The days when Instagram was just a photo-sharing application are long gone. Over the past few years it’s grown vigorously, transforming into a modern, convenient platform for sharing experiences and building a community around personal and business brands alike.

Continuous development, introduction of new business-oriented features and enormously big audience made Instagram the favorite marketers’ social media platform. Each year Instagram brings new ways to for brands to increase account following and engage customers, 2019 is no exception.

What marketing-relevant changes does Instagram have in store for us this time? Without further ado, let’s jump right into it!

In-app Shopping

Shoppable Instagram posts were promised in 2017 and introduced in 2018 to a limited number of companies and countries. Availability to tag products on posts and to buy them directly from the app, is expected to expand for more regions and consequently gain more popularity among the platform users in 2019. Check whether your country is already on the approved list and if so, proceed to set up product tagging for your Instagram account.

Instagram shopping-approved businesses can tag up to 5 products per single image/video post and up to 20 products per multi-image post. Business accounts are allowed to tag products on both new and old publications, but note that user accounts and products cannot be tagged simultaneously.

Instagram Stories became a big thing ever since its initial launch and only grow in popularity and value. No doubt, Stories wouldn’t have half the appeal had Instagram not implement new fun ways to use them. In addition to engaging audience with Polls, GIFs, and Stickers, businesses can now add product stickers to give more information about displayed items and initiate direct purchase, without leaving the app.

Instagram is expected to become more e-commerce and marketing-friendly in 2019, even more so if a new standalone shopping application is released.

Mirco-influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is known as one of the most effective ways to reach target audience for brands on social media, and now it’s already an ever-growing billion dollar industry.

As much as 92% of consumers trust individuals more than brands, so it’s no surprise that likable and reputable bloggers took over the most popular social media platforms.

Influencers with big following and celebrities like Kylie Jenner can earn from $10,000 to $1 million per Instagram post. One can imagine the exposure influencers with 500K+ followers can get for a brand. However, a collaboration with a popular blogger doesn’t necessarily equal success. Not only there are plenty of influencers with fake following, organically gained hundreds of thousands of Instagram fans are much harder to engage as a whole. People tend to lose interest in active interaction with a celebrity — as soon as an influencer’s account gets over 100K, the engagement rate flats out.

This information makes you question the real value of a multi-million following, especially in comparison with smaller, but much more active audience of micro-influencers. Being perceived rather as a friend that some distant high-profile persona, micro-influencers gain more trust and able to engage up to 8.7 percent of their following, against only 1.7 percent Instagram celebrities bring.

Working with micro-influencers is profitable for businesses, hence the affordable price and efficiency. We will definitely see more and more brands working with smaller bloggers as 2019 goes. If you are considering this option for your business (you totally should!), make sure the micro-influencer of your choice is credible before

Direct Messages Rise

Instagram Direct Messages improved drastically in 2018. It’s become easier than ever to start a conversation with someone by reacting to their Stories, expressing emotions through GIFs and other media, starting one-on-one or group video chat with friends/family… and leaving the awkward convo politely😂

These changes turned boring DMs into a messenger inside the world’s favorite image-sharing platform. It was just recently announced that Facebook is working on turning its Messenger into a three-in-one app for cross-messaging between Facebook, WhatsApp and Instagram.

Since Instagram becomes increasingly more business-friendly each year, the messaging app hopefully will have options for easier communication with customers, too. Introduction of such features as bulk messaging, auto-replies, reply templates creation, ̶o̶r̶ ̶a̶t̶ ̶l̶e̶a̶s̶t̶ AND ability to handle messages from desktop would save a great deal of time for Instagram marketers.

There were, unfortunately, no promises of such functionality from Instagram, but fret not if it’s not realized in 2019! Combin is adding DMs and comments feed this year for certain, as well as post scheduling and many other Instagram marketing essential features the platform itself, sadly, holds off on.

Keep your eyes peeled for new stuff to come! Don’t miss important digital marketing news and Combin updates — follow us on Twitter and Reddit.