You know the old saying that the only constant is change?
Well, that never been more true than when talking about social media.
You go to bed understanding exactly how a platform works — you wake up to find that everything has changed. There are new features, but also missing features, and moved features, and some features that are still there but no longer work. Arggghhh. It’s enough to make you logoff and go refill your coffee. But when it comes to the big platforms — Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, Reddit… they know you’ll be back. So you just have to sit back down, pound that coffee, and get used to their radical new designs.
It’s been just shy of 10 years since Instagram was first launched in the app store. In a lot of ways, Instagram today is still very similar to the platform it was way back then (ten years is a lifetime in tech!). But while Instagram might feel pretty similar day in and day out, they’ve actually been rolling out new products and features pretty consistently year after year.
They have also hit some pretty big milestones along the way.
So let’s dig in and breakdown some of those key new features and major milestones in this Evolution of Instagram.
Instagram Launches — October 2010
The year was 2010. The Social Network was in theaters. Moves Like Jagger was on the radio. Lost was wrapping up its final season, disappointing millions of fans all over the world. And Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger were rolling out Burbn, a mobile check-in app that was essentially a clone of Foursquare. Kevin and Mike realized they had a problem. So they did what anyone in their position — who had already raised a half a million dollars in funding — would do and they pivoted.
And thus Instagram was born. For those wondering, the name Instagram came from combining Instant (as in instant camera) and telegram.
At the time, you had to access Instagram through a mobile device. Ten years later, that’s still the case. (It’s actually not, but it still feels that way.)
Instagram Incorporates Hashtags — January 2011
In 2007, a bunch of Twitter users inadvertently invented the hashtag as a way to more easily connect and converse at a conference.
Twitter leadership thought it was a “thing for nerds,” but alas, the hashtag was born.
Hashtags were eventually incorporated into Facebook, Flickr, Tumblr and Google+ and of course, Instagram, where they made their debut in January 2011. (They have also FINALLY made their way to LinkedIn, which in the words of Verge reporter Casey Newton, is just “Facebook in slow motion.”)
Instagram Is Acquired By Facebook — April 2012
Mark Zuckerberg paid a billion dollars to buy Instagram, despite the fact that they had no revenue stream and were only 13 employees strong.
At the time, people panned the purchase. But not today! With over a billion active users, and long serving as Facebook’s primary growth platform for young people, that billion dollars now looks like a heck of a steal.
Instagram Rolls Out Explore — June 2012
If you like logging onto Instagram, checking in on your friends and the few select brands you follow, and then getting out, you were good to go from day one.
But if you are looking for new accounts to follow or interesting content to peruse, well Instagram wasn’t really built for that. Until June of 2012 that is, when they rolled out Explore.
Explore let’s you rove around Instagram in a new way, not just by username or hashtag, but also by content suggestion, curated specifically for you.
Milestone: Instagram Hits 100 Million Monthly Active Users — February 2013
Instagram picked up 100k users in the first week following their launch. It only took them a few months to get to a million users. It was six more months before they hit five million users and another three months before they hit ten million users.
They launched in October 2010. It took them less than 2.5 years to add that ninth digit to their user-base. By early February 2013, they already had more users than any European country had citizens.
Not bad for a platform that had just 13 employees a short ten months ago!
Instagram Adds 15-Second Video Sharing — June 2013
If you are an active user of Instagram, you might not even realize that there was once a time you could only upload images to the platform. But for their first few years of existence, there was no video to be seen in Instagram.
That changed in June 2013 when they rolled out the option to upload videos of up to 15 seconds in length. (Note: at the time of this writing, that’s the length limit of videos shared to TikTok — it will be interesting to see if they too “evolve.”)
Instagram Incorporates Ads — October 2013
Despite paying a billion dollars to acquire Instagram, Facebook held off on monetizing the platform via ads for a full year-and-a-half.
Presumably, there was a lot of work to do on the backend to enable their ads program to synchronize with Facebook’s pre-existing advertising platform.
While the initial ad rollout was limited to sponsored posts, it set the stage for Instagram becoming a product with an estimated standalone value of $100 billion.
Instagram Enables Direct Messaging — December 2013
Instagram is a primarily public platform, as opposed to Facebook which for individual users tends to default to content being shared only with friends.
So while you could tag your friends in posts and comment on their content, you were doing so for the world to see. But those were pretty much your only options.
That changed in December 2013 when Instagram rolled out Direct Messaging.
Now you could have private conversations with friends, without ever having to leave Instagram.
MILEstone: Instagram Hits 200 Million Monthly Active Users — March 2014
While the first 100 million users took 2.5 years to acquire, the next 100 million joined in on the fun in just 13 months.
By March 2014, Instagram had a bigger user-base than the population of Russia, Mexico or really any country in the world save for a few.
Those 15-second videos really made an impression!
Instagram Expands Video from 15 to 60 Seconds — March 2016
If 15 seconds of video is good, 60 seconds of video must be better, right?!
As of March of 2016, you could start uploading videos to Instagram that were up to 60 seconds in length.
Still not long enough to play the full version of that new song you just wrote, but at least now you can get through the whole refrain!
MILESTONE: Instagram Hits 500 Million Monthly Active Users — June 2016
Instagram just keeps on growing. By June of 2016 they had 500 million monthly active users. Which, just to stay on theme, made their “population” bigger than any country in the world except for China or India.
Instagram Introduces Stories! — August 2016
There’s an old adage in the social media world: when a platform becomes popular, Facebook will aim to own it or clone it.
While they managed to buy Instagram and WhatsApp (as well as a slew of other companies that aren’t quite household names), a couple of the big players eluded them.
They desperately wanted Twitter. But Twitter wouldn’t sell. So in short order, Facebook introduced hashtags, verified accounts, trending content (now defunct) and a bunch of other features that were all “inspired” by Twitter. (Ie: they couldn't own it, so they went to work trying to clone it.)
But Facebook’s appetite to consume Twitter was nothing compared to the newer kid on the block, Snapchat.
Snapchat, launched in 2011, was immediately popular with the youth, a demographic that Zuck knew he needed to keep satisfied and clicking if he wanted to remain at the head of the social media table.
In 2013, just two-years after launch, he offered $3 billion to buy them out. They refused. Facebook reportedly tried again shortly before Snap went public. He was again rebuffed.
That second attempt happened in 2016. Coincidently, that’s the same year that all the primary platforms in the Facebook universe (that’s Facebook itself, Messenger, WhatsApp and of course Instagram) rolled out Stories.
Stories are ephemeral content (they disappear after 24 hours) that are intended to be less perfectly quaffed, more fun and allow a user to post as often as they want throughout the day without worrying about bothering the almighty algorithm.
While Snapchat is still doing its thing, there’s no doubt that the rollout of Stories slowed their growth considerably.
Milestone: Instagram Stories Hits 100 Million Daily Active Users — October 2016
Instagram Stories were popular almost immediately. They rolled out in August 2016 and by October of that year they already had 100 million daily active users. That’s 100 million people who were using Stories. Every. Single. Day!
Instagram Stories Launches Boomerang — November 2016
At first, Instagram Stories only allowed users to share pictures or short videos taken in real time. Then they expand that to allow you to share pictures and videos you had shot within the last 24 hours. That limitation quickly went away as well, as Instagram enabled the ability for users to share anything on their phone roll (well any photo or any video up to 15 seconds in length).
But Stories also quickly started rolling out fun filters and camera tricks (very similar to Snapchat, who had been providing such offerings for quite some time).
One early and popular such feature was Boomerang — which enables a user to take a short video which is then popped it back and forth, like a boomerang.
While they aren’t as popular today as they were when they first rolled out, you would have a hard time spending 10 or 15 minutes scrolling through IG Stories without coming across at least a couple such clips.
Instagram Enables Albums — February 2017
From 2010 until early 2017, you could only share one piece of content to your Instagram timeline at a time.
That changed in February 2017 when Instagram rolled out Albums. Albums made it possible to share up to ten pieces of content at once. (You can mix and match photos and videos in a single album.)
This made it easier to share bigger stories to the timeline without having to pump out a bunch of separate and disjointed posts.
Learn more about Albums, and how to use them, with this explainer piece I made when they first launched using... what else? An Instagram Album!
Milestone: Instagram Stories Hits 200 Million Daily Active Users — April 2017
Less than a year after being introduced, Instagram Stories had already hit 200 million daily active users.
Milestone: Instagram Hits 800 Million Monthly Active Users — September 2017
And just a few months after that, Instagram as a platform hit 800 million active users.
Instagram Gets Engaging With Their First Interactive Sticker — October 2017
Instagram has rolled out loads of fun features to Stories over the years, but it was in October 2017 that they rolled out their first interactive stickers with the introduction of the poll sticker.
You could use it to have people weigh in on a simple multiple choice question of your liking (simple because you were — and are — limited to only two answer choices). Once a user votes, they can see the breakdown of how everyone else has voted.
Like with all Stories, those containing polls still disappear after 24 hours. But it was the first of many stickers that Instagram Stories would offer intended to help bring your audience into the conversation.
Instagram Lets Us Keep Our Stories With Highlights — December 2017
It didn’t take long for Instagram to realize that people were putting a lot of time and effort into their Stories, and that while some should just go ahead and disappear after 24 hours, it would be nice if users could keep some of them around.
And with that was born Highlights. (I’ve always thought this feature would have been called Albums, if Instagram hadn’t already used that name on a product less deserving of it).
Highlights are very important — first of all, they let you keep select Stories public indefinitely.
But even more importantly, they let you flesh out your account’s profile page, which has always been quite limited.
For your Instagram profile, you get a pic, a short bio, a location and a link to a website (the only active link you can use on the entire platform!). Now suddenly, if you choose to use them, the next thing someone sees while looking at your profile, after your photo and brief bio, is your Highlights. So if used well, they can really do a lot to help you tell your story in a more in-depth and relevant way for your audience.
Let’s say you own a restaurant. You might have one Highlight for salads, another for entrees, a third for desserts and a fourth showcasing the awesome artisanal cocktails you create in house.
Or let’s say you run a boutique. You could have a Highlight for hats, another for skirts, one for accessories, and one for handbags.
Highlights are a great way to show your audience what you do in a way that simply isn’t possible through the limitations offered in the Instagram profile section.
Instagram Stories Get Active With GIFs — January 2018
I’m not gonna lie — I’m one of those people that’s reluctant to update the iOS on my phone for fear of messing with something that’s not broken.
I was probably a year behind the current iOS when Instagram Stories introduced GIF stickers (GIFs are short videos that play on repeat) and I was so anxious to get access to them, I updated my phone.
My phone was fine, but alas, it was months before the amazing GIF library found its way into my account. Why? That’s just the way it goes sometimes. Instagram and Facebook don’t typically rollout new features to everyone all at once.
But suffice to say, I eventually got them and two plus years on, the novelty has still not worn off. Not even a little bit! 😉
Instagram Stories Introduces Type Mode — February 2018
Instagram Stories was initially limited to sharing real-time photos or videos. But right from the beginning you could type or draw on top of them.
Well in February 2018, Instagram Stories rolled out Type Mode, enabling the option to share JUST text, without any associated media.
While it might not be the most engaging kind of content to share, there are certain times when all you need is text, and it’s nice to have the option.
Music Comes to Instragram Stories — June 2018
This one is controversial y’all.
In June 2018, Instagram Stories partnered with Spotify to enable the sharing of short clips of songs directly into a Story.
That part is is simple enough. But do a Twitter search for “why can’t I share music on Instagram?,” scroll through the endless steam of angry, frustrated or just plain sad users, and you’ll see where the controversy lies.
Because here’s the thing: only personal accounts can share music, not business accounts (more on that in a bit). But really, even that isn’t exactly true! Sometimes business accounts can share music, usually however they can’t. Or that’s my experience anyway.
Why? Because Instagram is a website and there are glitches. Sometimes things work, sometimes they don’t. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Instagram Stories Hits 400 Million Daily Active Users — June 2018
By June of 2018, Instagram Stories — less than two years after their rollout — had more daily users than there are people in the United States (or again, any other country on the planet save for India or China).
Not bad for a product that was initially designed simply to slow down a competitor!
Instagram Doubles Down on Video With IGTV — June 2018
Facebook has been extremely invested in video for quite some time. So it is no surprise that Instagram would find ways to allow users to share videos longer than one minute.
In June 2018 they rolled out IGTV, short for Instagram Television (yup) enabling users to share videos ranging from 61 seconds up to ten minutes. Some accounts could go as long as an hour, but in my experience, most are limited to ten minutes.
The IGTV rollout was extremely flawed from the outset and widespread use has been so limited that they actually rolled it off into a standalone app where it could sit quietly and not bother anyone.
You can still watch users IGTVs (two points to anyone who knows who to do so!), but mostly it serves as a tool to let people trying to upload longer videos to be able do so. Of course if you do so, people can watch the first minute of your video in their feed, but then they have to switch over to the IGTV version to continue.
The biggest mistake Instagram made with IGTV bar-none (in my opinion of course) was limiting IGTV search to only apply to the handle of the user who uploaded the piece, and not to the accompanying descriptive text.
I’m clearly a huge social media nerd — when a platform rolls out a new product or feature, I’m going to try it. When IGTV launched, I quickly headed to the search bar and searched for bluegrass (I’m a bluegrass musician and fan). What did I find: content from a bank in Kentucky… and not much else. Because the search term only applied to the name of the sharing accounts, despite the fact that just like with any other post, you could describe the video you were sharing with accompanying text. Hell, you could even use hashtags, but since they were unsearchable, they were completely worthless.
For example, lets say Del McCoury or Punch Brothers upload a video to IGTV, and introduce it as their "new bluegrass track," I still couldn’t find it by searching bluegrass, because their name doesn’t have bluegrass in it. They could even tag it as #bluegrass and still nothing! Pretty silly, don’t you think?!
Milestone: Instagram Hits 1 Billion Monthly Active Users — June 2018
Despite IGTV not giving them the bump they surely hoped for, less than eight years after launching, Instagram did what few have done before — they hit the billion active user mark.
Quite a feat for a company whose initial launch was just a knockoff of Foursquare!
Milestone: Instagram Stories Hits 500 Million Daily Active Users — January 2019
And not too long after that, Instagram Stories hit the 500 million daily active user mark. Expect this number to continue rising in the coming years.
While Instagram didn’t invent the concept of ephemeral content, they have certainly perfected it. This is one feature that I don’t think will be going away anytime soon.
The above list of product rollouts and milestones is far from exhaustive. Very far in fact!
Despite Instagram retaining its simplicity year after year, it is actually constantly changing.
If I wanted to make this post twice as long, I easily could have done so! But for your sake and mine, I’m not going to do that.
That said, here are a few highlights we didn’t cover, but that are worth noting.
February 2016: Since Instagram has always been a mobile-first platform, it has bothered people to no end that you couldn’t login to more than one account at a time. Back at the beginning, if you wanted to share content from more than one account, you had to logout of one and login to the other to do so. In 2016, they added the option to be logged into five accounts at once (but no more). This was a much appreciated feature for anyone who works in social media!
March 2016: Instagram switches its feed from chronological, where you see whatever was posted most recently by anyone you follow, to algorithmic, where Instagram determines what content you see and in what order, based on what they think you will like.
May 2016: Instagram introduced a business account, which looks and feels identical to a regular account but comes with a few extra tools, the most important being analytics!
July 2016: They began to enable the ability to better moderate comments on your threads.
January 2018: Instagram added an “Archive,” storing all of your Stories even after they have disappeared. They are only visible to you, unless you have them shared in a Highlight. But with the Archive, you can go back and add old Stories to Archives, even if they’ve already disappeared from your profile.
September 2018: Instagram’s founders, Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger, resigned from the company. Notice how closely this follows the rollout of IGTV. Wonder if they’re related? #JustSaying
October 2019: Instagram removed the “Following” activity tab, which let you see the activity of the people you were following, breaking the hearts of exes and creeps everywhere!
This post could go on and on. But we’ll stop here.
What have been your favorite features Instagram has rolled out over the years? Are there any you wish they would retire from the platform?
Have their been any changes that you think should have been on this list but weren’t? Share them in the comments or hit me up on social.
In case it’s not obvious, I never get tired of talking about this stuff!
I hope this post was as helpful for you to read as it was for me to write.
If you enjoyed it, connect with me on Instagram (@jlemonsk). I regularly share platform updates, tricks, tips, hacks and the like. As well as the occasional pictures of my kids and my cat. (You know, all the good stuff!).
See you there.
Instagram Stories just keep getting more popular. Over 500 million people now use them every... single... day!
And their functionality keeps growing as well.
In this episode of #StepUpYourSocial, we cover ten tips, tricks, hacks and strategies that you should be using to take your Instagram Story game to the next level.
We want to hear them!
Share them in the comments, hit us up on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn, or share them online them using the hashtag #StepUpYourSocial.
Full Episode Transcript
In episode 3, we did a “deep dive into instagram stories.” But stories keep on growing, both in their popularity and in their functionality. So today we’re going to cover some fun tricks and hacks to take your Instagram stories to the next level.
If you’re not already posting stories on a regular basis, head back to episode 3 and get caught up on what they are and why and how you should be using them.
And now let’s dig in!
1) Use the location sticker to say where you are. You can be super specific — I’m at the WI capitol. You can be a bit vague — I’m in Madison, WI. Or you can be super vague — I’m in WI.
There are 2 reasons to use location stickers: first, it helps people know where you are. And 2) and this is the important one, it could dramatically increase your story’s reach. There’s no surefire way to get one of your stories added to a public story — which will definitely increase your reach — but not tagging your location guarantees that you WON’T be added to the public location’s story.
And here’s something cool: Instagram is smart enough to know that the WI Capitol is in Madison and that Madison is in WI. So it’s possible you’ll wind up in the public stories for all 3 of those places. Which is the main reason why specific location tagging is better than general location tagging. But any location tagging is better than none!
Two more notes on this — one) not every story should be tagged by location. If you’re sharing a screenshot of one of your tweets, or posting a Game of Thrones meme that got you laughing, it’s okay to skip the location. And 2 — and this one’s a big one — you don’t actually have to be at a location to tag yourself there. Now of course I’m not telling you to lie to your audience. But if you took a bunch of pictures at an event last night and we’re too busy to share stories in real time, you can post them the next day, and tag the location after the fact. Just search for the location within the search bar, select it, and voila. You’re tagged.
You can then move that sticker around, make it bigger or smaller, or click it to get different color formatting to better fit the feel of your story.
2) There’s a location sticker. There’s also a hashtag sticker. Use it! Just like you might be added to a public location’s story, thus increasing your story’s reach, using a hashtag sets you up to potentially be added to a public hashtag’s story.
Now on a general Instagram post, you can use up to 30 hashtags. Stories won’t let you go that far, but it will allow you to use up to 10 hashtags. The more hashtags you use, the better chance you have of getting added to that public story.
Now it will only let you use the hashtag sticker once in a story. But if it makes sense for you to add more, just pop on over to your text and start typing our relevant hashtags.
IF you are going to do this — and of course you don’t have to go for 10 in every post, consider stacking and then hiding them, so that it doesn’t make your story look gaudy. To do that, create each hashtag as a new piece of text, meaning that instead of just hitting space between tags, you hit done after each one, and then start new text for tag number 2 and so on. Then you can stack them, literally put them all on top of each other. Which will look awful. But fear not, head back to your stickers and find yourself a sticker or a gif to stick on top. Then no one will see them except instagram… which is the only one who matters here!
3) There’s a location and a hashtag sticker. There’s also a mention sticker. This lets you tag someone in your picture, or any relevant public account you want. This one won’t help you get into any public stories, but it will give a public shoutout to the account you are tagging, and just as important, it will send a notification to that account that you have tagged them in a story.
As I always say — don’t talk about anyone on the internet if you wouldn’t want them to know. And talking about them without tagging them is like talking to them on the phone without first dialing their number. Without it, they might accidentally come your post, but a tag all but ensures they see it!
4) Another reason to tag someone is that when you do, they then get the option to share your story with their followers. So you give them a shoutout, and then they help you reach new audiences. win-win!
Along with hoping your community shares your posts, definitely consider sharing relevant and interesting stories that tag you. User generated content can be an amazing way to tell your brand’s story.
And, something cool about sharing other people’s stories — it’s more like a quote tweet than a retweet. Meaning you don’t just have to share their story as is. You essentially are sharing their story as a sticker, meaning you can add your own location, mention and hashtag stickers to it, gifs, text and more.
The ability to share stories changed the whole concept of instagram’s power of telling stories in real time. Take advantage of this tool, as makes sense for you and your brand.
5) If you haven’t explored the loads of fun stickers available to you, you are missing out! Along with the ones we’ve already covered, and gifs (which I love!), there are also some really cool engagement stickers built right into the platform.
You can solicit questions from your audience (which you can then answer in follow up stories), take polls, quiz your audience… there’s even a countdown clock available to you if you have an exciting event taking place and want to build some excitement.
6) Did you know that you can add any Instagram post, your own or anyone else’s, to your stories? To do so is extremely simple — at the bottom of the post, next to the heart and comment icons, there’s a little paper airplane. Click it and you’ll see the option to “add to story.” Click that and whatever you were looking at will appear as a sticker in your story. When I say “whatever you were looking at,” what I mean is that if it was an album, you can only add one image, and if it’s a video, you will only be adding a screenshot of the thumbnail associated with the video.
But once you have the image in your story, you can move it around, make it bigger or smaller and add all of the stickers, gifs and text you want. And if you click on the actual post, it will change the formatting from the clean image with a tag of who posted it, to an image that includes the handle and part of the post’s original text.
Here’s the coolest hack for this though — go to your gif library and search “tap here.” You’ll have loads of options — pick one you like. Add your tap here sticker to your story. When someone clicks it, they’ll get a seemingly magic option to visit the original post. Here’s the thing — they would get that option whether or not you point them to tap there. Most folks just don’t realize it. So the built-in call-to-action makes it super easy to drive people from your story to your original post (or anyone else’s). It a big part of why more and more accounts are creating stories from their posts. It’s a second audience you can engage around the same content, and you can potentially drive people back to the original. I don’t know that you should do this for every post, but maybe the one’s you are particularly excited about.
7) When I am building a new story that’s not based on a picture, I’ll sometimes just snap a photo while covering the camera. So I get a black background. Which works fine. But if you want a different color background, there’s actually a really easy way to create one.
Take a picture — of whatever’s in front of you — and then click the pen tool. Select the first pen, pick your color of choice on the bottom and then hold your finger down on the screen. The whole background will become that color.
If you want to add a transparent color over top of one of your pictures, you can do that too. Instead of selecting the first pen, select the second one, which looks more like a marker. Choose your color, hold down and you get a transparent overlay over top of your picture.
Want to get really clever with either of these — create your solid or transparent color over top of a picture, and then use the eraser to remove color from the selected areas. That can create a very cool effect!
8) If you have 10k followers, you can link a story to an external link. Which is a very powerful tool, but one that not a lot of users actually have access to.
So for those of you with less than 10,000 followers, you can’t link to an external source. But you do have one option for linking your story — you can link it to an IGTV video that you have posted previously.
IGTV, short for Instagram TV, allows you to post longer videos then you can post within Instagram proper. In Instagram, you are limited to one minute videos. But with IGTV, you can go up to 10 minutes, and some bigger accounts can even go up to an hour.
It can be a great way to repurpose videos that you created elsewhere but couldn’t post to Instagram because they were too long.
And once you have posted those longer videos, you can link directly to them through a story. To do so, simply click the link icon at the top of your story. You will then be able to select from any of your pre-published videos in IGTV. Then anyone seeing your story can swipe up and get to your IGTV video.
Consider searching through the gifs library for one that creates a call to action to swipe up to help your audience realize that your story is intended to take them somewhere.
9) Here’s a fun hack — while Instagram offers a handful of cool fonts, they don’t provide many options in terms of formatting your text. But want to create a drop shadow effect? Doing so is really easy! Create your text, ideally not changing the size at all (you can change color and placement, but if you change size you are going to struggle to get the drop shadow text to match perfectly). Once you have it exactly how you want it, create it again with a different color. Then place one of the texts on top of the other, but just slightly off, enough to create your own… wait for it… drop shadow.
Want to see an example of this in action. Head over to my Instagram account — I’m @jlemonsk — and then check out my story highlight titled IG updates. Whenever I create a story about a new Instagram feature, hack or strategy, I add it to that highlight. Scroll through and you’ll find one that shows this drop shadow hack in action.
10) I saved this next one for last because it is just so freaking awesome! Want to add a sticker, text or a gif to a video and have it follow along with the video, rather than just remaining static in one spot? Doing so is actually quite easy! Create a video story (either take a new video in the app, or add in a video that’s already on your phone). Then select the sticker or gif you want, or type in the text. Now, while the video is playing in the background, hold your finger down on the sticker or text.
You’ll then get a scrollbar at the bottom of the screen. That scrollbar will let you move through the video at your own speed. Get to a spot that works for you and then move and/or resize the sticker until you have it where you want it. Then hit pin. Assuming your video isn’t too complicated for Instagram to handle, it should paste your sticker or text onto that spot in the video and then let it follow along throughout the duration of the video.
So for example, instead of your train sticker just sitting in the top corner of your video, you can pin it to the front of the train and as the train moves through your video, your sticker will move through with it.
Pretty cool, right?
Your turn — what are some of your favorite strategies, tricks or hacks that you have been using to step up your Instagram story game? I want to hear about them. Hit me up on Instagram (again, I’m @jlemonsk), or on Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn where I’m Reverbal Communications. Or share it online using the hashtag #StepUpYourSocial.
And if you tag me in your stories, you better believe I’ll gonna share it! So hit me up!
Now what are you waiting for. Get out there and step up your story game!
"Stories" are the Facebook response to Snapchat — fun, quirky bits of content that disappear after 24 hours.
Throughout the Facebook Universe — WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook and Messenger, people are currently sharing over a billion stories every day!
Instagram Stories alone has over 400 million daily active users — more than twice as many as Snapchat.
Stories have all kinds of fun and interesting capabilities built directly into the platform.
In this episode of Step Up Your Social, we cover the what, the when and the how of Stories along with a bunch of tips, tricks and fun things you should try.
Listen today and let us know if you have any questions, or anything to add to the conversation around this fun topic!
That's right! I've started a podcast.
It's called Step Up Your Social and it's intended to provide quick, actionable tips to help you master your social media. I plan on making these all "flash episodes," around 10 minutes long or less.
That way you can hop in, learn something quick and get right back to work!
Have a topic you want to hear me cover? Drop it in the comments, tweet it at me, or use the hashtag #StepUpYourSocial.
In the inaugural episode, I discuss the difference between crossposting your comments and autoposting them.
One of those is good, the other is very, very bad.
Give a listen. And then get right back to telling your story!
I use Twitter and Instagram a lot. Like a lot!
Both of these platforms require precision with limited text. Sometimes it's easier for people to follow what you are trying to say by turning your short text into more than one paragraph.
For a long time, I didn't know how to do that natively (in the app). So when needed, I'd draft my tweet or Instagram post in notepad and then copy and paste it into the platform.
And that worked just fine.
But it's annoying.
Then one day, I noticed something that had been right there at my fingertips all this time. It's so obvious, I felt silly for not noticing it. I didn't want to tell people about it, because I assumed everyone else already knew. But I recently shared it on social and so many people let me know how excited they were. This little trick (if you can even call it that) solved a problem they had struggled with for years. Clearly it wasn't just me missing this little Twitter and Instagram hack.
So many people told me they found it helpful, I just had to throw it up on the blog.
So without any further ado, if you want to hit "Return" (or "Enter") when composing a tweet or an Instagram post, just hit the "123" button. (The same one you hit to get to your number keypad or your punctuation.) And the "Return" key will be right there waiting for you. That's it.
I always say that the only constant in social media is change. I don’t write to tell you every time any little thing changes on a social channel — if I did you’d hear from me literally dozens of times per week. But not every update is worthy of a blog post or an email.
Recently though, a few exciting updates have rolled out that are worth sharing.
You can now “follow” a hashtag on Instagram, just like you would follow an account.
Once you follow a hashtag, Instagram will include top posts using it directly into your feed.
To follow a hashtag, simply search for it on Instagram.
Then click “follow.”
Then you will start seeing relevant content showing up in your feed.
I'm very excited about this update, although it’s a bit hard to follow Twitter’s logic. They recently doubled the character length for tweets from 140-280, thus making threads, and therefore this update, much less relevant. But they're not irrelevant, so it’s still an exciting update.
If you aren’t familiar with the concept of threads, check out this blog post where I explain what they are and how they work (along with a bunch of other fun Twitter tricks and tips).
Before, when you created a tweet thread, you had to keep responding to previous tweets. Which is fine, but can be clunky. If you don't reply to the most recent tweet in your thread, they get out of order and your thread becomes hard to follow. It can take a few moments for your tweet to post, meaning you have to sit tight with your thoughts, waiting for it to catch up.
Now if you want to create a tweet thread, simply start typing your tweet. Below, next to the “tweet” button, you will see a plus. Click it and Twitter will open up another tweet for you. Keep going until you are finished and then you can send them all as a single unit.
BIG IMPROVEMENT, even if it's a little less relevant that it might have been a few months ago.
Facebook Stories aren’t new, but they have pretty much been getting ignored. Stories were Facebook’s response to Snapchat. They are small pieces of content — pictures, short videos or text — that disappear after 24 hours.
They have all the fun Snapchat-style filters built in, along with a lot of other fun tools. Spend a few minutes in there and you will find tons of fun toys. And they are updated regularly.
While Stories aren't new, what is new is that they are now available to Brand Pages. (Until recently, only personal pages could create Stories.)
To access Facebook Stories for a Brand Page, you can use the new Facebook Creator app. Or, open the Facebook app on your phone or tablet (currently, Stories only work via mobile), and go to your Brand Page. Underneath where you it lets you “write something,” click “create story.”
Once you have finished creating your tiny, disappearing masterpiece, add it to your Story.
Then anyone who likes your page will see it at the top of their Facebook page anytime they login for the next 24 hours. It’s a great way to get in front of your audience and to cut through the clutter of the newsfeed.
Quick note: you can also use Stories for Groups, and Events for which you have said you are attending. The Event feature in particular has the potential to be huge, in my opinion. Once people start using them, it will give everyone at a party, a concert, an event, etc. a way to create content and see what everyone around them is doing in real time. The engagement possibilities for that one are HUGE!
Those are the three social media updates I’m most excited about at the moment. Your turn — any to add?
Instagram finished 2016 with a billion monthly active users. 500 million of them are active on a daily basis. Five. Hundred. MILLION!
That’s 1/3 of ALL internet users.
And they are active. Everyday, users post an average of 95 million posts. And they like over 4 billion posts. (Yes, that’s billions with a “B”.)
Brands are a big part of the fun. And with good reason: according to Instagram’s Advertiser Statistics, HALF of all users follow at least one brand on the platform. Of those, “60% say that they learn about a product or service on the platform, while 75% take action, such as visiting a website, after looking at a post.”
So here's a simple question: Is your brand making the most of this platform?
Whether this is:
-the first you are hearing about this interesting-sounding platform,
-you have an account but you're not sure how to get started, or
-you use IG daily, but you just aren't sure you're getting everything you can out of it,
the time has come for you to Become an Instagram Champion!
We’ll cover topics like:
Trainings for you and your team can be conducted on-site or remotely.
I’ve worked with local, statewide and national political campaigns, nonprofits, small businesses, bands, artists, authors and journalists and more who wanted to better tell their digital story. Ready to tell yours?
I also train people to become Facebook Ninjas, Super Twitterers and more.
Learn more about how we might work together.
What People Have Said About Working With Me
"Josh is a social media maven who wants to help others improve. I have benefited from Josh’s expertise firsthand, and as a result feel more confident using social media to empower more good in the community. Josh is an effective and patient teacher, responsive, thoughtful and practical."
-Renee Moe, President & CEO, United Way of Dane County
"Josh is a wizard. We just had a three hour training with him and feel like we have more than a clue how to promote our band and stay in touch with music lovers everywhere."
-Sims Delaney-Potthoff, Mandolinist and Bandleader, Harmonious Wail
Received a few hours of consulting from [Josh] today. Best money I've spent in a long, long time.
-Philip Crawford, Manifestly and Political Strategist
"My staff and I attended your training... and were absolutely blown away by the presentation and quality of content. To say we took away a ton is a vast understatement! I don't think I've ever been in a training more engaging and insightful, PLUS my team is beaming with motivation and excitement to hit the ground running!
Massive THANK YOU, Josh, for your wisdom and expert advice on how to use social media to grow Jenerate Wellness. You're top-notch!"
-Jen Rudis, Jenerate Wellness
The wait is over! It’s now officially as easy to switch between Instagram accounts on your mobile device as it is to switch between Twitter accounts.
For those of you who run only a single account, this won’t change your interaction with the platform. But if you have a personal account, and you also run one for your business, non-profit, band, microbrewery or anything else, this is the time to get excited.
Until now, you had to log out of one account and login to another to switch back and forth. Tracking down passwords and taking the extra time to move around pretty much guaranteed that whatever account was your primary, stayed your primary.
Instagram heard our frustration and they have—finally!—acquiesced. Switching between accounts is now easy.
Open up the app. In the top right corner, you will see a gear. Click it.
Scroll down to the bottom of the list and click on “Add Account.”
Login with your second account.
Now, you can simple toggle between the accounts. Go to your homepage (bottom right icon showing your avatar). At the top of that page, you will see your username, followed by a ٧.
Click it and you will see a list of all accounts you are logged into. You can now toggle back and forth to your heart’s desire. That's it--now enjoy!
Quick note: You can repeat this process with numerous accounts.
There are countless tools and sites out there to help optimize your social media presence. I want to share one that offers a great solution to a very common problem.
How often have you logged onto Twitter and seen people in your feed posting links to their Instagram pics? Probably pretty often. And how often have you actually clicked through to see those pictures? Probably a lot less often, right?
Fair enough. Who wants to click a link to see if the content is worth exploring?
Wouldn’t it be nice if, without any extra work, you could post your actual Instagram pictures (as opposed to links to those awesome pictures) directly to Twitter, just like you can post them directly to Facebook? You can! And it’s easy. Let me explain.
Why post to Instagram at all?
You could post your pictures directly to Twitter, skipping over Instagram outright. But Instagram has amazing filters and very engaged audiences. The goal isn’t to minimize networks—rather it’s to minimize the amount of work it takes you to positively engage with multiple networks.
Instagram is owned by Facebook, posting there directly is as easy as hitting share. But when you try to cross-post to Twitter, they only tweet out a link. They are seeking to drive your followers away from Twitter and to Instagram. Which might be good for them. But it’s not good for you.
It’s simple. Set up an account with “If This, Then That.” (www.IFTTT.com) Once you have an account, you can set up all kinds of cool tools (they call them recipes).
Clearly, there’s plenty you can do with this site. But to solve this particular problem: sign up, set up a recipe so that IF you post a picture to Instagram, THEN it will share it to Twitter. You can search around in their “Recommended Recipes” or just follow this link.
Give IFTTT access to both your Instagram and Twitter accounts and confirm the recipe. Then anytime you post a picture to Instagram, it will automatically tweet out the same picture to your Twitter network. With no additional work, you will reach twice as many networks! (3x if you are already sharing directly from Instagram to Facebook.)
Now instead of your feed looking like this:
It will look like this:
Which do you think are going to get higher engagement rates?
Let me know if you need help setting up your recipes. Happy sharing!
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