These days, Facebook is probably the social media platform with the most robust comments section — and people are taking full, sometimes painful advantage. But the comments sections on other social channels, particularly Instagram, feel much more barren. Sure, users are tagging their friends to show them a photo or video, but Instagram is hoping to get more actual commentary and conversations started — and limit trolling.
So Instagram has given its comments an entirely new look (and functionality), adding the ability for users to:
- Erase unwanted or negative comments from their feeds
- Disable comments altogether
- Silently remove people from their followers list (as opposed to just blocking them)
- Reply to specific comments
- “Like” specific comments
- Remove followers from private accounts
- Anonymous reporting for self-injury posts
The big idea is to reduce cyber-bullying and abusive commenting while also promoting much more meaningful conversations.
“These updates still mark the beginning,” said Instagram Co-Founder & CEO Kevin Systrom in a blog post. “We will continue to work to maintain Instagram as a welcoming and safe place for everyone.”
But the Insta-additions haven’t stopped at the comments. Instagram stories (for verified accounts) are now able to include links to other sites — a huge marketing advantage. Users swipe up on a small arrow at the bottom of the screen to follow the link. Getting users to perform that task requires a little explaining since the feature is so new, but once they get it, the clicks start flowing in.
Just ask Jay Rockman, director of marketing and business development at anonymous social platform Whisper. He said their site saw more than 150,000 visits as a result of links within Instagram Stories, according to Marketing Land. In fact, Marketing Land surveyed a handful of brands and publishers using the feature, finding that 15% to 25% of users converted on Instagram Stories links.
Instagram also rolled out its new Instagram Live feature over the past few days, giving users a chance to record live video. However, Instagram users can only “join” the live session and watch the recording while it’s happening — the video does not remain as a saved post like on Facebook.
What does it all mean?
- Expect celebrities and large Instagram influencers to be really happy — and trolls to be sad. TechCrunch says comment disabling “limits abusers’ ability to take advantage of someone else’s larger platform to give their dissenting and bullying statements an equally loud voice. Similarly, on Instagram, those whose posts are attracting outsize attention run into situations where the conversation turns sour. In the case of celebrities, they sometimes choose to shut off their Instagram account entirely to deal with the fallout. Comment disabling gives them another option.”
- Expect micro-influencers to be really happy too. Micro-influencers are known to have a deeper connections and more in-depth conversations with their audiences than other users. By adding the ability to like and reply to specific comments, micro-influencers will be able to engage with their audience even more.
- Expect people to check Instagram even more compulsively than they already do. Instagram’s live stories can only be viewed while the person is broadcasting and disappear afterward — so expect users to be checking for live updates all day long.
Instagram is ground zero for influencer marketing, but lots of questions remain. Check out our free guide How to Win Fans & Influencer Purchases to learn how much it costs, how to measure ROI and why micro-influencer marketing is the future.