Instagram News and Updates Summer 2021

Instagram News and Updates Summer 2021

Find out all the latest Instagram news, updates and announcements for summer 2021.

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3 min read

What’s New With Instagram?

Instagram is always updating its platform and creating new tools for users. The most recent big change was the announcement that the platform ‘is no longer a photo-sharing app’ and will focus the algorithm on videos of all forms - Reels, IGTV and Live.

Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram, has announced in the last few days that the platform is changing and the coming 6 to 12 months will see significant updates. One of them is ‘Recommended’ - a new feature that will display content from accounts the user does not follow on Instagram, to boost the discovery of new content that may be interesting. This update is accompanied by ‘Topics’, which will allow users to choose topics that interest them and which will then inform what will be shown in the feed.

For content creators and brands, this means an extra chance to get discovered and increase numbers on metrics like Reach and Engagement organically. For users, this represents a new avalanche of information and content that may be relevant...or not!

Is Instagram the new TikTok?

Adam's announcement left many users surprised and confused about the future of the platform, as he made it clear that video content will be favoured by the algorithm from now on. With video entertainment apps on the rise - consider TikTok’s phenomenal success last year and the continued growth of YouTube, Instagram is now chasing after lost time implementing a new and improved video experience. What we can expect are updates on what you can do inside Reels, monetization of ‘lives’ and, of course, a larger delivery of IGTVs.

This is a natural and expected evolution of the platform that seeks to include all experiences in one place. As seen five years ago with the release of Stories to compete with Snapchat, history is repeating itself with TikTok.

However, this big change will mean that brands will need to rethink their organic and paid strategies on the platform, seeking to move away from static images and include more dynamic video in their feeds. For many traditional companies, this means having to consider the way content is produced and edited, and for many others, the difficulty will be to explore the creativity and power of adapting the brand’s message.

Instagram Reels as Ads

Speaking of video, now you can use Reels as ads!

After a successful test in select countries, Instagram is launching Reels ads to the world.

Reels ads will be full screen and vertical, similar to ads in Stories, and will appear between individual Reels. As with regular Reels content, these ads will loop and can be up to 30 seconds and people can comment, like, view, save and share them as well.

The new ads format will appear in the most popular places to access Reels content: the Reels tab, Reels in Stories, Reels in Explore and Reels in your feed.

Native Story Captions on the Platform!

Instagram is also rolling out a new accessibility feature that allows you to add captions to Instagram Stories and soon, Instagram Reels. The function appears like a sticker and allows brands and creators to create more inclusive experiences! Plus, it's known that most users use Stories during the day without audio, and having the new caption tool ensures that your message will go through, even on mute.

If you don't have this feature on your profile yet, don't worry! Every new update is released in user batches, and yours will soon be updated!

"Black-owned" Label

The platform has been updated to facilitate the search for stores with black owners, and for this, the new "black-owned" label was launched in the US and brands can add it through the settings to their profile. This tag will be highlighted in the Shopping tab so users can easily find them.

New Functions for Creators and Shopping

We already know that influencer marketing is a huge trend and not going anywhere - we've even talked more about it in our guide to influencer marketing. Aiming to help influencers make a living with the work they do on the platform and strengthen the relationship between them and the brands, Instagram has launched some new features that should be available to everyone soon!

Today, creators can tag products from the brands they work with, or use the Stores if they have their own product line, but in the coming months, the platform will provide a native function that will allow creators to discover new products available at the checkout, share them with their followers and earn commission for the purchases they make - all within the Instagram app.

When people find an affiliate post from a creator featuring a branded product, they'll see ‘eligible for commission’ at the top of the post, so it's clear that their purchases help support that creator.

This means users will be able to buy directly from influencers they trust, and brands have a new way of partnering and rewarding creators. Affiliate will test a small group of US-based creators and companies, including Benefit, Kopari, MAC, Pat McGrath Labs and Sephora, and will expand to more partners in the future.

Another important innovation is that Instagram is now allowing Stores to be linked to personal profiles, in addition to commercial profiles - especially for influencers who want to sell merchandise, or even for small businesses. This functionality is already available worldwide.

If you’d like to learn more about how Eastside Co can help your social media strategy, get in touch for a chat with our specialists!

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