While some industries have been greatly slowed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for social distancing and practically mandatory stay-at-home measures have made influencer marketing firms more relevant and pertinent than ever. With people stuck at home, there is a bigger demand for new and interesting content on social media platforms – and influencers have been delivering it on Instagram.
We all understand the importance of Instagram with its massive audience reach. In June 2018, the social platform passed 1 billion global active monthly users. It’s projected that by 2023 – in the U.S. alone – active Instagram users will reach nearly 126 million.
As Instagram celebrates its 10-year anniversary in 2020, it’s time to catch up with new developments, features and updates that the app has delivered so far this year. Perhaps none more timely than its newest Reels feature which positions Instagram to subvert and take over the coveted TikTok audience.
New Instagram Updated Tips & Tricky Features
Instagram has evolved since its inception 10 years ago. Now, the platform is one of the most critical influencer marketing channels, in terms of scope of content and influence. And with any quality app, updates must keep up with user behavior.
“As important as delivering interesting, viral content, is understanding all the new features that Instagram has to offer to take your presentation to another level,” explains Eric Dahan, CEO of Open Influence, a Los Angeles-based influencer marketing firm. “Posting new content is one thing, but utilizing the various features in creative ways makes that content more compelling and more likely to be followed.”
New features also make influencers’ lives easier by allowing more control of their content to appeal to a greater audience.
As the calendar turned over to 2020, Instagram continued to upgrade its features.
Top 10 Instagram Updates of 2020
Here are some of our favorite 2020 Instagram features. These represent great opportunities for brands to create valuable content on the platform:
- New Story stickers
- Facebook Shops
- New Story notifications
- Posting to multiple accounts
- The use of Alt text
- IGTV Preview
- The Instagram Dark Mode
- The “suggested unfollow” mode
- The ability to remove followers
- Restriction of accounts
- Age limit authentications
1 – Reels
While TikTok’s worries about being banned in the U.S., Instagram took advantage of the opportunity to snatch this audience with a new feature called Reels, which was rolled out to 50 countries in August.
Reels allows users to create short videos of up to 15 seconds in length set to music and featuring a variety of filters and effects that can make each clip feel like it was produced by a pro.
The goal of Reels is to not only lure in a new audience to Instagram but also keep that audience in the app. There’s now a specific space on the Explore page for Reels where users can vertically scroll through video content endlessly.
While Reels presents a new experience for users, it also offers a new tool for longtime Instagram influencers looking to enhance their brand and deliver themselves in a new format to their built-in audience.
2 – New Story Stickers
With a bevy of new story stickers added this year, users can now easily brand content to better tell a story. These new stickers also make creating content more interactive for the user.
Let’s break the new stickers down:
- Food orders sticker
Help showcase your local eatery by adding this sticker whereby users can now tap the sticker to order your restaurant’s food directly from your partner’s website.
- Gift cards sticker
And like the food sticker, you can promote your partner’s business with a gift card sticker that followers can tap and instantly buy gift cards. Another easy, new way to present a direct call to action.
- Challenge sticker
Bored at home, online challenges have become a fun way to pass the time. Using this story sticker allows the user to join challenges and show off their participation while also encouraging others to follow their lead.
- Donation sticker
The user can show support for a nonprofit organization and encourage followers to donate to it. This sticker has been extremely useful to raise money for social causes this year.
- DM Me sticker
In hopes of gaining more personal interactions, this direct message – or “DM Me” sticker connects the user to their audience immediately.
- Stay home sticker
The platform reinforced the need to stay home by bumping the stories with this sticker to the top of a user’s story feed.
- Support small business sticker
Never has it been as important to buy local and support small businesses. This sticker tags any business on Instagram which will show your story first in the feed.
3 – Facebook Shops
Facebook recently gave businesses another amazing opportunity to grow their business without ever leaving the Facebook or Instagram apps with the release of Facebook Shops.
With this platform, a business can launch an online store with their products. Like any offline catalogue, users can browse, share, and purchase favorite products all on the app.
The Shops feature is a huge tool for small and big businesses alike. Shops are fully customizable – from the cover shot to the colors to the featured products.
4 – New Story notifications
On Instagram, it has become a habit to repost the stories in which you’ve been tagged. It’s now easier than ever to keep up with your story mentions, even if you don’t follow the person that tagged you. Just head over to your activity and you’ll see every single mention, making the process easy and straightforward.
5 – Posting to multiple accounts
Many Instagram users have multiple accounts. Now, you can post the same type of content to multiple accounts with just a swipe. This can be a time saver if varying content isn’t your goal.
6 – New Alt text option
Alt text at its core helps those with sight limitations to get more out of Instagram by being able to read more of what the images contain.
Alt text may also be a beneficial boon to SEO by using keywords in the text that accompanies your imagery. Think of keywords as the more popular hashtag likely associated with the content you’re posting.
This new feature is simple to use. Just click on “advanced setting” when posting a picture and under “accessibility” find the prompt to “write alt text”. Off you go!
7 – IGTV Preview
In the past, in-feed videos were limited to 60 seconds. Now the platform is treating longer-form video content like a regular post. Longer video posts will begin with a 60-second preview and will then push viewers toward the full version on IGTV.
8 – Instagram Dark Mode
A dark mode option has long been overdue for Instagram. This feature greatly helps battery life on your device while also offering an option for those users that find a dark theme easier on the eyes. It’s an overall win!
9 – Suggested “unfollow”
Users are experiencing influencer fatigue, and have taken the task to unclutter accounts that no longer serve a purpose. This new feature finds the accounts you interact with the least with. These then become “suggested unfollows” and allow you to clean up some clutter in one go.
10 – Removing followers
In the past, it was clunky and a little cumbersome to remove followers which took several steps. At times, users were resorted to blocking. Now, you can access your follower list and see a “remove” button. One-click and that follower is gone!
11 – Restricting accounts & Age Restrictions
Have you ever wanted to see less content from a person, but do not want to block nor unfollow them? Now, you can easily restrict their content and even make their comments on your posts invisible to everyone else.
Depending on your content, you may feel uncomfortable allowing users of all ages to have access to your account. Certain brands may also want to play it safe (think alcohol or cbd) and hide their profile from the eyes of minors. This is when the minimum age feature comes in.
In an obviously highly unusual year, Instagram has been moving forward and tries to keep up with the changing needs of its users. Wonder what’s next? Check out our global influencer marketing agency blog and never miss any news!