Notwithstanding that this year was tough, Instagram rolled out many features that opened new opportunities for brands, businesses and regular users alike. Reels, Guides, and IGTV Monetisation are just a few to name.
In this blog, let’s round-up together which new features Instagram has rolled out in 2020.
Technically, Instagram started to test Reels in 2019, but this year the feature became available to larger audiences in the US, some European countries, Australia and India.
Reels is about the new way of creating and discovering short entertaining videos, Instagram claims. Now, if you post such a video in a public Instagram account, many other users are able to find you.
The service enables you to shoot and edit 15-second videos on Instagram. You can apply various AR effects, use audio from an Instagram music library or use original backtracks, and change the speed of your clip. This is somewhat similar to Instagram Stories, but unlike them, Reels has more advanced editing features.
Instagram Guides are a totally new feature on Instagram launched this year. It was initially available for a limited number of users but recently, Instagram has expanded the Guide functionality to all Instagrammers.
Instagram Guides are basically articles within Instagram written to give users a tool of useful and quality content using blog posts across Instagram.
You can find Guides in the tab section on the main page of accounts which have already started using the feature.
If you’re a creator, business owner or an influencer, Guides are a great opportunity to improve your Instagram marketing and engagement. Content most suitable for Guides is recommendations, useful tips, opinion, reviews and alike.
Instagram’s CEO Adam Mosseri announced the keyword search launch in a very short announcement on his Twitter.
So far, the update isn’t available worldwide and functions only in English but it will be soon expanded to more countries and languages.
Such an update means that Instagram analyses what our photos and even captions have, which objects and keywords we use in them. Just like Google.
With the keyword search, you can search for keywords or keyphrases (not just usernames and hashtags as it used to be) and get results of the posts that have the keyword, even if they don’t contain the hashtag.
This feature might be a game-changer for Instagram marketing since this will allow users to optimise their profiles for Instagram ‘SEO’ like they do with their websites and blogs on the Internet and get discovered by more users.
Who knows, maybe this will lead us to Instagram PPC ads later?
Messaging and Communication Updates
Facebook announced bringing the best Messenger features to Instagram by connecting the Messenger app and Instagram Direct. This update will allow users to communicate across these two apps without the need to download another app if they already have either Instagram or Messenger on their smartphones.
Together with the Messenger and Instagram Direct integration, we saw another messaging update this year — Facebook Messenger Rooms. The update implies users now can create and join group calls of up to 50 users on Instagram.
Watch Together is yet another feature that aims to streamline your communication experience on Instagram. With Watch Together, you and your friends can watch IGTV, Reels, and other videos online on a video chat.
Facebook and Instagram Shops
Major updates this year concern eCommerce, and the biggest move is Facebook Shops.
The name might sound confusing though: the Facebook Shops feature lets businesses develop online stores on Facebook and Instagram alike. This feature also allows small business and shop owners to tag products during live broadcasts on Instagram, but we’ll touch on this a bit later.
Instagram Shop in turn unlocks a whole new shopping experience on Instagram.
The Shop tab is now on the Explore tab and on the main page of an account.
According to Facebook’s press release, you’ll be able to ‘browse selections from your favourite brands and creators, filter by categories like beauty and home, and purchase the looks you love all in one place.’
Other eCommerce Instagram updates touch on IGTV, Reels and influencer shopping.
Businesses and creators can tag their products when they create Reels and IGTV. So, when users watch a Reel or an IGTV video, they can tap a ‘View Products‘ button to buy, save, or just learn more about the featured products.
With the new Commerce Eligibility Requirements, more types of businesses (including creators) can now access Instagram Shopping.
This year, Instagram rolled out a monetisation program for IGTV creators thus motivating them to make more content for the Instagram TV. Creators will be able to make revenue with their content and share more ideas on IGTV.
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 last up to 15 seconds.
Instagram will soon allow creators and brands to sell products from their Facebook Shop or a catalogue right on the live broadcasts. All you will need to do to sell online is to tag your product before starting a live stream, and the products will be shown at the bottom of the video.
Your viewers can tap on them to learn more or buy.
This is a useful update for small businesses and big brands alike: now users will be able to ask questions about the products and get answers from a seller/manufacturer real-time!
And sellers can use this opportunity for making live demos of their products selling them right away, without making users go to third-party websites and stores.
Facebook Rights Manager on Instagram
Facebook’s Rights Manager is a tool that helps you find any of your copyrighted images that you’ve submitted for protection on the platform and notifies you if there was a copyright violation.
Now, the tool is extended to Instagram, as well.
Another great messaging update from Instagram realised this year is the option to make your messages vanish some time after you or a user you’re dming with sending it.
This feature is called Vanish Mode: it makes your messages disappear after you leave the chat.
Note that only people who follow each other on Instagram can use the Vanish Mode in direct chats.
To turn on the Vanish Mode, swipe up in an existing chat thread, and you’re automatically in the Vanish Mode. To return to a regular chat, swipe up again.
New ‘Suggested Posts’ feature after ‘You’re All Caught Up’
A few years ago, Instagram rolled up the ‘You’re All Caught Up’ feature to help users avoid endless feed scrolling. The feature showed that a user has seen all content from his feed.
Suggested Posts feature’s goal, however, is not just to increase user engagement and time spent on the app but also to give advertisers a new space to show more ads.
Automated IGTV Captions
With many users choosing to watch videos with the sound off, Instagram decides to roll out automatic closed captions on IGTV videos.
When a creator uploads a video to IGTV, users will be able to choose ‘auto-generated captions’, which will only be visible when the video is being watched sound off. For now, the feature is available in 16 languages, but this number will grow later on.
Instagram has rolled out an update that allows users to pin comments on a certain post.
By doing this, brands, social media managers or influencers can highlight a relevant comment either their own or left by their follower and thus get rid of spammy comments.
To pin a comment, swipe to the left, and tap on the pin icon.
Instagram Direct from Desktop
The long-awaited update brands and social media managers have been waiting for is finally rolled out.
Instagram’s direct messages are now available on the desktop version of Instagram.
Instagram badges work similarly to YouTube Super Chat — viewer buys a badge during the live broadcast and their comment stands out in the comments section. Thus viewers help their favourite creators monetise the content.
Currently, Instagram is working on expanding Instagram badges in the US, but soon they will be available in France, Italy, Spain, UK, Germany, Brazil, Mexico, Turkey, Australia, and Japan.
Badges will be available in 3 different levels, based on the number of hearts they have. Viewers can buy one heart for $0.99, two for $1.99, or 3 for $4.99. Viewers will only be able to buy one badge during a live video.
Supporting small businesses stickers on Instagram
Now you can not only add a sticker to your stories but also add Gift Cards, Order Food or Donate options as clickable buttons on your Instagram account next to the Contact button.
The main goal of these updates is to help small businesses during these hard times and also customers to streamline the buying experience.
The Donation sticker has a different purpose, however. It is to help nonprofit organizations increase their fundraising campaign awareness by asking supporters and followers to donate.
Brands Collabs Manager
Branded content allows creators and influencers to monetise their Instagram accounts and helps businesses reach the right audience.
To make this possible for both sides, Facebook launched Brand Collabs Manager that is to help creators connect with brands which are looking to advertise their products and services.
Influencers and creators can apply to be on the platform, but their accounts need to meet some specific criteria.
These are probably not every update Instagram rolled out this year. If you know more, let us know in comments!