Instagram turned 11 in 2021, and like any pre-teen, the social media giant is undergoing some serious changes.
Granted, the app launched in 2010 with a photo of founder Kevin Systrom’s dog – which may lead some to believe we haven’t actually come that far – but over a decade later, Instagram now sees 1.4 billion monthly users, 81% use the app to research products and services, 90% of users follow businesses, and 83% say Instagram helps them discover new products and services.
All in all, if your business is not on Instagram, it’s a major red flag.
To help you navigate the app’s newest developments and further optimize these features in your 2022 communications strategy, check out our easy-to-use guide into Instagram’s recent upgrades below.
“Add Yours” Stickers Designed to Make Instagram Stories Go Viral
On November 1, Instagram rolled out a new, interactive “Add Yours” sticker, designed to create viral chains of content through Instagram Stories – and sparked a major opportunity to drive engagement. “Add Yours” is exactly as it sounds; users can add their own Stories to a thread of content based on a certain topic specified by the creator – ex: add on a photo of your favorite vacation destination.
The sticker, designed for collaboration, can also be seen as a way to discover likeminded users and brands. By clicking on the “Add Yours” sticker in someone’s IG Story, users will be able to see everyone who has taken part in the chain, as the topic specific “Add Yours” content will be housed together (similar to the way hashtags keep content together). From there, users and brands can easily connect with one another.
All Instagrammers Gain Access to Story Link Stickers
One of the most profound announcements recently made was the launch of Instagram’s Story link stickers. Introduced in September as a means to replace the “Swipe Up” feature, the stickers were originally rolled out for accounts with over 10k followers. However, in October 2021, Instagram made the Story link stickers available to every single user – a true game changer for small businesses, brands, and content creators worldwide who are now able to benefit from the ability to link their stories directly to external websites to further engage users in their sales funnels, capture email addresses, promote events, etc.
Users Can Now Stir Up Their Instagram Strategy through ‘Collabs‘
“Collab,” another one of Instagram’s newest features, enables users to co-author Instagram Feed Posts and Reels – unlocking an entirely new way to reach untapped audiences. Through “Collabs” anyone can invite a fellow Instagram user to collaborate on a Post/Reel – whether it’s a business or personal profile – and the post will appear on both of the profiles. This way, business, brands, and content creators will be able to share views, likes, and comments – allowing them to leverage and engage with each other’s audiences. Instagram anticipates this new feature will inspire a rise in collaborations, particularly in the realm of educational content, thereby driving positive change.
Instagram Enables Users to Post to Instagram via Desktop
Yet another announcement made by Instagram in October was the option to share photo and video content via desktop computers (Stories and Reels cannot be shared through PCs, yet). For social media managers, entrepreneurs, content creators, and users that regularly their create visual assets through design software on their computers, posting to Instagram from their PCs may become a great way to save time and improve overall efficiency.
Text-To-Speech has Made its Way to Instagram Reels
If you’ve used TikTok in the past year, you’re familiar with the Siri-like robotic voice that converts text to audio – a popular feature now available on Reels. In October, Instagram Reels began rolling out the text-to-speech feature, with two different automated voices to choose from. The new feature is a great way for businesses and content creators to tap into a more creative way of video storytelling through audio that showcases brand personality, highlights product features and benefits, adds humor to videos, allows for tutorials, and more.
Instagram Merges IGTV and Feed Videos
Head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, had hinted at a more “simplified video experience” for months and by merging feed videos and IGTV into a single format, dubbed “Instagram Videos,” Instagram now provides a clearer distinction between regular videos and Reels. To support the change, Instagram added a new Video tab, which replaced the old IGTV tab on a user’s profile. So, what does all of this mean for users? Technically, that things are a bit more streamlined – now there are now four versus five video functionalities on Instagram: Instagram Stories, Instagram Reels, Instagram Video, and Instagram Live.
Businesses Can Find New Customers through Boosted Instagram Posts that Drive Traffic Directly to WhatsApp
Businesses can now connect their WhatsApp business account directly to Instagram by adding a WhatsApp business number to their contact information. This allows brands to boost posts that drive customers to message them directly on WhatsApp. Boosting a post that leads viewers to WhatsApp allows businesses to reach more people through personalized messages. This feature was developed after Instagram noticed businesses were utilizing third-party tools to drive Instagram ads to WhatsApp business accounts.
COMING SOON: Instagram is Developing a Vertical, TikTok-Inspired, Feed for Stories
Instagram is currently working to reconfigure the way users view Stories by shifting Stories into a vertical format (TikTok style). Right now, users browse through Stories by tapping or swiping horizontally – a feature Instagram adopted from Snapchat years ago but has since become outdated. As it stands, swiping vertically feels more natural to most, as it’s how users navigate the mobile web and many other apps. Migrating to a vertical feed also allows Instagram to further adopt its video-first strategy and compete with TikTok. This change will result in a shift away from static posts on Stories as Instagram will prioritize video over photo content through its algorithm.
*NOTE: Instagram is still rolling out some of these updates worldwide, so if you don’t have all of these functionalities yet, sit tight – they’re coming! For more social media updates, subscribe to our newsletter at firstname.lastname@example.org.