Instagram never stops to surprise us.
While the world is trying to stay resilient through these tough economic times, it is exciting to see how Instagram is rapidly developing new features and functionalities to tackle main business issues and help users support their favorite brands.
And now, more than ever, keeping up with what’s new on Instagram can be quite a challenge. There are new Instagram features almost every week.
To help you stay up-to-date with the latest Instagram updates and adjust your business to them, we put together a list of the latest updates you may not know about and don’t know how to use them.
Keep in mind that Instagram is constantly adding and removing features (now faster than ever).
So in case you don’t have some of the features we listed, don’t worry – they are coming on your way! Or better, subscribe for our newsletter and we will bring all new Instagram updates right to your inbox:
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New Instagram Features November 2020
Instagram Keyword Search
Instagram’s CEO Adam Mosseri announced keyword search in a very subtle announcement on his social media profiles.
For example, if you previously wanted to search for “bread recipes,” you’d only be able to search for posts that have the hashtag #breadrecepies and accounts, including on “bread recipes” in their name or bio.
With the keyword search, you can search keywords or keyphrases and get results of the actual posts that have the bread recipe, even if they don’t contain the hashtag.
At first, it seems no big deal, but on second thought, this feature might be a game-changer in how people will use Instagram and, therefore, how creators, brands, and marketers respond to this new usage.
In more detail, there is a clear intent in the keyword. A person is looking for something, and now Instagram will show the posts that most likely match their search intent. Is all this sound familiar?
Yes, it feels like Googling 🙂
As marketers, it will immediately trigger a response in understanding how Instagram will rank the top posts. We might even try to do some SEO magic to our Instagram posts to discover what ranks first: most likes, are verified profiles, most optimized content – or all the above.
So, Is Instagram becomes a new search engine? Can it replace some of the search intent, especially on mobile? Is this beginning of Instagram SEO?
Let’s wait and see, but it’s fascinating to see how Instagram will evolve.
Instagram Guides is expanding to all users
Instagram has expanded the Guide functionality and is allowing all users to create article-like posts.
So, in short…
Guides are expanding to posts, products, and more users.
As of November 17th, 2020, Instagram announced that they allow the Guide functionality to all users that initially were available to specific creators only.
Now everybody will be able to create and post a guide, litteraly by anything.
In short, guides are recommendation articles that can include different Instagram posts or captions, products or photos, and videos. It’s a creative space for people wanting to recommend a travel destination, cosmetics, or a fitness routine to their followers.
Watch Together to watch real-time videos with your friends
Instagram just gave users a more exciting messaging experience to stay connected to those that matter most to you. Watch Together feature is going to make hanging outs even more fun on your favorite social platform.
So, next time you update your Instagram app, you and your friends can tune into IGTV, Reels, TV shows, movies, or trending videos in real-time over a video chat.
To start using Watch Together:
- Go to an Instagram video chat
- Tap the media button in the bottom right
- Select the ‘TV & Movies‘ tab.
- Choose your favorite content
- Enjoy watching!
Vanish Mode to make messages disappear
Another great messaging feature from Instagram we have needed for so long – the option to make your messages vanish after some time!
Instagram announced rolling out the Vanish Mode – a feature that
makes your seen messages disappear after you leave a chat thread.
Please note that only people that follow each other on Instagram can use vanish Mode in direct chats.
To make the Vanish Mode available, swipe up in an existing chat thread – and you’re automatically in vanish mode. To return to a regular chat – swipe up again.
After all, it’s an optional feature. It’s up to you to decide whether you enter vanish Mode with someone or note. In case someone takes a screenshot of your chat while you’re using vanish Mode, Instagram will notify you.
Instagram adds Reels and Shop tab to your home screen
Instagram’s home screen navigation just got a fresh new look!
After the increased craving for short and entertaining videos and more people buying online and relying on creators for shopping recommendations, Instagram announced adding Reels and Shop tab to users’ home page.
The goal of the Reels tab is to make it more straightforward to discover short, funny videos from creators, while the Shop tab provides you with an easier way to connect with your favorite brands and buy the products you love.
Instagram’s team hopes that this new design will give the app a much-needed refresh while focusing on its core value – simplicity.
New Instagram Features October 2020
The Music sticker expands globally
Ready to start adding soundtracks to your Instagram Stories? Rolling the music sticker worldwide made this so much easier!
Besides adding text and filters, music stickers can have a massive influence to make your Instagram story more appealing and engaging.
And they work pretty straightforward. Just create a Story, tap on the music sticker, and search for a song.
You have the freedom to edit which part of the song you want to play (up to 15 seconds). If lyrics are available for the selected song, you can show it in different fonts and designs.
Next time, when someone watches your story, they can tap on the lyrics and continue listening to the song or learning something about the artist itself. Awesome, right?
New useful Reels features
Talking about adding some catchy soundtrack to your Instagram story, Instagram Reels added some useful options for all Reels creators.
Here are the main new options you should be aware of (and use them for your advantage, of course):
- Save Audio – save sounds and re-use them on your next video
- Share Audio Pages – share your Reels over Direct Message
- Audio Browser – find your next audio in the ‘For You’ and ‘Trending section’
New updates for Instagram Live
Despite new updates for Instagram Stories and Reels, the platform surprised us with three new Instagram Live updates:
- You can now go Live for up to 4 hours (until now, it was up to an hour-long)
- Live videos will be available in your archive for 30 days, so you can download them or re-use it for your next IGTV content
- ‘Live Now’ section is added within the IGTV app and on Explore so you can discover more Lives
According to Instagram, this is another step toward helping creators follow their interests, reach audiences, engage with communities, and build businesses.
Instagram badges are live
And here is another good news for creators that use Instagram live!
After a couple of months of testing, Instagram badges are finally rolled out for creators in the USA.
As a reminder, viewers can buy a badge during a live video and as a result – stand out in the comments section and unlock additional features such as being listed on the creators’ list of badge holders.
According to early adopters, despite helping brands stay connected with their fans, badges seem to be vital to make some money on Instagram.
Currently, Instagram badges are in ongoing expansion in the US, but soon they will be available in France, Italy, Spain, UK, Germany, Brazil, Mexico, Turkey, Australia, and Japan.
We are looking forward to seeing how the creators globally will do with this cool Instagram feature.
Instagram Shopping is expanding on IGTV
It was about time, IGTV Shopping is here! After the shopping options for Explore, shopping tags on Stories, and Checkout, Instagram is expanding it’s Shopping features across IGTV.
This way, when Instagram users are watching IGTV and see something they like, they can click on the product and will be directed to the retailer’s website to purchase it.
It is a win-win situation for both users who want a fast buying experience and brands and influencers that want to monetize from their IGTV channel.
Of course, Instagram will also get a percentage of sales. However, since more people are turning to online shopping, this won’t seem to be a problem for anyone.
Despite IGTV, shopping features will be tested with Instagram Reels, too.
New Instagram Features September 2020
Facebook is merging Messenger and Instagram
We’ve just got the best of both worlds!
Facebook announced bringing the best Messenger features to Instagram by combining the Messenger app and Instagram. This update will allow users to communicate across these two apps more smoothly.
So now, no matter which app you use, you can have access to the best messaging experience. For example, people who use the Messenger app can get in touch with you on Instagram without downloading the Insta app (and in reverse). The best part is that you have full control of the app where you want to receive your messages and calls.
Do not worry, messages, and calls from your contacts that use Instagram will remain in your Insta app.
With the new Messenger experience on Instagram, you will get the following new features:
- Communicate Across Apps possibility to send messages and join video calls with your friends no matter if you are using Instagram or Facebook Messenger
- Watch Together option to watch videos with friends and family during a video call on IGTV, Reels, Facebook Watch, TV shows, movies, etc
- Vanish Mode for your seen messages to disappear after you have seen them or when you close the chat
- Selfie Boomerang Stickers from yourself and animated message effects
- Personalized chat with a variety of colors and a shortcut for your favorite emojis
- Effortlessly forward your content with up to 5 friends or groups and respond directly to a message in your chat
- Advanced message controls so you have the control of who can message you directly, and who is not allowed to send you a message at all
- Improved reporting and blocking updates to report inappropriate conversations
For now, this update will be rolled out in just a few countries, but soon we can expect them to expand globally.
New ‘Suggested Posts’ feature after ‘You’re All Caught Up.’
To help avoid users’ addictive behavior endlessly scrolling down the Insta app, a few years ago, Instagram introduced the ‘You’re All Caught Up’ feature to let Instagram users know when they have reached the bottom of their feeds.
But now, Instagram includes suggested organic posts and ads at the end of users’ feeds in order to keep them scrolling for longer.
The reason? According to Instagram’s director of product, Robby Stein, after a user knows that they are all caught up, with this feature, they can decide how they want to continue to invest their time, and it makes it easier to go a little deeper for those who choose to do so.
Suggested Post’s goal is not just to increase user engagement and time spent on the app but also to give publishers a new ground to show more ads.
The new feature is already available globally.
Fee for adding links to your captions
According to a patent application by Facebook, there is a possibility that Instagram will charge if you want to add links to your captions.
If this feature rolls out, once Instagram detects a link within a caption, they will show a pop-up asking for payment to activate the link. In the patent application, the price is set at $2, but it is still unknown what might be the actual price.
Currently, Instagram allows only over 10k followers and verified profiles to add links to their Stories. For brands that don’t want to pay for including links to their captions, they can add a clickable link in their Insta bio with a simple link in bio tools like FeedLink to do the job instead of them.
Automated captions to IGTV
Talking about captions, Instagram will add AI-powered automatic captions to IGTV videos when people are watching it with the sound off.
These captions will only be visible for users who will be watching their videos on mute. Of course, in their account setting, users have full control of how and when they see the captions.
For now, the feature will kick off in 16 languages, but this number will continue to grow in the upcoming months.
Yes, this is one of those updates that makes many social media managers and content creators very happy because they can spread their messages even if their IGTV videos are being muted.
This is the second time the parent app uses AI to bring text to video. Two years ago, Instagram introduced automatic alternative text and custom alternative text to photos to help visually impaired users improve their Instagram experience.
Reels can be recorded for up to 30 seconds
While the future of TikTok remains uncertain, Instagram is giving users new useful updates from the feature they successfully borrowed from TikTok – Instagram Reels.
As far as you know, Reels began as 15-second videos, but now it’s recording time is doubled. So with the latest update, creators can record up to 30 seconds of video.
Other updates include setting the timer for 10 seconds and making it easier to edit and delete any clip.
TikTok videos also started up to 15 seconds long, but the company recently extended the limit to 60 seconds. Will Instagram follow the same practice?
New Instagram updates in August 2020
Instagram checkout is rolling out in the USA
After being tested among a small number of partners, Instagram finally announced that Instagram checkout is available to all eligible businesses and creator accounts in the USA that already have an Instagram shop.
Instagram checkout will make it easier for people to make a purchase in just a few taps, without leaving the app. And for businesses and creators, it comes as a more seamless and secure way to sell products directly on Instagram and reduce the cost while doing it.
For now, businesses can open up an Instagram Shop with checkout using Commerce Manager, or eCommerce platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce.
Once you have your Instagram Shop, you have a variety of options at your fingertips – creators can tag your products in their posts, you can notify people of your upcoming launch and promote your products and create real-time demand for your offer with Live Shopping (scroll down to read more about it).
If Instagram checkout seems like a fit for your marketing and sales strategy, explore the official guidelines on how to get started.
Live Shopping for people to shop in real-time
Instagram is making huge a difference when it comes to online shopping, and this time they went over and above with it’s latest Live Shopping feature.
The process is really simple – business and creators add up to 30 products from their collection on live streaming. When going Live, they can pin the product they are talking about so viewers can get familiar with its characteristics. If they like it, users can tap on it to view the product details page and buy them.
Here are the official steps to add products to Live Shopping on Instagram.
Please note that currently, Instagram Live Shopping is available to all businesses and creators that use Instagram checkout in the US.
If interested to give it a shot to this promising option, we created an article where we dive into All The Details About Instagram’s Latest Feature – Live Shopping.
Easily open Instagram accounts with QR codes
Instagram is transforming the functionalities of Nametags, the internal QR-like codes that could be scanned only from an Instagram camera (until now).
With the latest update, you can now scan QR codes from any 3rd-party camera apps capable of reading QR codes.
The main goal here is for businesses to help users easily scan the code, open their Instagram account, and explore the products they offer, store info, or just follow the company’s account.
To include QR codes to your marketing strategy, follow these steps:
- Open your Instagram account and go to the Settings menu in your profile
- Tap on the QR Code option and modify the code look
- Save the image and share it with your followers
Finally, Instagram is responding to the trending TikTok format.
Instagram Reels are 15 seconds short, fun, animated videos that provide a great platform for people to express their creativity, through music, animations, sounds, AR effects, emojis, and similar.
The huge advantage of Instagram Reels is the fact that Instagram as a major platform deals with record labels and provides a big library with sounds that users can freely use for their videos.
To learn all about Instagram Reels head to our blog: ‘Everything You Need to Know About Instagram Reels’
New Instagram updates in July 2020
Instagram pinned comments
As part of the changing community standards policies and addressing the bullying issues on the network, Instagram has rolled out a feature that allows users to pin comments on a certain post.
By doing this, brands or social media moderators will have more to say in what is important or what they think is trustworthy when interacting with users on Instagram.
This feature will definitely allow you to highlight the relevancy and visibility of what really brings value, thus eliminating the reach of the spam comments in posts.
To Pin a comment, first, make sure you are using the latest version of the Instagram app.
Then, tap on an Instagram post you want to manage and view the comments section.
Once you’ve found a certain comment you want to pin to the top, swipe to the left, and tap on the thumbtack (pin) icon.
Redesigned Instagram Shops to offer more personalized product recommendations
As the pandemic surges and buying online is no longer an option, but a necessity, Instagram just made it even easier for users to shop from brands and creators announcing its latest all-in-one Instagram Shop feature.
This is an already familiar feature we have seen before. The difference is that Instagram Shops is a new destination in the Explore tab that not only helps users discover the latest trends but also helps them preview new product launches or get even more personalized recommendations based on their interests.
As announced, the Instagram app will soon have a new Shop tab in the navigation bar, so users can go to the Instagram Shop with just a tap.
New commerce eligibility requirements to help businesses and creators sell on Instagram
With the new Commerce Eligibility Requirements, more types of businesses (including creators) can now access Instagram Shopping.
This way, any eligible business or creator that has (at least) one eligible product can use shopping tags to drive users from Instagram to their websites to buy the product.
According to the updated policy, to provide a consistent and trusted shopping experience for Instagram users, businesses need to tag products on Instagram from the website they own and sell from.
These requirements are now into effect (starting July 9th) in all the countries where Instagram Shopping is supported.
Please note that your Instagram account must be in an available market in order to tag products. So, go ahead check your country Instagram Shopping Availability here to see if you can be reviewed and approved for Instagram Shopping.
If eligible, visit this setup guide to learn how to enable Instagram Shopping.
New Instagram updates in June 2020
Supporting Instagram creators with Badges in Live videos
Until now, users could support their favorite Instagram creators in Live videos with comments, likes, and donations. With the latest Instagram functionality, fans can now participate in Live broadcastings with badges that they can interact with or even purchase during the live video.
As announced, badges will appear next to a person’s name throughout the live video offering fans advantages like:
- Standing out in the comments section
- Placement on creator’s list of badge holders
- Access to a special heart
- Unlock additional features
Badges are expected to expand across the US, Brazil, Australia, UK, Germany, France, Italy, Turkey, Spain, and Mexico in the upcoming months.
And if you would like to be considered for early access to badges, this is the form you should fill out.
Rolling out IGTV ads
Instagram just rolled out IGTV ads to support creators’ investment in IGTV and help them make revenue and facilitate connecting users with their products or ideas.
Users will see the IGTV ads when they watch the IGTV videos from previews within their Instagram feeds.
These video ads will be mobile optimized and can last up to 15 seconds.
New Instagram updates in May 2020
Turning business profiles into Instagram Shops
To lend a hand to all of the businesses that still struggle to sell their products online due to the Covid-19 crises, Instagram announced Shops on Instagram.
And this turned out to be a real game-changer for the ecommerce industry.
Similar to Instagram checkout and Product Tagging, this feature turns business profiles into online stores.
So now, users can visit a shop from a business’ Instagram profile or through Feed and Stories. Once they land on the shop, they can browse and buy products directly from an Instagram profile.
To start using this feature, you need to be an eligible business that completes the following criteria:
- Sell primarily physical goods
- Located in a Supported market
- Comply with Merchant agreement and Commerce policies
If you fulfill all of the criteria above, proceed to enable the shopping option on your Instagram business account to start using the latest Shop feature.
Once your shop shows to be eligible and approved, you will receive an email when your shop is converted into an Instagram shop and ready to start customizing.
We created a complete Facebook Shops guide with all the details about the Shop feature, so you can start using it today.
Guides – a new way to discover recommendations on Instagram
Instagram users struggle to find reliable information from their favorite Instagram accounts during the pandemic.
And relying on hashtags only is not an option anymore.
To tackle this, Instagram introduced Guides.
This feature is developed to help users easily discover recommendations or tips and from your creators, public figures, organizations, and publishers on Instagram.
Primarily, the focus is set on creating Guides on wellness content.
So, for now, this feature is limited to wellness-focused creators and companies that Instagram selected to launch this feature such as @afspnational, @heads_together, @vitaalere, @klicksafe, @headspace_aus, @deepikapadukone, @sudahdong, and @eenfance.
To see how the Guides feature works, visit the Instagram profile of participating creators or organizations mentioned above. Next, tap the middle icon to view their Guides.
As announced, this feature will soon be accessible within the Explore tab too.
Supporting small businesses stickers on Instagram
As we saw above, Instagram is not resting when it comes to supporting businesses facing immense challenges during the Covid-19 crisis.
Recently, Instagram announced a new Support Small Business sticker on Instagram.
This way, Instagram users can easily show their support for businesses in Stories.
They can mention businesses directly in the Story sticker, give their followers a preview of the account they are supporting and motivate others to do the same.
This seems like a win-win situation.
The Support Small Business sticker helps businesses stay connected to the people they serve and at the same time, reach new customers.
So, once your business is mentioned in the sticker, you can repost the content to your Story and send a direct message to people who tagged you.
In parallel, you can also use this sticker to encourage other entrepreneurs in your community.
Share your live videos directly to IGTV
With the COVID outbreak, people are looking for ways to be entertained online. And IGTV seems like a suitable way for brands to communicate with their customers and share new content in a video format around trending topics.
Until now, you could upload live videos in Stories, and they would be broken up into 15-second chunks with a 24 hours life span.
But with Instagram’s new update, you can share your Live videos immediately after the Live broadcast is over. The video will be saved to IGTV permanently until you decide to remove it.
This way, you can ensure that the video content will appear to new viewers and your message will be spread further.
Furthermore, you will give people something to tap on and interact on their smartphones while being in COVID-19 quarantine.
If you are still considering how to use Instagram’s new update, we got you covered!
We created a complete guide on how to use IGTV and make the most out of every Live you create and skyrocket your engagement rate.
Note: Next month (on the 29th of June, 2020), we can expect to see the long-awaited Instagram API update that was postponed several times.
This means that 3rd party apps that are using the current API will no longer be able to display photos from your Instagram account if they don’t switch to the new API after this date.
We created this article where you can find everything that you should know as a marketer about the upcoming API change and what should you in case your plugins stopped working due to this change.
New Instagram updates in April 2020
Gift cards, Food delivery, and Donation stickers to support local businesses
As physical stores being no longer an option, Instagram introduced new simple ways for businesses to continue their business operations online using Order food, Gift card, and Donation stickers.
The main goal of this feature is to help business and creator accounts include stickers in their Instagram stories that will direct customers to a website where they can order food delivery or buy a gift card.
To start using these stickers, you should connect with third-party companies that provide delivery or online gift card services.
The Donation sticker is a different story. Its purpose is to help nonprofit organizations boost their fundraising campaign awareness by asking loyal supporters to lend a helping hand.
As an added bonus, your Instagram followers and supporters can reshare these stickers in their own Stories and help you spread the word and drive more financial results.
To guide you on how to start applying this feature in your marketing strategy, we created a step-by-step article with all the details you need on how to use Instagram’s new update.
Businesses can add support CTAs to their profile
In addition to adding stickers to your Stories, you can also add Gift Cards, Order Food, and Donate options in the form of clickable buttons on your Instagram account.
These support CTAs will show next to your Contact and Message tabs on your Instagram profile.
So, when a user clicks on some of them, they will be directed to the chosen platform where they can complete the purchase.
For a similar purpose, you can use your link in bio and create a redirect link to your most valued landing page where you want your Instagram followers to continue their interaction with your brand.
Access Instagram Direct messages from your desktop
The long-awaited feature brands have been anxiously waiting for is finally here!
Instagram’s direct messages are now accessible through the desktop version of the site.
DMs (like the cool kids say them) were previously available to read and respond through the mobile Instagram app only and now you have them too on your desktop’s Instagram homepage.
This feature comes as a relief for brands and account managers.
They can type, copy, and paste copy faster and easier on their computers, thus improving their customer service on Instagram.
New Instagram updates in March 2020
A tool to access and download your Instagram account data
To help you be in control of your data on Instagram and show transparency in the type of content the app serves, Instagram announced a Download your data tool available within the Instagram app.
This tool will showcase your activity on the platform like post likes and comments that you have left, profile updates, what categories of content you have been into, etc.
It will also provide you with insights on the content you see in your Explore tab and why you are seeing it.
You can view your Instagram account data and even download a copy of it at any time. It takes up to 48 hours to receive a download link.
To access or review your account data on Instagram, follow these steps.
Generate revenue with IGTV
IGTV monetization is finally here!
As expected, Instagram’s video platform (IGTV) is becoming a larger consideration for online businesses in 2020, mostly because of the monetization options that are a great driver of creators to move or combine their Youtube with IGTV presence.
With this update, Instagram is allowing IGTV video creators to show advertisements along with their videos, hoping that in return, they will be motivated to bring more high-quality content back.
Similar to Facebook Watch, the goal is to encourage video creators to spend more time on the platform and direct their user base there.
Share videos directly to IGTV
March is all about embracing the usage of IGTV options.
Your live streams don’t need to remain in your Instagram stories anymore and disappear after 24 hours.
Instagram is testing the option that will allow users the moment the broadcast is over, to share their live streaming videos directly to IGTV.
Additionally, you can organize videos into IGTV series and then promote previews to gain followers’ attraction back.
New Instagram updates in February 2020
Video trimming tool for Stories
It has been a while since we have seen an Instagram Stories feature.
Instagram was probably busy testing a video trimming tool for Stories, a functionality that will allow editing and trimming videos for Stories within the app.
As announced, this tool will be very similar to other video editing tools that you may encounter if you use Android or iOS on your smartphone.
For many brands to create and edit their video Stories with other apps, and then upload it on the Instagram platform, this feature will make their job easier and faster, especially for small businesses who are creating Stories on the go.
We look forward to seeing this feature in action!
New Instagram updates in January 2020
Branded content: The future of advertising
Branded content is making it’s way to the forefront of Instagram, helping creators turn their passion into a living (more than ever).
To meet this opportunity, Facebook launched Brand Collabs Manager that is developed to help creators connect with brands that are looking to promote their products and services using the relations that creators/influencers have with their followers.
This feature, basically allows brands to collaborate with creators on trending campaigns in order to increase their reach and engagement, thus inlocking a new earning potential for creators.
So, if you are a creator and want to get access to the monetization tools from Facebook tools provided in the Brand Collabs Manager, you must apply to get discovered for paid partnerships.
Here are the steps on how to do that:
- Visit the Brand Collabs Manager page and click on the apply button or scroll the page at the bottom
- In the Eligibility section, you will see your pages and for each page, an indicator if it’s eligible and if not
According to the eligibility criteria, your Page will need to meet the following:
- Min 1000 Followers
- Engaging Content
- Engagement: In the last 60 days, you needed 15,000 post engagements, or
- Minutes Viewed: In the last 60 days, you needed 180,000 minutes viewed between all of your videos, or
- 1-Minute Views for 3-Minute Videos: In the last 60 days, you needed 30,000 1-minute views on videos that are at least 3 minutes long
- Meet Partner Monetization Policies – Continue publishing content that your Page has the rights to share, and continue to share that content in an authentic way. It’s important to stay familiar with the Partner Monetization Policies so you maintain eligibility
- Facebook accounts must request access to the branded content tool
IGTV becoming a more serious competition to Youtube
Instagram’s video platform (IGTV) is expected to become a larger consideration in 2020, mostly because of the above monetization options that possibly will be a great driver of creators to move or combine their Youtube with IGTV presence.
So, making all the needed features for Youtube creators to move to the IGTV platform is definitely the expected feature rollouts for the upcoming year.
The ad product that might attract more creators on the platform is expected to be very similar to the branded content format.
New Instagram updates in December 2019
We wrapped up last year with a new set of Instagram business tools and plenty of new IG updates.
Here are the major Insta updates that took place in 2019:
Instagram Insights for posts and stories
Just like in the other social media platforms, users can now see which posts and stories from their Instagram business pages are generating the most followers or engagement metrics.
This feature also helps you see how the number of followers is changing (by day or by week).
The main insights that are currently available are the following:
- Profile visits that this post attributed to
- Reach of the post
- Number of likes, comments, shares, and saves a particular post
To view the insights from your business account, follow the steps:
- Go to your Instagram profile
- Tap the Triple bar in the upper right corner
- Tap Insights
- Select specific posts, stories or promotions you would like to view insights on (use the numbers to learn more about your audience)
Which one is your favorite?
You can check the ‘See all’ section on the Insights page to check all posts from your archive and see how many Saves (my favorite metric) a post has gained so far.
Notification of stories that mention your brand
‘Stories About You’ feature makes it easier than ever to view, reply to and share the Instagram stories that mention your account (note that this applies only for Business or Creator Accounts).
Previously, you were seeing stories that mention you in your inbox.
Now, they are all aggregated in one place.
To access Stories About You:
1. Tap the heart icon in the bottom main menu
2. Select Mentions
3. Choose Stories About You
Please note that eligible accounts will only see Stories About You if they were mentioned in a story at least once in the past 24 hours.
Age limit for viewing Instagram profiles
Since the establishment of Instagram, the platform has been dealing with active users that are underage.
There were several features to prevent the issue but none of them seemed to work.
To put an end to this, Instagram created a feature that allows you to set a minimum age limit for your business account to control who can see your Instagram profile and posts.
So, if you have a professional Instagram account you are in control of the age of your Instagram content’s viewers.
You have 2 options to set up a minimum age limit for your account:
- Set up a global default minimum age
- Set up a country-specific minimum age
Here are the steps to set up a minimum age limit for your Instagram business account:
- Go to your profile and tap the top-right menu icon
- Tap Settings
- Select Business or Creator depending on your profile type
- Tap Minimum Age
In this section, you can tap on the ‘Add’ link and type the minimum age, (for example 18), and tap ‘Done‘ on the top-right. That’s it.
Shortcut to edit business information
Instagram is always trying to make the platform more user-friendly.
To achieve this, Instagram developed a feature to help professional accounts edit their profile in just a few clicks.
This feature works like a shortcut. It allows you to edit your business page, category and contact information directly from your Instagram app.
To start editing your business information on Instagram:
- Go to your professional Instagram account
- Tap Edit Profile
- Under Public Business Information, choose the things you want to edit: Business contact info, Business Category or the Page your Instagram professional account is connected to
- Navigate to Profile Display to choose if you want to hide or display your contact info and category label on your profile
- Tap Done to return to your profile
New Instagram inbox organization
As a business profile, you probably receive tons of messages and notifications on your Instagram app.
To help you organize those messages and control notifications, Instagram created a new inbox organization that will help you sort your messages based on their importance and priority.
The moment you switch to a Professional account, your inbox will be organized in 2 tabs:
- Primary (messages that you like to see first)
- General (messages you like to get back to later)
It will look like this:
Note that all messages you will receive will primarily appear in the Primary tab, but you can always swipe them into the General tab.
New Instagram updates in November 2019
Share Instagram stories to close friends only
To make Instagram a more friend-and-family zone, Instagram introduces a ‘close friends’ list to let you share stories with a more limited group of people.
This feature for more private sharing comes as a response to the rise of Finstagrams, private accounts where your closest friends can only follow you.
Instagram just borrowed the promising feature and after almost 2 years of testing it, it’s live now.
Here is how to share an Instagram story with your close friends only:
First, create a close group.
- Tap to create a story
- Tap the ‘Close friends’ option in the bottom
- In the popup tap ‘Add to list’
- Tap ‘Get started’ on the next screen
- Follow the steps and add the friends you want in the group
Now you have your list and just tap on the ‘Close Friends‘ option in the story when you want to share a story with them.
When you see the green Close Friends indicator at the top of the story, you will know that the story will be viewed only by your closest people. How great is that?
And if you want to edit the ‘Close friends‘ group, just follow these steps:
- Tap on your active story, and choose the option ‘Edit Close Friends List’
- Or open your story and tap on the top green button ‘Close Friends’
- In the list, tap Add or Remove to edit the list.
That’s it. Once done, just close that screen.
TikTok-inspired “Reels” mode to create music videos
It should not come as a surprise, but to keep up with the latest trends, Instagram “borrowed” TikTok’s “Reels” mode.
This feature allows you to create music videos for up to 15-seconds. You can also take audio from other users and use it in your own video.
You can find the feature within Stories, nestled among Boomerang and Super-Zoom modes.
You have 2 options – to record your short clip in silence or choose a song from Instagram’s music library. Enjoy!
New Instagram updates in October 2019
Email checker to avoid phishing scams
In the era of endangered cybersecurity, even Instagram cannot stay immune to hacker attacks.
To help prevent phishing attacks, Instagram introduced a new Email Checker Tool.
This feature is developed to help users spot if the email they receive was sent by Facebook or it is a phishing attempt.
You can find your emails divided into 2 categories: Security emails and Other.
Now, when you receive an email claiming to be from Instagram/Facebook, this is how you can check if it is valid:
- Open the Instagram app
- Go to Security settings
- Head over to Emails from Instagram option
- Locate the email that was just sent to you
This is a very useful feature, in order to avoid any phishing emails that might request your login details and steal your credentials. Better safe than sorry, right?
Restrict feature to protect against bullying
Young people face a disproportionate amount of online bullying. Instagram is not an exception.
To fight against this rising issue, Instagram developed a Restrict feature, designed to protect your account from unwanted interactions like online bullying.
The goal is to help you quietly protect your account while still keeping an eye on a bully. Once you activate this option, you can never again worry if the bully will swipe left on a comment.
To restrict someone to comment on your posts, navigate through the Privacy tab in Settings where you can set limits and manage interactions with your peers.
Here is how to do this:
- Tap on the top menu icon and tap on ‘Settings’
- Tap on ‘Privacy‘
- Tap on ‘Restricted accounts’
- Search the account in the search field you want to restrict
- Tap ‘Restrict’
To undo this for the restricted accounts, just tap the ‘Unrestrict‘ button on the same screen, next to that account.
Or, there is a direct option to do this more manual. Just visit the accounts you want to restrict. Go to the account profile and tap on the top-left 3 dots, and choose the option ‘Restrict’. Easy as that.
Augmented reality try-on feature to help you try how a product will look like on you
Finally some great news for the brands that sell their products directly on Instagram.
Instagram announced an augmented reality try-on feature to help shoppers preview how different products will look on their faces before they buy them.
View this post on Instagram
Wondering how @suedebrooks found her new favorite shade from @maccosmetics? She used @instagram Shopping’s #VirtualTryOn feature, powered by Spark AR, and met her match without stepping foot in a store! Watch our Stories to see how other brands are using this feature and let us know in the comments what products you’re excited to try on in the future with #ARShopping. 👇✨
Initially, this feature will be dedicated to the cosmetics brands (like the use case above) that sell their products on Instagram, but it will become available for more products over time.
We look forward to it.
Threads – Instagram’s new direct messaging app
Over the years, Instagram was always trying to level up Snapchat when it comes to connecting with people you care about – from sharing everyday moments on Stories to visual messages on Direct.
But there was always some private space missing.
The new Instagram feature – Threads seems like the answer to this.
This is a new way to message with close friends in a dedicated and private space.
It allows you to share photos and videos with a smaller circle of friends and help you stay more connected with them throughout the day.
To customize the experience around the people who matter the most for you (especially if you don’t have the time to send a photo or have a chat), you can choose a Status option that can show your close friends what are you up to.
New Product Launch sticker in Instagram Stories
Instagram is always creative in engaging users and building excitement.
Recently, Instagram announced a new sticker for the Instagram stories, and it named it Product launch sticker.
The goal is to provide marketers with the ability to announce new upcoming products and gather an initial audience that might be interested in their new product.
Here is how this sticker appears in the story:
So, the idea is to allow marketers to post an Instagram story with the launch sticker that followers can click on it and set up to receive a reminder in their Instagram profile once the product is launched – on the date when the sticker was initially set to finish.
New Instagram updates in September 2019
Organic shopping posts that serve like feed ads
Instagram has been enhancing shopping-related functions in recent years. The strategy was successful, with more than 130 million (wow!) accounts tapping Instagram shopping posts each month.
To provide users with a richer shopping experience, Instagram starts testing the ability to include existing organic shopping posts as ads in the news feed.
Advertisers can create their ads in the Ads Manager. The audiences who will see this ad in their Instagram feed and click on it will be directed to the product description page on Instagram, where they can go to the purchase page on the brand’s mobile site.
New Instagram updates in August 2019
Instagram creator studio to manage your account
Finally! Instagram made it easier than ever to manage your account.
You can now use Instagram Creators Studio to schedule Instagram posts and manage analytics directly from your PC.
It will save you plenty of time and effort because everything you need to maintain your Instagram profile will be a click away.
To start, access Instagram Creators Studio from Facebook Creators Studio.
Have in mind the requirements:
- You need to have administrative access to an Instagram account and Facebook page
- You need a professional Instagram account
So, if you are ready with these requirements, go ahead access the Facebook Creator Studio first.
From there, you can go to the Instagram creator Studio by connecting your Instagram account.
Once you are all set up, here is what you can do with Creator Studio:
- You have access to all Instagram content (videos, photos, carousels, stories, IGTV) and you can view each post’s performance. You can also create posts for the Instagram feed and IGTV posts and deliver them by specifying the date and time.
- You will have all the insights needed to learn more about your followers and the actions they are performing and even identify your top followers
- Manage every message you get from one inbox
Now, I will show you the steps for one of the most useful features in the Creator Studio for Instagram.
- To start, click on the top left button ‘Create Post‘ and choose ‘Instagram Feed‘
- Write the post caption and upload content (photos or videos)
- Click on the dropdown button beside Publish in the bottom right corner and set the post schedule details
- Click ‘Publish‘
This is a very simple and useful tool that allows you to post and manage Instagram directly from your PC.
Make sure to try it 🙂
New Instagram updates in July 2019
Join a conversation using a chat sticker
Back to basics.
When Instagram wasn’t just a tool for brands and influencers to grow their followers, it was a place where friends shared content with each other and chatted about things they like.
To bring this back, a chat sticker has been added to Stories, called Chat Sticker.
It’s the first time we see such functionality as part of a social media platform. And it seems like this Instagram story update will bring users chats to a higher level.
It works like this: When your audience taps the sticker on your story’s content, you can talk with them in the chat room created via DM.
Although the feature was initially developed for private Instagram accounts, brands (especially in the e-commerce industry) found a way to use this tool and start a conversation with their fans.
It seems like they are also enjoying the benefits of it.
This is a great option for D2C – direct to consumer brands who want to immediately engage with a small but private group of users or customers and chat directly about a product feature, current campaign, ask them about a question directly, send them a selfie with the product, etc.
Here is how to use it. Just follow these steps:
- Go ahead and add a new Story and tap the top sticker icon
- Look for the Chat sticker in the list and tap on it
- It will appear over your story, where you can tap to edit the Chat title
- Once you are done just Publish the story
So, when your followers can see the story and join the discussion.
As a publisher of the Story, you can see who requested to be a part of the chat by following the steps:
- Open your active story and tap on the viewers’ avatars at the bottom left of the story.
- Tap Add to Chat button to approve the requests
- A message chat editor will appear. This is the place where you can start the chat
Please note that on this screen you can add more people or use the options to leave the chat or remove somebody from the chat.
Here is where you can do this:
- In the chat, just tap the top right info icon
- A settings screen will appear where you will be able to leave the chat, add more people or set other settings for the chat.
Updated ban policies and pre-ban warnings
To hold people accountable for what they are posting on Instagram, Facebook announced that accounts that have a certain percentage of the offending content will be disabled.
Accounts that post content that includes nudity and pornography, bullying and harassment, hate speech, drug sales, and counter-terrorism policies will be the first ones to be removed.
The goal is to improve Instagram policies and keep it a safe and supportive place for sharing your most important moments.
In case your account is at risk of being disabled, you will be notified.
If your account is removed by error, you can dispute, and Facebook will restore your Instagram account with deleting its record.
New Instagram updates in June 2019
Introducing ads in Explore to help advertisers reach new people
Instagram users like to connect with brands.
This is what makes Explore such a great place to find new products, businesses, creators, etc. that you don’t usually follow, but are relevant to your interests.
To help advertisers reach new audiences who are exploring something new Instagram decided to bring ads to Explorer.
This seems like the golden ticket for advertisers because they can easily extend their campaigns using automatic placements with a simple opt-in to reach audiences in Explore.
As for the users, after tapping on a photo or video in Explore, they will begin to see ads as part of their browsing experience just like in the main feed.
Don’t worry. As usual, you will have control over the ads you see.
Horizontal video is now available on IGTV
You are probably familiar with IGTV, a video application that allows you to create and view long-form videos.
Initially, only vertical videos were supported, but Instagram announced that horizontal videos would also be supported.
This video format option comes after receiving feedback from many creators and viewers. It seems that they wanted the horizontal upload format because it’s simpler and they are used to it.
Same here. I am used to watching videos on a horizontal screen. What about you?
Advertising with the creator’s content
For businesses that want to share their brand story from the creator’s point of view and use that authentic content in their ad strategies, Branded Content Ads feature is their chance of a lifetime.
This option gives businesses the opportunity to advertise through the creators’ profiles and reach new audiences.
With the creator’s permission, advertisers have the ability to promote their organic branded content posts in the creator’s Instagram feed or Stories.
Here is how advertisers and creators can start with Branded Content partnership:
Advertisers can use this feature by permitting the creators to tag their Business in their branded content Feed posts or Stories.
Once the creator has tagged your business in a branded content post and given permission to promote it, you can use this post to set up a campaign in Ads Manager.
On the other hand, Creators on Instagram can now authorize businesses to promote their organic branded content Feed and Stories posts as ads on Instagram.
To allow this option, they should give their approval for feed posts and stories that are already published or created from scratch.
Creators can choose the Advanced Settings option to tag Business Partner and allow them to promote the post.
If you are up for it, check out Instagram’s official information page to get more details on how to get the most value from this feature.
New Instagram updates in May 2019
This year’s Facebook Developer conference f8 has brought tons of new updates of the Instagram and the overall Facebook apps family.
Here are few of the major updates for Instagram and if you want to read all the updates click here.
Instagram feature that lets you shop from creators
This is a huge advancement of how the Instagram platform was used by creators to earn money from brands.
Influencer advertising and sponsored posts have definitely become a cash cow for the platform.
But, till now most of the creators were referring to the products they were selling to their inbox or to the brands’ websites.
This process is obviously not efficient, tracking the sales attribution can be challenging and the few additional clicks impact to lower conversion rates.
Therefore, the new shopping options for the creator profiles will help influencers sell more.
This option works the same as the checkpoint option that was introduced a few months ago.
The creators will be able to tag their photos with the actual product information that they are promoting and have a direct checkout link so their followers can immediately buy it.
The feature is currently in a roll-out phase and it will start appearing for some creators in the coming weeks. Don’t forget to bookmark this feature.
Here are some of the creators in the initial test phase:
New donation sticker
With this sticker, Instagram is enabling you to start a fundraising campaign that will help you collect funds via Instagram stories.
Here is how to add a donation sticker:
- Tap the sticker icon when creating a story
- Select the nonprofit and customize the name of your fundraiser
- When people see the sticker, they can tap Donate and enter the amount they want to donate
- By swiping up, you can see the donations by usernames and amounts,
Please note that according to Instagram, 100% of the funds you raise, will go to the nonprofit and will be available in the US with plans to expand the functionality globally.
New camera mode
This is a big change in how we post on Instagram.
With the new camera, you will no longer need to upload a photo or video but you can use the creator tools such as text, stickers or the drawing options to express yourself.
New Instagram updates in April 2019
Add paragraph space in Instagram captions
Your caption editing nightmare is finally over.
Instagram has enabled the ‘Return’ option in your iPhone keyboard that will allow you to add as many spaces you want while directly typing your photo caption in the Instagram app.
To do this, just type the caption and tap on the numbers keystroke (shown in the image above).
Once the numbers keyboard appears you will see the Return keystroke. Tap on it once or twice to get paragraph space and continue typing the rest of your caption.
New Instagram updates in March 2019
New marketing tools for Influencers
According to Vogue, on a journalist breakfast in New York, the Instagram team has introduced new tools for influencer marketing in their platform.
These new changes in making the platform more influencer friendly are in line with the growth of this industry. Influencer marketing is projected to reach $1.7 billion in revenue this year and sponsored posts.
Here are some of the announced tools:
- Option to promote the influencer sponsored post – until now the posts shared by the influencers reached only their followers. With this new option, the brands can furthermore promote the post of the influencer and reach more people beyond the influencer’s network.
- More analytics for sponsored posts – brands will get tools to view analytics of the sponsored content that an influencer shared. By doing this, brands are protected from misleading screenshots or other manipulation if the results that the influencer activity brought for the brand.
- Expanding the “paid partnership” tag – this means that Instagram
wants to include influencers that do not have a huge following but are very good creators and can help brands reach a relevant, niche audience.
New Instagram profile design
A few months ago, Instagram announced that it was testing new layouts and designs of the Instagram profiles.
The new layout is massively being rollout for the past few days and it looks like that we will start seeing more and more of this new design.
The new change of the design emphasizes the user not their number of followers. And the number of posts is no longer displayed in the profile.
The new change of the design emphasizes the user not their number of followers. And the number of posts is no longer displayed in the profile.
New Instagram updates in January 2019
Share Instagram Stories
Finally, you will be able to share the link of the story to other social networks or amongst your friends.
This option is already rolled out and you can find it by following these steps:
- Publish a story
- Tap on the 3 dots in the right bottom
- Tap ‘Share link to Entire Story’
Promote Instagram Stories with one click
To this date, if you were in the Instagram marketing field and you want to create Instagram story ads, you would probably need to have a desktop, go to your Facebook ad account and from there create the Instagram Story Ads.
But now, Instagram has made the ad’s creation very easy.
You can use your mobile app, only!
If you already have a Facebook Ads account connected with your Facebook Page and thus an Instagram account connect with this Facebook Page, you are good to go.
Here are the steps on how to boost an Instagram story:
- Publish a story
- Tap on the 3 dots in the right bottom
- Tap ‘Promote’
New Countdown Sticker for Instagram Stories
Instagram continues to bring interactions to the story format, and one of the latest features is the release of a Countdown sticker that brands can use to create teasers, share countdown for an event or special discount day that users can share in their stories or set up a reminder.
The Countdown sticker functionality includes an option to customize it with text, color, emojis, and add a specific date.
To access this option, just tap the sticker icon at the top settings bar and click on the Countdown sticker.
How followers can interact with the countdown sticker?
Once you share the story with the countdown sticker, your followers can tap on the arrow in the corner of the sticker and set up a reminder or share it with their Instagram stories.
And the coolest feature is that when the countdown ends everybody that saved the remainder will receive a notification as a direct message.
If you see this feature from a social media marketing perspective, it seems like an interesting opt-in option that can help you understand who is strongly interested in the campaign you are launching.
Having the reminder option gives you an additional trigger about the intent of the followers in their strong interaction with your brand.
New Questions sticker for Instagram Stories
This is not the newest feature but it is good to consider it when planning your Instagram campaigns.
Similar to the Countdown sticker, Instagram is releasing complex functionalities in the Stories feature in order to enhance the interactions with followers in a totally new and different way.
The new Questions sticker can do this and much more.
So what is the Questions sticker?
It is an option to ask a question in a story and people that view it can respond and write their answers.
How to view the answers?
Just open your story and swipe up. In the viewers’ section, you can see the username who answered and his/her response.
Once you view the answers you can share them in your story by taping Reply that will open a new screen to take a photo or video and post it in the story with the user’s answer. Please note that this functionality will not show the username of the person but just their response text.
How to use the Questions sticker?
The main use cases for these stickers vary and you can think about campaigns that boost interaction amongst your followers. Here are some examples:
- Create a survey – for example, you can ask about a product new packaging that you will show in the story and get valuable feedback;
- Enhance interaction in Instagram LIVE – if you run a live video tutorial or some sort of a webinar, the Questions sticker can help you collect questions from the users that you can answer in the live video.
- Incentivize for interaction – use the questions to organize a giveaway or a contest, so you will boost the interaction and reward the most active followers.
Bonus: Let your followers answer with a song:
Recently Instagram enhanced this sticker with a new option to ask a question that requires an answer with a song.
The answers with the songs can be viewed in the same viewers’ section of your story where you can tap and play the song. If you share the favorites in a new story the song will play in the background.
Additionally, new video effects are available in the camera options.
You can go to your camera icon and you can film a video and by using the ‘Music’ options you can add filters that respond to the beats in the song.
Please note: We will continue to update this article, as soon as the newest Instagram updates and features are announced.
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