The Best New Updates on Instagram It’s been an incredibly busy year thus far, and while our “new normal” looks wildly different from what we anticipated before this year began, we should also note how significantly the social media environment has evolved.
There are so many new features that have been added to various platforms, many of which are aimed at fostering authenticity and diversity.Then there are all the upgrades to the interface, algorithms, and new features that add functionality.
All businesses and marketers should be aware of three major Instagram developments this month: the extended rollout of Instagram Reels, the eradication of bot accounts, and the trial display of Stories on one Page.
Let’s take a look at each one.
Instagram Reels is Here
Last month, we let you know that Instagram reels was starting to roll out. Instagram reels is now here, and has rolled out to around 50 different regions. Instagram scaled the new feature up quickly, anticipating high demand for it.
As a quick reminder: Instagram Reels is their TikTok lookalike feature, which allows users to create short, fifteen-second long videos set to background music.
With some users growing wary of TikTok due to potential security issues, this could be a great way for Instagram to snag some extra usage.
Brands should pay attention to this, and look for opportunities to use Reels, especially in fun Stories. This can give you a way to create new, quirky content that your audience will love.
And if you need any inspiration, simply turn to TikTok to see how brands are using the platform; that should give you all the inspiration needed here.
When in doubt, try to incorporate humor or an inspirational vibe. Picking the right music is everything!
To create Reels content, simply head to your native, in-app Instagram camera (aka through Stories). Search for a song through their database, which you can safely use free for commercial use in your on-platform content.
You can then add AR effects and filters, set up a timer and content down, and record! You can sync up previous clips and everything, and speed up or slow down the video as you see fit.
New Crackdown on Bots
Instagram and Facebook have both been looking to reduce and ideally shutdown fake accounts for awhile. Instagram has taken new steps to do this, preventing the further creation of bot accounts with a brand new review and ID process.
Here’s what this means: If they detect a “pattern of potential inauthentic behavior,” they’ll be asking people to confirm the identity of their account.
The “pattern of potential inauthentic behavior” might include noticing that someone’s followers are almost entirely in a different country than what their location is marked as, signs of automation, or the mass creation of accounts. “Coordinated inauthentic behavior” will also be flagged, which has been particularly common in political and hate group landscapes recently.
If an account is flagged, Instagram will ask the account holder to confirm who they are. Once this is verified with an ID, their account will resume as normal. ID images are deleted 30 days after the review is complete, and will not be shared on an individual’s profile.
If accounts choose not to confirm their info, it may be disabled or end up getting hit with reduced reach.
While many of our readers here don’t need to worry about creating fraudulent accounts themselves, but we want to reiterate again that you never want to purchase likes or followers on Instagram (or Facebook, for that matter). When you’re buying followers, you’re almost certainly getting follows from bot accounts.
Eventually, bot accounts are shut down, so you will have wasted your money, and Instagram has strict policies against it. And, in the midst of it all, it will have driven down your engagement rates and hurt your reach.
In Testing: All Stories on One In-App Page
Stories have become a massive feature on Instagram, and for some, it’s the prime focus of the app. Most users and brands share more content on Stories than in their feed, which is pretty astonishing considering that Stories content can disappear after 24 hours unless saved as a highlight.
Likely because of the popularity of this feature, Instagram has been spotted testing a new format. This would show all Stories available to view in one, giant block.
We knew Stories was already a full-screen and immersive feature; this just seems to make it even more so.
Instagram has confirmed to TechCrunch that this testing is only taking place on a small number of accounts right now, and that they’re simply assessing user response.
If this tested format does eventually roll out to all users and not just on an “in-testing” basis, it only reinforces the importance for brands to continually create and share Stories that their audience will love.
Take plenty of time to factor this into your social content calendar and strategy, because it now matters more than ever.
Instagram marketing is still holding strong as a high-engaging and potentially high-selling platform. Even as TikTok climbs in popularity, Instagram should still be a core part of your social content strategy.
It offers more frequent reach to a wider audience base, as well as the opportunity to share more information and sell products at the same time.
Make sure that you aren’t neglecting your Instagram marketing, especially now during COVID when plenty of users are online more while they’re stuck at home.
In the meantime, enjoy creating some new Reels content for your followers, and stick with white-hat marketing practices.
We’ll keep you updated on any more new exciting changes or features coming your way, so make sure you check back in next month!
Top Instagram Updates 2020 Edition
This month’s Instagram updates are particularly exciting, especially since we’re getting a few long-awaited features we’ve known about for a little while now.
Instagram has announced or rolled out five main new features that will impact brands and users alike.
The biggest focus is around Instagram’s growing eCommerce features, but we’ve also got new fundraising and TikTok-like features rolling out as we speak.
All of these features can improve the user experience and give you new ways to market to (and sell to) your customers. So let’s dive in and take a close look at each one.
Instagram Shop Is Now in Public Testing
Instagram Shop is a new tab on the mobile app, which is now being rolled out into public testing for the first time. Right now, the testing is only in the US, but it will be expanded globally within a few weeks.
Instagram has designed this page to help users discover products and brands on-platform.
Users can shop from different collections, which they can purchase in-app on Instagram without having to leave the app itself.
On this page, users will see personalized recommendations based on the brands that they currently follow. They’ll also see collections that have been curated by Instagram’s own shop team, which is designed to promote “emerging businesses and the creators behind them.”
It will be interesting to see how this particular feature is monetized in the future with sponsored campaigns.
Businesses have a chance to be featured here organically, which is something that all brands selling eCommerce products should take note of.
Right now, there’s no information on how to give themselves an edge against competitors aside from consistently tagging products in your content (it’s partially a numbers game, after all!) and creating collections of products in your shop.
High-engagement on a product likely helps, so do what you can to tag products in high-engaging posts for best results.
Facebook Pay is Now Available
Facebook Pay was announced last year, but has started rolling out in the US over the past week or so.
Facebook Pay is designed to be an instant-pay option, similar to Amazon Pay or PayPal checkouts that some users are already familiar with.
It’s a highly secure and seamless payment option, allowing users to make purchases and donations more easily within the Facebook app family.
Facebook is assuring people that there is strong anti-fraud monitoring, and you can add either unique PINs or options like Touch or Face ID for increased security.
This is good news, because we want users to feel comfortable taking advantage of the convenience of Facebook Pay on Instagram, where users can now utilize this option to speed up the checkout process.
Customers are protected through Facebook Pay, too; all eligible products purchased through the Instagram checkout with Facebook Pay will provide Purchase Protection for customers. Purchase Protection grants refunds in cases of items not being received, damaged items, or items not appearing as promised.
Instagram Changes Commerce Eligibility Rules
Late last month, Instagram announced that there is an upcoming change in commerce eligibility requirements, which will grant access to Instagram Shopping to more types of businesses.
This will include creators (aka influencers) on the platform, so that they can better connect with shoppers and more in-app sales can take place. These changes took place on July 9th.
These requirements that grant eligibility are designed to increase transparency.
Businesses can only tag products on Instagram from a single website that they sell and own, which prevents users from “selling” products they don’t actually own or have access to.
If a business is not approved for Instagram Shopping for whatever reason, they’ll be given a specific reason so they can rectify it and reapply if they choose.
All existing Shopping businesses will receive an in-app notification over the next few weeks (if they haven’t already) if any steps are needed for compliance.
This is great news for small businesses branching out into eCommerce selling.
Even small businesses that are getting up and running (like those that you’d see on Etsy, for example) can now take advantage of the platform’s increasing eCommerce features.
Combined with Instagram’s strong organic reach and high engagement rates, this is a winning combination.
New Fundraising Options Available
Over the past few months, we’ve covered quite a few new fundraising features on Instagram. Most of them have been focused on driving sales to businesses during the coronavirus or to give to nonprofits.
Now, we’ve got something a little bit different: Users can fundraise for personal causes, too.
Yep, you read that right. Individual users can now fundraise for themselves. If you’re looking to raise money to help a friend whose home burned down, you can do that.
Instagram has also mentioned that users are trying to raise money on their own to donate directly to COVID-impacted businesses and communities, underfunded teachers, and Black Lives Matter or allyship movements that could use the funding.
To create a Personal Fundraiser, you’ll need to go to “Edit Profile.” If you have the ability to do this, you’ll see the option to “Raise Money.”
You’ll choose a photo for your fundraiser, choose a fundraiser category, and then tell your story for why you’re hoping people will donate.
Enter your information for Stripe, which is the payment processor, and you’re done+.
Fundraisers will last for 30 days, and you can extend them more than once for additional 30-day increments. Note that you must be at least 18 years old to create a fundraiser. Once the fundraiser is over, funds will go straight into your designated bank account.
You’ll be able to see everyone who donates and how much they’re giving, but they can choose to keep their information and name hidden from everyone else if they want to.
Instagram’s Reels Feature Launching Soon
TikTok has been the talk of the town for a while with GenZ and Millennials, but now everyone is paying close attention.
Though the app has incredibly high usage and engagement, it’s also been discovered that there are huge security risks associated with the app, including the fact that it may potentially be spying on users and be vulnerable to hackers.
Fortunately, Instagram is ready to save the day… kind of.
They’ve been working on a TikTok copycat feature for a few months now, which is called “Reels,” and it looks like it will be rolling out soon.
This feature will allow users to create looping video clips lasting 15-seconds long. The video clips will be set to music, just like what you commonly saw in TikTok’s beginning.
Reels will show up in a special space on user profiles, making the feature more distinct than a simple new Story lens and thus more interactive. They’ll also have their own separate section in the Explore tab.
Instagram did this so that they could have a standalone feature within the app, preventing the need for an actual standalone app. This was likely done to increase engagement within the app, making the tool more appealing to users overall.
Businesses will be able to use this feature, too, as it rolls out to them. Think about new ways you can create Reels content that your users will love; Gen Z and Millennial users, in particular, will likely be responsive to this.
Even while the rest of the world feels a little like it’s been permanently shut down for the last few months, social media is one thing that never quite stops moving.
The platforms are aware of this, knowing all too well that in order to keep users happy and engaged (and competitors at bay) that they need to step up their game and keep the new features coming.
Personally, we’re really excited about all five of the new changes that Instagram has shared with us this month, and we hope you are, too!
Make sure you tune in next month to see what’s new then.
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