Tuesday, Instagram users saw an update appear in their app store. The first part of the update now shows users trending topics, tags and places that is continually updated, allowing us to look at events and pictures in real-time that are happening nearby. If you are looking for a more worldly view, you can also select various locations around the word, rather than only viewing local content.
Coincidentally (not terribly), this update has come just days after Twitter announced Project Lightning – an update coming this Fall, where users will see even more timely events as they are happening. While I don’t think Instagram will ever rival Twitter for its ability to break news as it happens, this certainly gets my attention as a play to begin to compete. The problem as I see it is that Instagram isn’t updated as often or as quickly by users as Twitter is. That’s why the hashtag “#latergram” is so popular on Instagram. I believe more people tend to upload photos hours or days after a photo was taken. I know this is true for me. If I’ve got something I find exciting to share with my community, I will first go to Twitter with it, over Instagram, knowing that I can post a photo at any time to the latter’s platform.
The second part of the update now includes curated content. This content currently is chosen by the Instagram team (as opposed to each user) and offers a rotating choice of topics such as “NBA Rising Stars,” “Trending Places,” “Extreme Athletes” and “Towering Rocks.” It remains to be seen if a time will come that we will be able to choose our own topics, which personally seems like it would be more beneficial. I’m an NFL fan, I’d much rather see “NFL Rising Stars,” I don’t much mind missing out on NBA rising stars. Call me when Michael Jordan’s records are being obliterated!
For local marketing initiatives, the trending places will be helpful. Once you click on “Trending Places,” you are taken to another screen with both cities and venues. You can choose to see more of what is happening near your physical location, or satisfy your sense of wanderlust and explore exotic locations you might not otherwise have access to.
What I find most interesting is that Instagram still does not allow users to seamlessly toggle between accounts. As someone that manages the social media for multiple clients, this is a feature that I NEED. We know that the technology allows for this – Twitter has always allowed you to easily switch between accounts without having to log in and out and remember even more passwords. Even more interesting is that with all the people tweeting and mentioning and bemoaning the inability to do this on Instagram, there has been no response from the company. I would be pacified with even a simple “We hear you,” or “Here is why we don’t currently have that feature” response. Social media stats come out daily about how many people expect quicker responses when tweeting to brands nowadays, and to have a company as largely used as Instagram not address our concerns and opinions is surprising to me.
What do YOU think? How will you use the new Instagram explore tab? Will you begin to look to Instagram for another source of breaking news?