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Instagram has been the recipient of some major criticism lately. With the algorithm pissing off 99% of us and bots becoming widely used (I've written about bots here), there hasn't been a day over the past few months where Instagram hasn't been trashed within a 10-second scroll of my Twitter feed. With all this change it's sometimes easy to miss new features, or pointers on how that oh-so-mysterious algorithm actually works. Features can also be rolled out gradually across accounts, rather than in one hauuuge app update, so we won't all see them immediately, but we might hear about them (still very jealous of those with the linking within Stories feature!) And, of course, the full workings of the algorithm is a big ol' secret.

So, let's talk Instagram fingz I've discovered over the past couple of weeks....

From Instagram Stories through to feed-theories, have a red of the below and feel free to share more Insta discoveries within the comments! And I guess this is an opportune moment for some Instagram self-promotion 🙃 you can follow me here @RobynMayday.

1) Use ANY colour on text and brushes on Stories!

Did you know that rather than using pre-selected colours for text or brushes, you can actually use any colour you want?! This was a complete revelation to me this week.

To do this, simply hold down on any colour in the palette shown whilst on the brush or text tool. You'll get a full colour selector appear. When this pops up, don't let go! Just move your finger round to select a shade. Let go once you're happy, et voila - you can now use that colour!

One thing worth noting you're hoping to re-use the exact same colour in another post to your Story: the colour won't save, so it's not easily re-useable. This is a tad annoying if you're a bit of a perfectionist like me. But it's still a nice feature.

Striped Blazer, and Striped Shorts H&M - Spliced Top, boohoo - Red Clogs, Ouigal* - Bag, H&M - Necklace, ASOS

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2) Getting a coloured background on your Stories

I'd seen a couple of people do this and couldn't work out how to do it myself. After a bit of a hunt on Google, turns out it's simple!

Take a photo (literally of anything). Then, once you've tapped the brush tool and chosen the colour you want to fill the image with, hold your finger down on the image. After a few seconds, the screen should be filled with your chosen colour.

I've used this a couple of times to navigate to my account, promoting my latest posts. Before now, I'd do a screenshot of my profile, obscuring the most recent image (as lots of us do!). But this background fill tool is a bit of a different way to create a call to action / teaser for followers to head over to your account, or to check out a link in your bio.

Especially if you don't have the link tool in your Stories... I'm not sour about that or anything... ya'know ...


3) Is the algorithm 'savvier' than we think?

We've all heard that the Instagram feed is supposedly based on those we interact with the most. But there are way more snazzy things going it apparently.

I've read on the grapevine (...or the web...) that Instagram might be using photo recognition technology to inform your feed. From this, they could categorise your posts and those you like (aided by hashtags, or perhaps without). This could then mean you see more of the genre of content you're engaging with on your feed.

I've also read that this kind of image technology could pick up other preferences. Maybe the types of images you prefer (flat-lays, portraits, outfit shots), in turn, making these pop up more frequently on your feed.

And here's another kinda interesting (likely) factor to ranking on the feed: the amount of time someone spends looking on a single post - otherwise known as 'dwell time'.

Essentially, the longer someone spends looking at your post, the better. An unsurprising factor to affect your visibility on your followers' feeds. It's a big factor in indicating engagement on web pages. But it's something you may never have realised is probably being tracked.

A long caption could help to increase dwell time. But generally, I'd say this would really be driven by quality of the overall post: caption and image. An image that makes your followers stop and look and go 'WOW'. Along with some copy that will engage people who chose to read it.

If you're interested in this stuff, there are plenty of theories (some of which are actually relatively well informed) available through a quick google search.

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4) The 'Saved' and 'Collections' feature

A tool most of us are probably already aware of - the 'Saved' feature.  There's a 'Collections' aspect to this, and it's SO perfect for documenting inspiration or ideas. I think this may change how I document outfit or photo ideas now! You can read more about how I do that right now in this post.

After you've 'saved' posts, you can head to the Saved page on your profile. Here, you can toggle between 'All' and 'Collections'. With Collections you can basically create boards. 

It's very similar to Pinterest, like a private board I guess. But it's amazing to have this within Instagram, because Insta posts aren't easy to save to Pinterest! Actually, I've just started 'Photo ideas' and 'Style ideas' collections to document inspiring posts within Collections.

Annnd that's it! A few Insta bits I've come across recently that I'm hoping were worth a read. Let me know if you did actually learn something from this post! And if you've got anything you want to share too, please do pop it into the comments section below.

Happy Instagram-ing! Come follow me over here 👉 @RobynMayday.

And please, don't take the Insta-beast too seriously. Just have fun! 🙃

Robyn Roxurgh

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