AdStand: When Instagram Changed

Earlier this month Instagram changed. Not just logo, the whole platform changed radically. They changed the logo, they changed the UI and they changed the feed mechanism. Four hundred million users worldwide went into frenzy when Instagram dumped its old retro Polaroid style camera icon to move to a rainbow graded flat stylized camera icon. The change of logo didn’t go well with most loyal users and the entire online world seemed to give the move a thumbs-down.

When Instagram came on board, it was a place for taking pictures, applying filters, adding a few hashtags and sharing them through Facebook or Twitter. Today all that has changed with Instagram becoming a very powerful social media network and a part of the Facebook empire. Instagram is no longer a place for just pictures, where you can apply filters and make them look different; it now supports videos, gifs and is a very different network from its beginning as an app.

The second change is the change in UI. Instagram is now all black and white in its experience. This I presume is for the content to stand out better.


Instagram is now a storytelling medium

But the most significant change is neither the UI nor the logo, but a new custom algorithm that Instagram has introduced. Till now, if a user, especially an influencer with a large following, posted a picture, it went to all their followers. This has now changed. The content is now not organically seeded to everyone, but to a select audience and that is decided by custom algorithm of Insta. This is one change that will make Instagram feel more like Facebook in coming days.

Instagram is no longer a small picture clicking, selfie driven app. Neither is it a network where the users post pictures of food before they devour the dish. Instagram is now a serious marketing channel where brands have been using the platform to create engagement. National Geographic was among the early adopters to drive traction; this has now led to many markers using Instagram in many interesting ways. Here’s a look at what brands are doing differently

Not just pictures, but a magazine

Ballantine Whisky used the Grid of instagram to launch a magazine, which they call an ‘instazine’ named @w_issueone. When users click on any of the tiles, the tile expands into a larger story. The first issue has three stories on mixology, on bitter drinks and on women and whisky.

Using the tiles to create a story has been done in an even more stunning way by Toronto Silent Movie Festival, where the tiles are used as clues to a treasure hunt. The campaign is a series of videos which play best with your phone turned sideways.

While it is good to use the tiles and art direct them to tell a story, most of us do not consume the content in tiles but as feeds, and therein lies the issue with campaigns like these. Sometimes we may completely miss the connection.

There are magazines that live on Instagram (and Snapchat). Log into Instagram and look for Arsenic Magazine. At a million plus followers it is a user generated magazine. As they say, “it’s your magazine, we just help you run it”. With beauty and body generating insane amount of conversation on social media, Arsenic is a social media movement where women of any shape, size, skin color or location are submitting their own photos and videos for free just because they want to be part of it. The entire content is user generated and as the magazine says, it’s not paid for. At a million followers, the magazine outscores Maxim and Esquire combined. Is this the future of magazines in some form?

Instagram’s own feed is visual awesomeness

Unlike most platforms, Instagram has its own-curated feed that is served to all on the platform. Some of the most breathtaking pictures across a variety of subjects posted here generate constant interaction. It’s not unusual to see a picture with 200,000 likes. These pictures are chosen on themes, reflecting the world around us.

Personal creativity is driving brands on Instagram

Yes, there is Calvin Klein with its racy pictures that are going viral on Insta, and brands have used Insta in more ways than just racy adverts. Starbucks lets its patrons doodle on the glass and post them on its feed. Ikea created its whole catalogue on Insta. Mercedes launched the GLA using the power of photographers. Land Rover takes people inside national parks.

Instagram’s logo change may not have met everybody’s approval, but as a social marketing tool, its journey has just begun.



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