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Instagram.

Between last week’s announcement that Facebook’s Q1 earnings made a jump thanks largely to Instagram, Beyonce posting her first ever Instagram story, and Taylor Swift debuting an Instagram filter to tease her new album, it just feels timely to send our first ever newsletter—The Short Story—debuting with social media’s most photogenic platform.  Each month we will send you five things you need to know about one trending topic. So let’s dive in, #nofilter.

1.  Instagram is Facebook’s sugar daddy.  

At least that’s what Reuters is calling it, following the release of Facebook’s strong first quarter revenue reporting of 15.1 billion up 26 percent from last year.  Instagram, owned by Facebook since 2012, recently added an in-app checkout button for certain brands that gives Instagram a cut of sales, plus Insta stories are big money makers as they continue to attract advertisers.  Analysts believe 50 percent of Facebook’s revenue in 2019 will be driven by Instagram.  

2.  Zits and awkwardness are officially IN.  

Presets and face-tuning, be gone! An article out this week in The Atlantic tells us the younger generation of influencers are going for a less glossy, less perfected look on Instagram and that users are growing tired of over the top, manufactured photos in favor of more grit and authenticity. Overly-styled shots of avocado toast and poses in front of millennial pink “Instagram walls” are played out.  As Matt Klein, a cultural strategist at the consultancy Sparks & Honey, says, “We’ve all participated in those staged photos. And we can see through it. Culture is a pendulum, and the pendulum is swaying. That’s not to say everyone is going to stop posting perfect photos. But the energy is shifting.”
3.  Jury is still out on IGTV, but things are looking up. 
Outlets like Forbes and Adweek have suggested that IGTV, Instagram’s long-form vertical video feature/app launched last summer to compete with Youtube, is going to blow up in 2019 (in a good way).  After a slow start, it sounds like that prediction may be coming true. IGTV kinda seemed like a dud until announcing in February that IGTV previews would now be in user Insta feeds. Since then, views have increased between 300-1000% and companies like Meredith Publishing are expanding their IGTV line-up, having seen considerable traction on their IGTV show efforts to date.  
4.  It’s not about how many likes you get, it’s about what you share…maybe. 
Reports indicate that Instagram is considering hiding likes on users’ posts in an effort to reduce social media pressure and feelings of inadequacy.  Instead, it would indicate that posts were liked by a few named handles and would then just say “and others.”  The change would mean that users could still see how many likes their posts receive, but followers couldn’t.  This decision could be a game changer for influencers who often point to number of likes to prove their popularity and resonance to brands for sponsorship deals and partnerships.  
5.  Your shopping addiction just merged with your Instagram addiction.  
Instagram announced yesterday that it is testing out a new feature with a few dozen creators allowing their tagged products to become shoppable links, though the app is not facilitating any referral fees, which begs the question—is this the beginning of the end for affiliate links as we know them? Instead, influencers hoping to monetize by tagging brands on the platform will have to negotiate directly with the brands. So far, the influencers invited to participate include Aimee Song, Gigi Hadid, Kylie Jenner and Kim Kardashian.

This new feature is an extension of the feature that has been beta-testing brands like Zara, Nike, Warby Parker, H&M, and Kylie Cosmetics for their new in-app Checkout featurewhich allows users to shop from a specific group of brands (for now) without having to leave the platform. Users have been able to browse shoppable products for a while now, but conversion to sales often halts when they’re redirected to a brand’s shopping site.  If sales through Instagram Checkout become quick enough, advertisers are likely to take notice and invest.  
This newsletter is brought to you by The Storied Group.