Overview of the feature
Instagram recently added a new feature that many would not have expected to see when the app first launched. Instagram was all about your singular photos and the hipster filter you applied to it. Now though, Instagram has added the ability to post multiple pictures as one post. This means that when you see one of these photo albums in your feed, you can scroll left on a photo to see the rest of the content. These albums can contain up to 10 photos or videos per post. Though they may not seem like anything new for marketers, who will have seen this ‘carousel’ option available in the Instagram adverts options, it does suggest a big change for the platform and engagement numbers.
What it could mean for your brand
The introduction of Instagram albums instantly brings the channel into contention with the other most popular photo sharing social apps out there, and helps them to ensure that they will stay on top of the competition; most notably, it competes with Pinterest and their boards functionality. Let’s not forget that Facebook owns Instagram and the addition of this feature clearly competes with Facebook’s albums. The addition of this feature also means there are more options for advertising, with the possibility of allowing advertisers to place an advert at the end of a user’s album. Carousel ads are already an option for advertisers but this could be a way for marketers to ingrain themselves deeper into users’ feeds. Also, the album feature will work in influencers’ favour, especially when working with brands; they’ll be able to make more impact with an album post about a product they are promoting and without blocking up their feed with promoted posts.
Another thing to consider is the other recent Instagram update, the algorithmic feed, which means that your feed is based on things you like most, and popular updates rather than a chronological feed. So previously if you had a group of updates around the same topic, they would all appear in one go in someone’s feed, but now with the algorithm they would be dotted about all over the place. The album feature fixes this by allowing you to put a whole album together, so it will appear cleaner in people’s feed, and probably appear less annoying when a stream of photos from a night out fills up a feed.
The album feature also allows for more creative content ideas from brands and businesses, allowing the story they’re trying to tell to come across in several images and reducing the worry about having to fit all information into one image.
Strong examples from brands
Here are a few examples so far from brands that have used the feature innovatively and beautifully.
National Geographic used albums here to show the moments where a group of male lions met in the middle of a road. It’s a moment which could be seen in a video but the separation into photo moments adds greater impact as it invites viewers to use their imagination.
How do you say hello in lion? (swipe??left) With a slap to the face and a bite to the butt! Shot on assignment while driving through Kruger National Park for @natgeotravel. Follow @kengeiger for more images from #krugernationalpark #southafrica #lion
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NYX cosmetics used the album feature to put two items together, a shot of their brush collection along with a short video demo of their make-up brush cleaning product.
Show off those blending skills with our NEW Artistry Brushes!????These synthetic brushes feature ergonomic handles for your comfort! ???? And guess what!? @peta is giving away the entire collection! ???? Go check it out! ???? We love being #crueltyfree! ???????? P.S. SWIPE to watch a video of our awesome NEW On The Spot Brush Cleansing Pad in action! || #nyxcosmetics #nyxprofessionalmakeup
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Joel Sartore, who also works as a photographer for National Geographic, used the album feature to showcase a cute armadillo unrolling. Again, it adds more impact than a simple video, and tells a fuller story than a single image would have.
Vans used the feature creatively with six videos of people walking wearing Vans footwear, it uses the feature nicely without over promoting.
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How you can use them to boost engagement
For businesses, there are many ways you could use the feature such as a carousel of team member so users can get to know them. Also, uploading a series of images from an office event or an interesting day in or out of the office would be effective. If you are a product based business, you can showcase different product collections (or even demos as videos) or share any behind the scenes clips from your business.
You could use albums as competition mechanics on Instagram. For example, you could run a before and after competition with fans (if you were a make-up or beauty brand) and ask users to upload a before and after album and to use a set hashtag so you could gather entries. Another idea is to reveal more and more info or clues for a competition across several days, so users gather clues from albums and either make up a complete image or come up with an answer to be in with a chance of winning a prize.
Some think the ability to add more images will take away from the polished surface that Instagram has, but we think that it increases the chances for creativity and we’re looking forward to seeing more and more brands using this feature in innovative ways.