brand? Has scheduling saved you time and headaches? Are you ready to advertise within Instagram?