Keep informed with this rundown of Instagram’s latest updates.
From Instagram Rooms to policy updates, the company is constantly implementing changes that apply to marketers and creators. But if you don’t know about them, you can’t make the most of them.
Stay ahead of Instagram trends and give your marketing that extra edge. Here are the new Instagram updates for April 2021.
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Top Instagram updates you need to know in 2021
April 2021 Instagram updates
These are the top Instagram updates marketers should know about this month.
Instagram introduces Remix Reels inspired by TikTok Duets
At the beginning of April, Instagram added a “remix” option to Reels that allows creators to react to an existing public Reel. Similar features — Duets and Stitch — have been popular on TikTok for some time, inspiring Snapchat to test a remix option as well.
Remix is enabled by default on Reels published from public accounts, but users have access to a disable option. When someone remixes a Reel, the original creator receives a notification.
Story drafts may soon come to Instagram
In late March, Instagram’s top boss Adam Mosseri and the app’s official comms Twitter account teased the release of a story drafts feature. “You asked and we’re delivering… story drafts coming soon,” said Mosseri.
Most content, including Instagram Guides, can be saved o as a draft in the creation stage, except for Reels and Stories. According to screenshots leaked by mobile developer Alessandro Paluzzi, before exiting story creation mode, people will be given the option to save an in-progress Story to a drafts folder. Right now, users can “save” Stories by downloading them.
A save option could make it easier for people to add posts or pictures to Stories as backgrounds, which is currently something creators use hacks to do.
Something new is coming ?
Soon you’ll be able to finish what you started with story drafts.
— Instagram (@instagram) March 23, 2021
Instagram Lite now available on Android in more than 170 countries
As of March, a lite version of the Instagram app is now available for Android users in more than 170 countries, including the United States.
Designed to use minimal data and perform in areas with limited connectivity, the lite app does not include AR filters, Instagram shopping, ads, or the option to create Reels. It does still allow people to view Reels, which remain popular among lite users in India, where TikTok is banned.
The team across the NYC and Tel Aviv offices dealt with challenges like device fragmentation, data plan limitations and user behavior. We're excited to bring this new version with better speed and performance to people everywhere, many of whom are first-time internet users.
— Vishal Shah (@vishalshahis) March 10, 2021
IGTV ads land in Australia and UK
Instagram began testing IGTV ads last year in the United States and will now expand tests to select creators in Australia and the United Kingdom.
These mobile-first, 15-second video ads use a revenue share model much like on YouTube, with 55% of earnings given to creators. Instagram expects the format to be made available to more creators in new regions over the coming year.
March 2021 Instagram updates
Here are the Instagram updates we’re tracking this month.
Instagram unveils Rooms, where up to four people can go live
A year after Instagram Live exploded on the platform, Instagram has opened live broadcasting to up to four participants and rebranded the format as Instagram Rooms. “This was maybe the number one feature request when the pandemic hit last spring,” said Adam Mosseri during one of the first Instagram Room sessions, with Lonnie Marts IIV, Ling.KT and Young Ezee.
The new format will continue to support badges, Live Shopping and fundraisers. Rooms launches on the heels of Twitter Spaces and the global launch of Clubhouse, an audio-only chat app where members can join rooms.
Instagram’s nudity policy amended to allow health-related content
Published in January, the board’s first Instagram-related ruling found that the post, which exhibited breast cancer symptoms in an eight-photo carousel, “should be allowed under a policy exception for ‘breast cancer awareness.’”
Instagram’s nudity policy still largely prohibits posts that depict female nipples, which remains a point of contention among many. The updated policy states: “photos in the context of breastfeeding, birth giving and after-birth moments, health-related situations (for example, post-mastectomy, breast cancer awareness or gender confirmation surgery) or an act of protest are allowed.”
Affiliate feature for creators appears to be in the works
Screenshots shared by mobile developer and reverse engineer Alessandro Paluzzi show that Instagram developers are preparing a new feature for creators. While still in development, the feature may soon allow creators to earn commissions by sharing products and creating affiliate content.
In an interview published by The Verge in February, Instagram head Adam Mosseri discussed the company’s approach to creator monetization options. “If we want to be the No. 1 place for creators, we need to make sure that we offer a suite of services that they find meaningful and valuable as opposed to just one type of unstable value, which is distribution,” he said. “I don’t want to have our eggs in one basket.”
Expect to see more developments on this front as the ongoing competition heats up and apps like Snapchat and TikTok find more ways to throw money at creators.
Tests to “hide” like counts revealed by accident
Instagram has been testing an option that would allow users to hide like counts on their posts. In early March, a bug caused private like counts to launch to a number of users, prompting the company to offer some background.
“The idea started well over a year ago now and it was to make like counts private,” explained Instagram exec Adam Mosseri in a video tweet. The project, which aims to depressurize the experience on Instagram, was put on hold due to the pandemic, growing racial tensions and the spread of misinformation.
“We’ve picked it back up and we’re trying to figure things out. Clearly, it’s a very polarizing idea,” he said. It’s possible that users will be given the option to hide like counts on a post-by-post basis. Mosseri expects official updates to take place in the next couple of months.
We've been testing a new experience to hide likes on Feed posts. We unintentionally added more people to the test today, which was a bug — we’re fixing this issue and restoring like counts to those people as soon as possible.
— Instagram Comms (@InstagramComms) March 3, 2021
February 2021 Instagram updates
Lots of looming Instagram updates for stories and more.
Businesses and creators on Instagram now have access to a Professional Dashboard. While many of its features and resources already exist elsewhere, the dashboard makes them accessible from one central hub.
The dashboard can be accessed from the top of account profile pages. Sections include Track Your Performance, Grow Your Business, and Stay Informed, providing a mix of analytics, tools, and insights. Expect more updates throughout the year. “We’ll add to it over time,” said Instagram chief Adam Mosseri in a tweet.
Creators and business owners – check out Professional Dashboard, a new central place to help you track performance, discover new features, get tips and more.
We’ll add to it over time so we can keep helping you turn your passion into a living on Instagram. pic.twitter.com/P7ykONMmfR
— Adam Mosseri ? (@mosseri) January 26, 2021
Instagram developers are testing reorienting stories into a vertical, rather than horizontal, feed. If implemented, instead of swiping left, viewers would swipe up to view the next story. The user experience would emulate the Instagram Reels or TikTok viewing experience. Snapchat also recently launched a similar feed called Spotlight.
The reorientation could lead to further changes, including integration of stories and Reels in the Explore feed or Reels tab. If “swiping up” becomes a way to navigate to another story, Instagram may also have to find another way for people to access links.
Instagram is exploring removing the ability to share feed posts to stories. The option has been disabled in select markets where Instagram is testing differences in engagement.
Users in these markets received a notification that explained: “We hear from our community that they want to see fewer posts in Stories.” According to a statement from Instagram: “We’ve seen from research that people prefer to see original photos and videos in Stories from the people they care about. The goal of our test is to better understand how people feel about this type of content and ultimately improve the Stories experience.”
Meanwhile, the option to add tweets from Twitter to Instagram Stories may soon be available.
For some of you on iOS, we’ll be testing sharing a Tweet as a sticker to Instagram too! Tap the Instagram icon in the Tweet share menu to add the Tweet as a sticker in a Story.
— Twitter Support (@TwitterSupport) December 10, 2020
Those who wish to reconsider their deleted posts, or have had their content removed by hackers, now have the option to restore photos, videos, reels, IGTV videos, and stories within 30 days. The folder can be accessed through the path: Settings > Account > Recently Deleted.
January 2021 Instagram updates
New year, new Instagram updates. The theme for the start of the year seems to involve cracking down on T’s, C’s, and other regulations.
Ad targeting impacted by changes to Apple iOS 14 privacy features
An upcoming update to Apple’s iOS 14 operating system could soon restrict the amount of user data Facebook and Instagram can collect for targeted advertising. The new AppTrackingTransparency framework requires users to opt-in for data tracking.
Facebook rebuked Apple’s privacy update with full-page newspaper ads in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. The company argues that Apple’s new measures will be “devastating to small businesses.” Without personalized ads, Facebook claims that “the average small business stands to see a cut of over 60% in their sales for every dollar they spend.” Some experts have suggested this figure is slightly misleading.
While Facebook says it’s “standing up for small businesses,” Apple says it’s standing up for users. “Users should know when their data is being collected and shared across other apps and websites — and they should have the choice to allow that or not,” a spokeswoman told Bloomberg.
In September, European Union regulators based in Ireland sent Facebook preliminary orders to suspend data transfers from Europe to the U.S. In a court filing, Facebook’s associate general said that the ban would result in the company being unable to provide services in Europe. In December, Facebook confirmed plans to shift U.K. users to user agreements with its corporate headquarters in California.
Instagram Reels may soon appear on Facebook
Social media sleuth and developer Alessandro Paluzzi has spotted a new option that would allow Instagram Reels to appear in Facebook news feeds. Based on the screenshots captured by Paluzzi, the Reel would appear as “Recommended” and would not be linked to a Facebook account.
#Instagram keeps working on the possibility of recommending a Reel on #Facebook. Here's some more information about this option ? pic.twitter.com/RxKMQCvNFY
— Alessandro Paluzzi (@alex193a) December 11, 2020
The option to share Reels across platforms advances Facebook’s vision of interoperability between its family of apps.
Instagram fuels growth in India with Instagram Lite
During the company’s Fuel for India conference in December last year, Instagram announced plans to re-release a lighter version of its app in the region. At less than 2MB, the Android app is intended to accommodate people with limited access to reliable Internet or devices. Reels, IGTV, and Instagram Shopping are not available.
India is by far the fastest-growing market for Instagram, with adoption bolstered by the government’s decision to ban competitor TikTok in June 2020. With more than 120,000,000 users, and 20% year-over-year growth rate, India is set to overtake the United States as the region with the largest audience on the social network.
Instagram has relied on India as a test market for many new features, including Reels, the Reels tab, and the option to go live with up to four accounts. The company also announced the second edition of “Born on Instagram,” an initiative to discover talented creators on the app.
Trump banned from Instagram and Facebook indefinitely
In response to riots in Washington incited by outbound U.S. President Donald Trump, Facebook and Instagram have blocked his account for at least the remainder of his term.
“We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great,” said Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg in a statement. “Therefore, we are extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete.”
December 2020 Instagram updates
Instagram wraps up a complex year with updates to branded content, guides, and more.
Product and branded content tags now available for Reels
In November Instagram rearranged its home screen to put Reels front and center. Okay, technically front and center of the lower menu bar.
This month the Reels push continues with the rollout of product tags. These tags, which are also available for Instagram posts and Stories, make Reels posts shoppable. Posts with product tags, from businesses and creators, can now be promoted as ads as well.
In addition to product tags, Instagram has also added the branded content tags to Reels and Live. These tags are intended to improve transparency for sponsored posts.
A new creation workflow for Branded Content Ads also aims to make adding disclosures and the approval process easier. This allows creators to participate in ad creation, without having to post organically beforehand.
Instagram expands Guides to more users
After introducing Guides with select creators in May, Instagram has made the feature available for everyone.
In the initial rollout, all guides were centered around providing wellness tips. Now people can create guides around the theme of their choice using either regular posts or product posts.
Once published, guides can be shared across Stories, DMs, and are accessible on desktop.
You asked for it and it’s happening. We’re expanding our Guides feature – meaning you can curate and share products, places and posts you love no matter where you are.
I'm particularly proud of this work as it came out of our new IG Labs team. pic.twitter.com/45w5xk84nh
— Vishal Shah (@vishalshahis) November 17, 2020
Instagram unveils Home and Explore feed ranking systems
The algorithm that ranks home and explore feed content was given a bit of a reboot this December.
The rationale behind what Instagram engineers have dubbed a “constrained exploration system” was to create an entire experience that “feels like home.” According to an Instagram blog post, the Home Feed ranking system ranks content from the accounts you follow “based on factors like engagement, relevance, and freshness.”
The explore feed algorithm relies on a three-part ranking funnel to predict the accounts people are likely to interact during a session.
“If an individual interacts with a sequence of accounts in the same session, it’s more likely to be topically coherent compared with a random sequence of accounts from the diverse range of Instagram accounts,” explains Ivan Medvedev, senior software engineer of Machine Learning at Instagram in a Medium article.
In other words, if you’re going down a BTS rabbit hole, the explore feed A.I. will recognize that.
To make it easier to fall down the rabbit hole, the explore feed was given the Google treatment. Until November, people could search for usernames, hashtags, and locations on Instagram. Now people can search with keywords, too.
More new product news! Now you can search beyond usernames and hashtags for interests on Instagram. This will be available in English in a handful of countries and we’ll share more updates as we go as this is part of a longer-term investment in Instagram Search. pic.twitter.com/26Gj0iV8HT
— Vishal Shah (@vishalshahis) November 17, 2020
U.S. Antitrust lawsuit aims to breakup Facebook Inc.
On December 9, the U.S. Federal Trade Commission sued Facebook, alleging the company has illegally maintained a “personal social networking monopoly through a years-long course of anticompetitive conduct.” The lawsuit could require the divestment of Instagram and Whatsapp from Facebook, among other prohibitive measures.
“Obviously we disagree with the accusations,” said Instagram head Adam Mosseri in a story posted to the app and on Twitter. “The FTC cleared the acquisition of Instagram more than eight years ago.” Facebook bought Instagram for $715 million in 2013 and Whatsapp for $22 billion in 2014—acquisitions that were approved by regulators at the time.
“Facebook is going to fight a breakup with everything it’s got,” said Sarah Frier, Bloomberg social media reporter and author of No Filter, in a tweet. According to Frier, while each social app seems distinct to users, they share an integrated backend that will prove difficult to dismantle.
Facebook is going to fight a breakup with everything it's got. Because losing Instagram and WhatsApp would be terrible for Facebook's future: https://t.co/Dg9PHYaCsm
— Sarah Frier (@sarahfrier) December 10, 2020
November 2020 Instagram updates
Here are the new Instagram updates as of November 2020.
Reels and Shop tabs replace camera and activity on home screen
A redesign of Instagram’s homescreen now adds a Reels and Shop tab to the bottom menu, replacing the camera and activity shortcuts for all users. Access to these options has moved to the top of the homescreen, beside the Instagram Direct icon. The overhaul comes after Instagram tested various redesigns with select users.
The Reels tab replicates a TikTok-like experience, automatically opening on a video posted by any public account. The update reflects Instagram’s bid to offer creators more exposure and push the short-form video format. “This year we’ve seen an explosion in short, entertaining videos,” says Instagram head Adam Mosseri in a post. “ We’ve also seen more people buying online and looking to creators for shopping recommendations.”
Product tags now available for Instagram ads
Brands can already add product tags to Instagram posts. But now they can add them to Instagram ads, too. When clicked on, these tags allow people to see product details, add it to a wish list, or make a purchase. Ads with product tags can be created in Ads Manager, or by promoting existing shoppable posts.
Several advertisers, including Hollister and Korean skincare brand Dear, Klairs have been testing the feature over the past year. In its campaign with product-tagged ads, Dear Klairs saw a 45% decrease in cost per purchase and 42% reduction in cost per add to cart. Does that sound bad? It’s not. Saving money on transaction costs is one of the best ways to grow a business in an unstable economy.
Shoppable ads were introduced alongside new audience tools, including Shopping Engagement Custom Audiences. This custom audience lets brands target people who have previously shown an interest in their content. Shopping Lookalike Audiences target people with similar profiles to a brand’s existing customers.
Small businesses will have access to training, support, and insights on these features and more through Facebook and Instagram’s Seasons of Support initiative.
Instagram to enforce branded influencer content tagging
In response to an investigation by the Competition and Markets Authority in the United Kingdom, Instagram will soon add stronger enforcement measures for sponsored content. Recent research reported by BBC finds that more than 75% of influencer ads are not clearly labelled.
Creators will soon receive prompts that ask them to indicate if their content is tied to brand incentives before they post. Instagram will also play a more proactive role in monitoring sponsored content. A new algorithm will be used to find ad content, and posts that are not clearly marked will be reported to the brand being endorsed.
In the United States, the FTC has also pledged to crackdown on influencer marketing. In February the commission announced plans to codify endorsement guidelines and develop requirements for social platforms that benefit from influencer marketing.
Stay on top of these important influencer trends.
Instagram expands Live length limit, badges, and more
The latest update to Instagram Live allows creators to broadcast for up to four hours and gives them up to 30 days to save the recording. A dedicated “Live Now” section will soon show up in the Explore tab as well.
3 updates about IG Live:
?You can now go Live for up to 4 hours
?You can save your Lives for 30 days before they delete
? You’ll start seeing a “Live Now” section in the IGTV app and on Explore so you can discover more Lives pic.twitter.com/XGdg1XAj19
— Vishal Shah (@vishalshahis) October 27, 2020
Badges are now available in 11 countries, including the United States. Available for purchase during Instagram Live videos, badges are the first direct revenue stream for creators on the app. Read more about badges, under May updates, below.
Meanwhile, recent updates for Reels include options to save, browse, and share audio.
Nudity policy to change after removal of Black plus-size model posts
In August, Instagram faced allegations of censorship and discrimination after removing photos of plus-size model Nyome Nicholas-Williams posing with her arms over her breasts. The removal gave rise to similar allegations from Black creators on the platform and a petition spurred by the #IWantToSeeNyome hashtag.
Instagram denied racial discrimination, maintaining that the posts were taken down for violating the company’s nudity policy. A spokesperson for Instagram told The Guardian, “We do not allow breast squeezing because it can be most commonly associated with pornography.” Critics argued that similar poses by thinner white women have not been removed.
In response, Instagram held calls with Black creators, conducted an investagation, and reinstated photos that had been removed. The investigation found that its review process and policy had been incorrectly applied to Nicholas-Williams’ posts. “I’m grateful to Nyome and our community for speaking up and pushing for change,” said Instagram head Adam Mosseri in a tweet. Plans to add nuance to its nudity policy are underway.
Efforts to stop the spread of U.S. election misinformation
On October 29, days before the U.S. Presidential election, Instagram announced that it would temporarily disable “Recent” hashtags in an effort to halt the spread of misinformation. Several disinformation experts commented that these precautions may have been too little too late.
In August, Instagram and Facebook launched a Voting Information Center that appears at the top of people’s feeds. Both platforms started adding labels on political content in December 2019. Prompts also appear before a user can share political posts.
Investigations by Buzzfeed, Mashable, and others find that despite these efforts, false information continues to slip through the cracks—especially on IGTV, Instagram Live, and via Facebook video and groups.
The tricky thing, for Facebook, is that some of the most viral stories aren't strictly false. (Perdue + Loeffler *did* call for the SOS's resignation.) But they are feeding a stolen election narrative that is going to be hard to dial back.
— Kevin Roose (@kevinroose) November 10, 2020
October 2020 Instagram updates
The latest Instagram updates for October 2020 overhaul messaging and more.
New app released for businesses on Instagram and Facebook
Facebook has rebranded its Pages Manager App as Facebook Business Suite, an app that allows businesses to manage accounts across Facebook and Instagram. This cross-app backend integration allows admin to post across networks, and track messages, notifications, and analytics in one place.
Facebook’s chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg says the app is being built for small businesses first, but will eventually expand to all businesses across Facebook, Messenger, Instagram, and Whatsapp.
Automatic closed captioning added for IGTV
As part of a larger push to make Facebook and Instagram more accessible, Instagram IGTV creators now have the option to turn on automatic captions for their videos. The captions, which are powered by automated speech recognition AI, will first be available in 16 languages.
“It’s a start, and we’re working to expand to more surfaces and countries,” says Shah, VP of product. Captions can be turned on from the video settings menu. Automatic captioning does not deliver 100% accuracy, but the AI behind it learns and improves as more people use them.
Automatic captions, rolling out on IGTV today. Just go to settings and turn on video captions.
We want to make it easier for everyone to use Instagram and this is something many of you have asked for. pic.twitter.com/5Q5ZOJsPT3
— Vishal Shah (@vishalshahis) September 15, 2020
More commerce tools in the pipeline
In celebration of Instagram’s 10th anniversary, the company released a number of features and pledged continued support for small businesses and creators.
A new map and calendar tool lets people browse old stories by date and location. People can also change their Instagram icon on their phones to the classic, retro, or another style, by accessing a secret option in settings. To update your icon, go to your profile and open the menu. Opn settings and pull the page down until you see the confetti animation.
Instagram’s top executive, Adam Mosseri has also been outspoken about the company’s focus on commerce tools and monetization options. “We’re working on a number of new features to help creators make a living, expect more updates soon,” he hinted in one of his recent Friday Ask Me Anything sessions.
While nothing specific has been announced, he’s hinted that more audience insights may soon be available to business and creator accounts. “Right now the primary type of value we can help with is people reach their audience,” he said in an Instagram Live interview with Canadian social media personality Lilly Singh. The company’s vision is to provide creators with multiple ways to make money on the platform over the next five years.
Mosseri also spoke about plans to make it easier for businesses to sell on Instagram. “You’ll see a lot of focus on that over the next couple of years,” he told Singh. “I think you’re going to see progress, but it’s going to be slower than people might want—just to set expectations a little bit.
Reels update brings clip length to 30 seconds
Instagram’s latest update to Reels, TikTok-esque video clips that launched in August, brings video length from 15 to 30 seconds. On TikTok, clips can be as long as 60 seconds.
The update also added the option for creators to extend the timer to 10 seconds when recording. Trim and editing tools have been added as well.
September 2020 Instagram updates
These are the new Instagram updates as of September 2020.
Equity update adds transparency to Instagram’s algorithm
In an update on the racial justice commitments the company made in June, Instagram provided details on the formation of an equity team, new company-wide policies, and updated verification and distribution guidelines.
The update offered insight behind Instagram’s recommendations engine, which sorts the content people see in the Explore, Accounts You May Like, and IGTV Discover sections. Within the recommendation guidelines >are five broad categories that may not be eligible for recommendations. These include “sensitive or low-quality content about Health or Finance,” content that includes clickbait or engagement bait, and “unoriginal content that is largely repurposed from another source without adding material value.” When content is featured, accounts will receive notifications. Learn more about the Instagram algorithm.
In a review of the platform’s verification process, which determines who receives blue checkmarks, the company added more Black, LGBTQ+, and Latinx media it considers when measuring the “notability” of accounts. Automated systems that prioritized follower count have been removed from the application process.
Comment warnings, which prompt users to reconsider offensive remarks, will be expanded to Instagram Live. Business and creator accounts can also better manage who can slide into their DMs.
Reels and Shops tabs tested on the home screen
Instagram is now testing three versions of the home screen that add shortcuts for the Reels and Shop tabs.
“These changes reflect shifts we’re seeing from people, both in how they use the product but also how they push culture forward on Instagram: rise of creators, explosion of video, acceleration of online shopping,” said Adam Mosseri, Instagram head, in a post.
Learn more about Instagram trends.
Checkout and Live shopping available across the U.S.
Over the next few weeks, all eligible U.S. business and creator accounts with Instagram Shops will have access to Instagram Checkout and Live shopping. Facebook has also added a Shop section to its platform. For now, the company is waiving selling fees for vendors.
New features were also introduced for shops. Businesses can now tailor their social storefronts with new layouts and see real-time previews of collections while they set them up. Commerce Manager also got a slight upgrade so businesses can better track sales efforts.
The expansion supports a shift to online retail in response to the global pandemic. According to the company’s latest Global State of Small Business Report, a number of small businesses are making a significant percentage of sales online.
Users paid by Facebook to deactivate accounts
Select Facebook and Instagram users have been given the option to participate in a study that requires them to deactivate their accounts and complete a survey. Announced August 31, the study will be conducted by Facebook researchers and independent external academics as a part of the company’s effort to probe election interference.
Anyone who chooses to opt in – whether it’s completing surveys or deactivating FB or IG for a period of time – will be compensated. This is fairly standard for this type of academic research. More here: https://t.co/uw4B8XhsYY
— Liz Bourgeois (@Liz_Shepherd) September 3, 2020
“Anyone who chooses to opt in – whether it’s completing surveys or deactivating FB or IG for a period of time – will be compensated,” said Facebook spokesperson Liz Bourgeois in a tweet.
The study contributes to the company’s latest push to “protect the election,” including the addition of mail-in ballot info to Instagram home feeds and the removal of more than 70 Instagram accounts for coordinated in authentic behaviour. Critics argue these steps are too little too late, with early voting underway and misinformation continuing to run rampant.
August 2020 Instagram updates
Here’s the lowdown on the latest Instagram updates from August 2020.
Reels rolls out to more than 50 countries, including the U.S.
As U.S. officials threaten TikTok restrictions, Instagram has seized the opportunity to release Reels in more than 50 countries including the U.S., Australia, Canada, and Japan. The feature was released in India in July on the heels of a nationwide-ban of TikTok.
The TikTok copycat allows people to record and edit 15-second videos with a full gamut of special effects. Once created, they can be shared to the feed, Stories, and Direct, while public Reels also appear in a dedicated part of the Explore tab. In some countries, Reels has replaced the Explore tab altogether.
Many influencers and creators have jumped on board, thanks in part to lucrative financial incentives. In response, TikTok dropped $200 million into its Creator Fund. Expect competition for creators to intensify as companies like Twitter and Microsoft vie for TikTok ownership, and competitors like YouTube make moves of their own.
Several brands have gotten in on the action as well, including Louis Vuitton, Sephora, Guess, and The Score. But as Digiday reporter Lara O’Reilly points out, there are notable absentees, including The Washington Post, an early TikTok adopter. Ad placement and options are not yet available, but Instagram does plan to make branded content tools available in the future.
Instagram back at it again.. Reels?! pic.twitter.com/HOjrbB6ypl
— Jeff Wright (@JeffRightNoww) July 27, 2020
New fonts for Instagram Stories
After announcing in April that it was testing fonts, Instagram has made four new type styles available for Instagram Stories, bringing the total up to nine. The inclusion of Comic Sans-like lettering revived the love-to-hate debate on Twitter, and also prompted reminders that the font is among the few that are disability friendly.
ℕεฬ ғ?ｎ?? ｉｎ ⓢŤό?เєｓ
ţ?ㄚ ?ℍ?м ｎ?w https://t.co/XqrnTRiJRV
— Instagram (@instagram) August 3, 2020
Messenger and Instagram Direct merge begins
The paper airplane icon in the upper right corner will soon be replaced with the Messenger lightning bolt and speech bubble. On August 14, several Instagram users received a pop-up message informing them of the update.
The update brings more colors and emoji reactions to Instagram inboxes, as well as the option to swipe-to-reply. Eventually people will be able to chat with their Messenger contacts on Instagram, and even host Messenger Rooms with up to 50 people.
Facebook appears to have very casually, on a Friday night, begun merging Instagram and Facebook Messenger chat.
When you click “update,” Instagram DMs turn a little more colorful. Messenger integration doesn’t appear to be live yet, however. pic.twitter.com/zN7dDQx81V
— Chris Welch (@chriswelch) August 15, 2020
Voting Information Center added ahead of U.S. election
In anticipation of the upcoming U.S. presidential election, Facebook and Instagram have launched a Voting Information Center. The center, which can be accessed from profile menus, provides links for voter registration, vote by mail information, the option to sign up for poll work, and facts about voting.
T-82 days till the US election. ?
Get more info with our new Voting Information Center where you can register to vote, learn how to vote by mail and more.
Just head to your Instagram profile → tap the menu in the upper right → tap “2020 US Election.” pic.twitter.com/8MtFIiX1Wv
— Instagram (@instagram) August 13, 2020
July 2020 Instagram updates
Here are Instagram’s latest updates as of July 2020.
Instagram releases Reels in India, following TikTok ban
On the heels of the Indian government’s decision to ban TikTok and several other Chinese apps, Instagram released Reels, a 15-second video and audio clip feature, to a broad user group in the country. India is the fourth country to test the TikTok-inspired feature, following Germany, France, and Brazil, where Reels was introduced last November.
TikTok’s departure from the Indian market leaves ripe opportunity for Instagram. India was TikTok’s largest user base outside China, with more than 120 million monthly active users. Part of the reason for the app’s success is that it allows creators to parlay popularity into viable income streams. For now, Reels does not support direct monetization.
Videos already account for one third of all Instagram posts in India. According to Instagram’s VP of Product, Vishal Shah, 45% of all videos posted on the platform are 15 seconds or shorter. The in-app tool lets users record, edit, add audio effects, and share the clips in the feed, stories, and explore tab.
An Instagram story posted by fashion influencer Danielle Bernstein (@weworewhat) on July 20 suggests Reels may soon come to the American market, too. In the U.S., which has supplanted India as TikTok’s second largest market, officials have also publicly mulled a ban. Facebook, meanwhile, shuttered its TikTok clone, Lasso, on July 10.
Instagram tests a central Shop tab
Some users may see the heart icon in the app’s navigation bar swapped for a shopping bag in the near future. As TechCrunch reports, on July 7, Instagram started a small global test that replaces the Activity tab with an Instagram Shop tab.
The shortcut makes shopping on Instagram one tap away, versus the two taps currently required to reach Shops from the Explore tab. Activity stays one tap away, too. It just moves up near the Instagram Direct paper airplane icon.
Pin comments option now available to everyone
All users on Instagram can now pin up to three comments to the top of their posts. The feature is intended to help users set and manage the tone of responses to their posts. Comments can be pinned by swiping left and tapping the pin icon. When an account pins someone else’s comment they receive a notification.
Today we’re rolling out pinned comments everywhere ?
That means you can a pin a few comments to the top of your feed post. By highlighting positive comments, you can better manage the tone of the conversation. ❤️ pic.twitter.com/w2X5grdee7
— Vishal Shah (@vishalshahis) July 7, 2020
Looking for more Instagram hacks? Find our top tips and tricks here.
Facebook considers ban on political ads
Ahead of the U.S. election, sources tell Bloomberg that Facebook is exploring a political ad blackout. The ban would mark a reversal from Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg’s previous stance on the matter.
Facebook and Instagram currently allows political advertising on its platforms with limited checks against false claims and misinformation. In June, both platforms gave users the option to “turn off” political ads.
A ban on political ads would partially address the recommendations put forward by the Stop Hate For Profit campaign. Close to 400 companies have boycotted advertising on Facebook and Instagram to protest the spread of online hate.
Learn more about Instagram advertising.
Wear a Mask reminder added to top of the feed
In response to the rise of COVID-19 cases in the United States, Instagram added an alert to the top of the feed that reminds people to wear masks. The reminder includes a link to the Centers for Disease Control website.
With the rise in COVID-19 cases in the US, we’re putting an alert at the top of @instagram to remind everyone to wear face coverings and find more prevention tips from the CDC. #WearAMask pic.twitter.com/2VaG644Ylt
— Vishal Shah (@vishalshahis) July 2, 2020
Here’s how to use social media for crisis communications.
Facebook and Instagram launch a Voting Information Center
On July 3, voting age residents of the United States received a message at the top of their Instagram and Facebook apps about voter registration. The message links to the state’s registration website, polling locations, early voting options, and more. Instagram now has election day countdown stickers that link to voting information as well. With additional pushes planned before November, Facebook expects to reach 160 million people in the U.S.
June 2020 Instagram updates
These are the Instagram updates for June 2020 you should know about.
Instagram vows to address racial inequality
With momentum building behind Black Lives Matter, Instagram has pledged to reexamine how its policies, tools, and processes impact Black communities on Instagram. The reexamination will focus on harassment, account verification, distribution, and algorithmic bias. The company also committed to increase the amount of people of color employed in leadership positions to 30% over the next five years.
Instagram also added an “Act for Racial Justice” section to its Donation Sticker options in an effort to make it easier for people to support related organizations.
We want to make it easier for you to create fundraisers for orgs supporting racial justice. Tap on the donation sticker in stories and you’ll see a new 'Act for Racial Justice' section. pic.twitter.com/fi7ufx5JFR
— Instagram (@instagram) June 15, 2020
Read our guide on genuine social media activism.
Access to Instagram Shopping expands to more businesses
In June, Instagram introduced Commerce Eligibility Requirements to expand access to Instagram Shopping to more businesses. Under the new requirements, which took effect July 9, any eligible business or creator account in supported markets with a minimum of one eligible product can use Instagram’s shopping tags. To be eligible, product listings need to be available for direct purchase from a verifiable website or Instagram Checkout.
Instagram tests a “See All stories” grid
More than 500 million people use Instagram stories every day. The popularity of the format is likely the reason Instagram is exploring ways to bring more visibility to them. Most recently the platform tested a “see all stories” option that takes people to a full grid of stories. Previously the app tested showing two rows of stories at the top of the feed instead of one.
You've heard of two rows of Instagram Stories…
Now prepare for “SEE ALL STORIES” pic.twitter.com/vs42wwHuh0
— Julian Gamboa (@JulianGumbo) June 26, 2020
Shoppable product tags spotted in captions
Select Instagram business accounts have been able to add product tags to the captions of their posts. When tapped, the tag opens onto a shoppable product page. The beta eCommerce feature was spotted by tech reporters Oriol Salvador and Matt Navara.
new on Instagram? tagging products in the COPY of an Instagram feed post… https://t.co/0gIBIPq5UV
h/t @oriolsalvador pic.twitter.com/KTXC4xabF8
— ? Matt Navarra (@MattNavarra) June 17, 2020
Instagram Direct and Messenger integration under development
Instagram and Facebook developers are working to integrate the platforms’ private messaging channels across apps. Early prototypes have shown the option to “Get Messenger on Instagram.” The integration could allow Facebook contacts to connect through Messenger on Instagram. Features from Messenger, including chat colour customization and video chat, will likely carry over as well.
As we've mentioned before, we're working on making our messaging services work across our apps. This is an early prototype, which we aren’t testing externally.
— Instagram Comms (@InstagramComms) June 3, 2020
May 2020 Instagram updates
Learn about the new Instagram updates for May.
Instagram opens up Shops
Brands and creators now have the ability to open Instagram storefronts showcasing collections and products that can be purchased in-app. People can visit shops from a tab in Instagram profiles, or find them through the feed, explore tab, and stories. The new native shopping experience aims to boost social commerce returns by eliminating the taps between discovery and checkout.
Learn how to set up an Instagram Shop for your business.
Live ads and badges add direct revenue streams for creators
In late May Instagram announced plans to begin testing a new badges feature. Fans will be able to purchase badges during Instagram Live videos to stand out in the comments, nab a spot on a list of the creator’s badge holders, and earn “a special heart.” Costs for badges range between 99 cents and $4.99. During the test phase, influencers will receive 100% of the revenue they earn.
IGTV ads offer another revenue stream for creators. These ads appear when people click to see the full video after watching the preview. A small group of creators and advertisers will have access to the ad format as Instagram tests different experiences, including on with a skip option. Instagram also expanded access to the Brand Collabs Manager platform so more creators can connect with brands.
Shopping comes to Instagram Live
Between February and March, as stay at home orders were issued worldwide, Instagram Live viewership rose by 70%. To help brands and creators capitalize on larger audiences, Instagram has made it possible to tag and display products in Live videos. The test will begin with businesses and roll out more broadly over the next few months.
Live videos can now be saved to IGTV
Instagram Live hosts now have the option to save their live videos to IGTV. Before this option was made available, the live streams expired 24 hours after the initial broadcast.
Discover how to use Instagram Live to grow your followers.
Instagram rolls out Guides
A new Guides tab has cropped up on the Instagram profiles of select accounts. The format features a collection of curated posts and videos along with headlines and tips that can be added. Each guide can be shared in stories or via direct message and they appear in a devoted section of the explore tab.
For now guides are tailored around the theme of wellbeing, though Instagram also launched a guide on racial justice. According to Instagram’s head Adam Mosseri, travel guides were planned as the initial use case prior to the pandemic.
Starting today, you can check out Guides – a new way to discover recommendations on Instagram.
We know people are struggling due to COVID-19, so the first Guides focus on wellness content from respected organizations and creators.
Find out more: https://t.co/nade33EfoM pic.twitter.com/AgivMXB1vk
— Adam Mosseri ? (@mosseri) May 18, 2020
Anti-bullying comment and tag controls added
In a bid to address bullying on the platform, Instagram has made it easier for people to remove negative comments and control who can tag them. Accounts now have the option to delete comments in bulk—a feature most useful for high engagement profiles or accounts targeted by trolls. To combat the malicious use of tags and mentions, account holders can limit tagging permissions to everyone, people they follow, or no one.
Today we’re sharing new ways to control your Instagram experience. ❤️
Now you can delete multiple comments and block or restrict multiple people at once. You can also manage who tags or mentions you on Instagram.
Find out more ?https://t.co/Ubhfr4IsPs pic.twitter.com/n6zKEa4Zju
— Instagram (@instagram) May 12, 2020
Giphy joins the Instagram family
In a deal worth a reported $400 million, Facebook has acquired GIF website Giphy with plans to further integrate the site across its apps. The acquisition was motivated, in large part, by the popularity of GIFs on Instagram. According to Facebook, Instagram accounts for 25% of Giphy’s traffic. “By bringing Instagram and Giphy together, we can make it easier for people to find the perfect GIFs and stickers in Stories and Direct,” reads the press release.
Welcome to the family! For those wondering, GIPHY will continue to operate its library and relationships with content and API partners, so if you use GIPHY on other platforms, nothing will change. https://t.co/DR1e3wCrn9 pic.twitter.com/U6XWAohtzU
— Instagram Comms (@InstagramComms) May 15, 2020
Creators can now build AR effects with music
The effects gallery for Instagram stories is about to get more musical. The latest upgrade to Spark AR, Instagram’s augmented reality platform, streamlines the AR creation process and now includes the option to add audio effects. Beyond sound, another new capability makes it possible to create AR effects that alter photos and videos from the camera roll.
April 2020 Instagram updates
Instagram story updates and more from April 2020.
Gift card, food order, and donation tools added for small businesses
To help small businesses shoulder the economic impact of the pandemic, Instagram released a series of features for business and creator accounts. After setting-up their accounts with select partners, businesses can add “Gift Card” and “Food Order” stickers to Instagram stories. Businesses can also add these options as buttons to their profiles, in addition to a “Donate” button.
Learn how to use Instagram Stories to build your audience.
Live fundraisers launch with donation button
Instagram Live hosts can now add a donate button to the bottom of their video to raise money for nonprofits. Hosts can keep track of donations and virtually “wave” at supporters to offer thanks. When someone donates, they receive special access to an “I Donated” sticker for a limited period. All of the proceeds earned by Live fundraisers go directly to the chosen nonprofit.
Now you can create and donate to fundraisers on Instagram Live. ❤️ All money raised goes to the nonprofit.
Donate and you'll see a new “I Donated” sticker in stories. Use it and your photo/video will be added to a shared story where friends can see how you’re giving back ? pic.twitter.com/RIKRP93XSY
— Instagram (@instagram) April 28, 2020
Steps taken to improve transparency of high-reach accounts
Facebook and Instagram are now piloting a feature that shows the location of high-reach pages and accounts. For now, the pilot will focus on accounts located outside of the U.S. but reach a large U.S. audience. The company is also looking at bringing transparency to more places, including Instagram profiles.
Starting today, as a part of our transparency efforts, we'll show the location of high-reach Instagram accounts on posts they share, if they are based outside the country and have a majority of followers in country. We're piloting here in the US to start.https://t.co/HDAwVTzo2C
— Adam Mosseri ? (@mosseri) April 22, 2020
IGTV app gets a redesign
The homepage of Instagram’s standalone IGTV app has been redesigned to put creators in the spotlight, the company told The Verge. Among the changes, the app will also have a new Discover tab that takes a page from TikTok’s playbook by serving content from a variety of creators (whether or not you follow them). On Instagram, IGTV videos shared to Instagram Stories now play a 15-second preview instead of displaying a static thumbnail.
Check out our complete guide for IGTV.
Instagram Direct comes to desktop
Instagram users can now read and reply to direct messages from desktop browsers.
March 2020 Instagram updates
Most of the new Instagram updates in March were released in response to the global pandemic.
COVID-19 Information Centre launched to halt misinformation
As the coronavirus pandemic spreads worldwide, Instagram and Facebook have announced the steps they are taking to prevent the spread of misinformation.
In addition to the information centre, which contains updates and tips from global and local health organizations, the company plans to remove “known harmful misinformation” related to COVID-19. Misleading content will be reviewed by partners, and exploitative ads will be banned.
In addition to masks, we're now also banning hand sanitizer, surface disinfecting wipes and COVID-19 test kits in ads and commerce listings. This is another step to help protect against inflated prices and predatory behavior we’re seeing (1/2)
— Rob Leathern (@robleathern) March 19, 2020
When someone searches or taps related keywords or hashtags, they are connected to accounts and resources of global and local health authorities. Some hashtags and COVID-related AI effects will be blocked and restricted altogether.
To help people get relevant and up-to-date resources, we will start showing more information from @WHO and local health ministries at the top of Instagram’s Feed in some countries. pic.twitter.com/czAHYItlEx
— Instagram Comms (@InstagramComms) March 13, 2020
Learn how to use hashtags on Instagram to get results.
Stay Home and Thanks Health Heroes stickers added
To show gratitude to healthcare workers and promote physical distancing, Instagram added a Stay Home and Thanks Health Hero sticker to the stories gallery. When the sticker is used, the story is added to a shared Instagram story as well.
Today we’re launching a new “Stay Home” sticker that you can find in Stories. If you use the sticker, your photo or video will be added to a shared Instagram story where people can see how you're staying home and staying safe ❤ pic.twitter.com/MtU3d4bKKq
— Instagram (@instagram) March 21, 2020
Instagram pilots IGTV ads and monetization for creators
Instagram has confirmed that it started testing in-stream ads on IGTV, its long-form video channel, with a small group of creators. As Bloomberg reports, creators will earn 55% of ad revenue, which matches YouTube’s rates. These ads introduce a direct monetization stream for Instagram creators as competition between platforms heats up. Instagram continues to actively encourage IGTV video creation on its @creators account.
February 2020 Instagram updates
Here are the key updates on Instagram in February.
New Following categories introduced
Following and follower lists now organizing accounts into different categories. Under the Following list, people can now see the 50 accounts that are most shown in their feed and the 50 accounts they interact with least. The full list of followers can also be sorted by latest or earliest. Categories in the Follower tab now include “Accounts you don’t follow back” and the 50 “Least interacted with” accounts.
Support and appeals tools added to stem harassment
On Safer Internet Day, Instagram introduced new tools to make it easier for people to track and appeal issues. People who report content and accounts will have access to Support Requests, where they can monitor the status of reports and request additional reviews. Accounts that have been disabled will be now able to appeal the decision in the app, rather than through the Help Centre.
Instagram launches @InstagramComms on Twitter
Instagram has launched a new Twitter account (@InstagramComms) for news, product updates, and more. The company’s primary Twitter account will remain focussed on community stories, content, partnerships, and events.
Hi, we’re the Instagram PR team and this is our new handle! pic.twitter.com/udAPAGEh4v
— Instagram Comms (@InstagramComms) February 28, 2020
January 2020 Instagram updates
Instagram updates in January included several new business tools.
Growth metrics added to Instagram Insights
Business and creator accounts can now better track follower growth from the Instagram Insights dashboard. The new section displays audience growth over seven days in a bar chart and tallies follows and unfollows over selected time frames. This update also lets accounts can also see which posts and stories are generating the most followers. Another feature added to the Activity tab aggregates the stories that have mentioned your account over the past 24 hours.
Want more followers on Instagram? Here are a few tips that actually work.
Age gating options now available
Instagram has introduced age-gating features to allow business and creator accounts to control who can see their profiles. Accounts can elect to set a default minimum age, or vary age limits by country. In December, Instagram started asking people to submit their birthday when creating accounts, and pledged to provide age-appropriate experiences on the app.
Secondary inbox tab created for businesses
Direct messages businesses receive on Instagram can now be organized with primary and general tabs. The two-tab system is designed to separate low and high priority messages. All messages initially appear in the primary tab, but less urgent messages can be moved to general. Message requests from accounts you do not follow will also appear in the inbox, and can be sorted by All Requests or Top Requests.
Just getting started on Instagram? Learn how to use Instagram for business.
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