What JFK Can Teach Us About New Changes Coming to Instagram

There was a quote from President John F. Kennedy that used to hang in my high school’s main office. It read:

“Change is the law of life. And those who look only to the past or present are certain to miss the future.”

Screen Shot 2015-03-04 at 10.13.15 PM

I barely remember how to conjugate a verb in Spanish. Most of the Periodic Table is a blurry mess. And forget algebra. (Die factoring, die!) But that JFK quote has always stuck with me.

Maybe it’s one of the reasons why I love social media so much. It is constantly changing.

The latest news from Instagram is a perfect example. The company recently announced on its business blog it will soon allow live links in posts as part of a multi-image advertising format.

This is a complete first for the platform and a total game changer for what has mostly been a relatively ad-free platform. (With the exception of some select sponsored content which started back in 2013.)

I always saw Instagram as one of the few purists left in social. Without clickable URLs in posts, users don’t have the option to follow links to outside websites. Instead, they scroll through the stream of photos and videos without distractions.

I believe it forces marketers to be better storytellers. We must creatively market our brands without the crutch of dated and mindless “click here for more” calls to action. It helps drive engaging (and often beautiful) content on the mostly photocentric platform.

Marketers try getting around this by using photo captions or comments to direct people to the account profile where Instagram allows one clickable link. Some marketers change this link out regularly according to what they’re pushing in their posts. But this can often come across as spammy or overly complicated.

Now an alternative. Instagram calls its new ad option “carousel ads” — and they are sure to be a merry-go-round of fun for marketers. The company describes them this way:

“One way to look at it is carousel ads bring the potential of multi-page print campaigns to mobile phones – with the added benefit of taking people to a website to learn more. For instance, a fashion company could use the carousel to deconstruct the individual products in a ‘look.’ A car company might share an array of different features of a vehicle and provide a link to learn more about the new model. Or, an advertiser could showcase how multiple ingredients come together to make a delicious meal.”

Instagram notes it will be introducing this format on a limited basis — so don’t expect it to be available to everyone right away. Just let my high school lesson be a reminder that additional changes are guaranteed. A more advertising-driven Instagram is coming. And if we start planning now — it won’t be nearly as scary as algebra class.

Opinions are my own. They do not necessarily reflect those of my employers past or present.

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