On the 12th day of Christmas, Instagram gave to me a reason to get excited for 2016! The past year has been incredibly exciting at Instagram as they continue to grow and develop. We’ll break down three gifts that Instagram gave to us this year:


Get Emojional – Emoji Hashtags


Instagram announced in Spring of 2015 that emojis would become hashtag-able. This meant that the little pictographs that we’d come to adore and rely on entered another level of functionality. For years users have been using emojis to convey a themes, emotions, and actions, but they’ve primarily been a static player in the social game. With the use of emoji hashtags, they’ve evolved into yet another way that Instagram users to discover and interact with each other. Here are some examples from some of our more recent festive posts:


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If you’re going to utilize emoji hashtags in your posts, I would recommend using a singular emoji rather than a combination. This will give your posts more reach for potential discovery and engagement. Since launching in April, individual emojis were hashtagged 6.4 million times in two months. Leading the charge? The heart emoji with a whopping 575, 381 uses. Instagram is clearly about that emoji love.


Get Marketing – Instagram Ads


Revolutionary change was made when it was announced that Instagram ads would be made widely available, not only to large businesses, but to businesses of any size. What makes Instagram ads so great is that you don’t actually have to have an Instagram account, just a simple Facebook business page.

Instagram ads are thankfully, just as versatile as Facebook ads, and can be created for a multitude of reasons. You can promote your website, a particular product, and even run a contest. For example, once Instagram ads were made available the team at seoplus+ decided to run their first ever Instagram ad. The ad graphic promoted the contest and prompted viewers to follow seoplus+ on Instagram and like the contest image (as seen below).

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If you would like to get started with Instagram ads, you can do so within Facebook Ads Manager or Power Editor. From there, you will be given the option of where you would like your ad to be displayed, just make sure that you have Instagram option selected.

Find out how your business can grow with Instagram.


Getting Appy – Thinking Inside The Box


When Insta was still the new kid on the block, it did one thing, and it did that one thing very well: social photo sharing. This heralded the rise of many third-party apps that swooped in to augment user experience. We saw oodles of photo editing apps, apps that added white rectangles to allow users to maintain their entire image while still adhering to Insta’s strict square frame, and collage-making apps. All jumping to fill a perceived gap in the Instagram user experience.


This year we’ve seen the exciting move from Instagram to bring many of these features in-house. Instagram added a variety of sliders so that posters had more control beyond applying filters. Adjusting contrast, saturation, brightness, and more are now within the user’s grasp without having to use another app (Photoshop Express, anyone?).


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They also created Layout as an answer to the demand for photo collaging and mirroring, and a video-looping app, Boomerang. Only just launched in October, Boomerang is already captivating marketers with it’s 1-second videos (you can read more about this on our Social IS Mobile blog).


These developments indicate a very strong trend of Instagram asserting themselves as a one-stop-shop for social photo and video sharing for both personal use and marketers, and we’ll likely continue to hear about more moves to improve internal features. And you know we’re keeping an eye on their beta testing for switching between multiple accounts with ease! We cannot wait to see what else Insta has up their sleeves for the new year.

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