2020 hasn’t been the only thing we needed to adjust to these months. Instagram has been going through some drastic changes since the summer of ‘20, and there are mixed feelings around that. Updates keep on rolling in gradually and Instagram is testing new layouts, new features, and new functionalities of what the updated Instagram will look like in the future.
You might not have these just yet, but it’s very likely you’ll see these updates soon. If you feel impatient and want to try it out now, try to reinstall your app, log in and out, switch to the creator account and back, or simply update your app if you can.
Now that you (hopefully) have the newest version of Instagram, let’s dive into all the new updates and talk about how you can navigate it and possibly take advantage of it to boost your brand and business.
One of the biggest updates that we didn’t see coming (or did we?)! Instagram has been testing several layouts but one that most people have and been noticing is when you’re trying to go to your likes but end up shopping. You can browse the shops of your followers, other relevant accounts, but also choose from Editors’ Picks, or Explore Guides.
Another big change is that ‘Add button’ has been moved to the top right corner (together with likes). Once you click on to add, you have an option to choose from post, story, reels, and live. This is the main spot from where you can add a new story, but it still works if you just long-press your circle image in the top left corner on the home page for adding a story.
This time, instead of the usual ‘Add button’ in the middle of your bottom menu, there is a ‘Reels button’. This one is a big change! Instagram integrating the Reels button into its main home page means that it is a platform’s new favorite! Anyway, once you go to the Reels button, you can browse your follower’s and similar accounts Reels.
The last thing to mention under layout would be your profile and additional icons on there. It used to be only a grid, IGTV (if you had some videos), and posts that you’re tagged in. Nowadays, you can add additional icons like Reels, Shop, and Guides if you upload any of those. Exciting times!
There is a full article on Reels that you can read about, but I have to mention it since it started all the updates in the first place. Since the moment Reels have been released, everything changed! As with any new feature that Instagram launches, a new feature means favoring that kind of content, so it can get to more people and Instagram can see how people react to it. Launching Reels meant decreased reach on static posts, and all the attention turned to Reels content. Not ideal, but what it really says is: jump on that train now while it’s starting off because it can only benefit you and boost your content.
In case you haven’t familiarized yourself with Reels yet, I’m talking about short engaging videos that you can create to bring fun elements and value at the same time, and it’s similar to TikTok.
Instagram wants to make it easier for people to find products and support small businesses by incorporating the Shop icon. Promoting products is very easy and you can shop within the US (for now) without even having to leave the app. Adding this feature helps brands tag their products directly in posts, stories, IGTV, or Reels, and people can easily click on the product and be redirected to IG Shop. It also helps to discover new products through the main navigation bar’s Shop shortcut where you can browse products and even create a wishlist.
Launching IG Shop is a direct response to the COVID-19 pandemic and small businesses being affected. After adding Facebook Shops, it was an expected step to connect it with Instagram where more features like food delivery and gift cards story stickers came into play. This move is changing how e-commerce shopping looks like and it allows small businesses to use Instagram for promoting their brand and products. Visual showcasing products are great for driving more sales and it seems like one of Instagram’s main focuses for the future will be becoming even more e-commerce-friendly.
One of the newest features on Instagram is the ability to create guides. This an amazing way how to showcase some of your previous content and add value to your audience. You can create a guide for places you’ve been to, products that you like, and bring some of your older posts in front of more people.
Gather posts with the same or similar topic and create a guide, so your audience can easily access it and get tips on one specific topic or place. It’s like a blog post with a title and headlines, but the text is already written with each picture.
Length & Quality of your Posts
Okay, this might not be as big of news BUT one of the biggest trends that we’ve seen on Instagram in 2020 was brands taking advantage of micro-blogging and connecting with their audience. People want content that is relatable and authentic, and it prompts them to engage with your post.
According to research by Fohr, the average caption length has more than doubled since 2016, going from 142 characters to a predicted 405 characters in 2021! It also shows that the longer the caption, the higher the engagement rate. Of course, it depends on what kind of brand you have and it doesn’t need to be all about long captions but definitely keep this statistic in mind to make it even more authentic and on-brand.
Lastly, when we’re talking about posts, the metrics that you should look at has changed in terms of what’s important to track. It’s not as much about the number of likes and followers, but rather focus on saves, shares, comments, and engagement rate. It’s more about the overall engagement around your brand than just numbers of followers. Quality over quantity. Therefore, when you’re creating content and graphic, make it interesting and valuable, so people will want to share it with their community or save it for later.
2020 and worldwide pandemics brought a lot of challenges but also innovations within social media. Instagram has been going through big changes and since short engaging videos Reels were launched, Instagram has been working on ways to connect creators with their audience but also the ways to support their small businesses.
Instagram has been testing a new layout of the app, they launched Instagram Shops to make it easier for people to discover products they could be interested in, added a Reels browse page to underline the importance of the video, and added Guides to categorize content based on topics. The motto for 2020 was quality over quantity and that goes for both content but also the community that you have on there.
How do you like new Instagram updates and layouts? Any favorite new features you love to use?