Instagram's New Updates and What They Mean for Creators

August 20, 2021

As creators and businesses are busy shifting to the new normal in a post-COVID world, it is interesting to see how Instagram can quickly develop new features to meet major business challenges and help users support their favorite brands. From Reels ads to new Insights, Collab to affiliate shops and badges, the list goes on.

Keeping up with updates is a difficult task — we get that. So, we searched Instagram's latest updates and have shared them in this blog post to (A) save you some work, and (B) help you stay informed and make the best use of tools within Instagram. Let's look at what we found ...

1. Affiliate and New Shops Features

Instagram is a place where users, including creators, talk about products they love and places they've visited.

Taking note of this trend, Instagram issued a statement in June 2021 saying it always wanted to give the creators more room to grow and earn.

So, in the near future, Instagram will start testing “a native affiliate tool that will allow creators to discover new products available on checkout, share them with their followers, and earn commissions for the purchases they drive — all within the Instagram app.”

It’s indeed great news for influencers, as well as affiliate marketers, because they can directly promote and sell through Instagram. The new feature will give their followers a way to buy directly from them, and make it easier for brands to collaborate and reward the creators — all in one place.

Also according to its June 2021 statement, Instagram's affiliate testing will roll out "in the coming months" with a small group of US-based creators and businesses including Sephora, Benefit, MAC, Kopari, and Pat McGrath Labs.

Creators who already have their own product lines will be able to link their shopping websites on their personal profiles in addition to their business profiles. This, says Instagram, will allow creators to display and sell their products directly to their fans.

Instagram has collaborated with four merchandise partners: Bravado/UMG, Fanjoy, Represent, and Spring. So, if you want to set up a shop and add the store link, you'll need to do it through one of these partner platforms.

2. More Earning Opportunities with Badges

Creators are obviously at the center of Instagram's new updates. As we've seen, Instagram is taking a strong stance toward empowering creators; in addition to affiliate commission and stores feature, Instagram is offering badges for hitting certain milestones.

3. Translation of Instagram Stories

Instagram now provides a direct option to translate Stories!

The new translation feature has opened up new ways for more people from different regions, speaking different languages, to engage with their favorite influencers.

Users will find a "See Translation" note in Stories, which they can tap to translate into their preferred language.

4. Add Up to 3 People in Live

From fitness coaches and dancers to makeup artists and chefs, Live helps creators on Instagram keep in touch with fans and connect with more people.

Creators and users can now add up to three people in Live stream to make a total of four participants. This will expand creative opportunities by enabling collaboration with more people.

5. Algorithms

In an effort to debunk longstanding myths about Instagram's algorithms, Adam Mosseri published a blog post discussing how Instagram ranks Stories and Reels. This sparked a fresh wave of interest among people interested in learning more about how Instagram ranks content.

According to Mosseri, Instagram makes educated guesses based on hundreds of thousands of "algorithms, classifiers, and processes," and shows topics that might interest its users and keep them on the app longer.

Based on users' behavior, engagement patterns, and other "signals," Instagram will show content in Explore and Reels. Mosseri said that posts from people users are close to and often interact with will be visible at the top of their (your) Feeds.

6. Calendar Tool

Another update that Instagram rolled out in July 2021 was the new calendar tool.

You can access this in Insights where you choose how you want the data shown. The tool lets you add filters and set a custom date range, which is currently 60 days and will soon be expanded to 90 days.

This update is certainly useful to creators because they can access more past data and better analyze their performance, month by month.

7. Instagram Remix for Reels

Good news for all who use third-party tools for mixing videos: Instagram has released Remix, a tool for mixing Reels videos. Instagram Remix is similar to rival TikTok's Duet.

To Remix a Reel, a user can record or upload a new video alongside an existing Reel and choose the appropriate action.

Note that only new Reels will have Remix enabled automatically — but the good news is, you can manually enable this feature for your existing Reels.

8. Insights for Reels and Live

To make a good business decision, one must be aware of performance. Unlock new potentials through Insights for Reels and Live.

With the help of Reels and Live data, you'll have a better idea of which type of content is gaining more traction for you by giving you more engagement and follows.

9. Collab

Released for testing in select countries, Collab is a new feature that allows you to collaborate and tag other accounts to join your posts and Reels.

You'll send an invite to the collaborator; once that is approved, both accounts will appear in the header of the post or Reel.

The benefit is that both accounts will enjoy shared views and like count, including comment threads.

10. Instagram Reels and IGTV Ads

Instagram Reels are a great way to reach people who don't follow you on Instagram, and the feature's popularity is soaring. Taking note of this, Instagram finally launched Reel ads worldwide after testing in select countries. Reels ads can help businesses reach a larger audience and discover new content that inspires brands and creators.

According to Instagram's June 2021 statement: "Reels ads will be full screen and vertical, similar to ads in Stories, and will appear in between individual Reels. As with regular Reels content, these ads will loop and can be up to 30 seconds. People can comment, like, view, save and share Reels ads."

In addition, ads will be placed on IGTV, where Instagram will "support creators’ investment in IGTV by sharing advertising revenue with them."

Do you want to double down on sales? Sometimes setting up a shop isn't enough. You need a more solid strategy. Read our step-by-step strategy to increase sales on Instagram.

11. New Options to Hide/Enable Like Counts

As of May 26, 2021, Instagram users can choose if they want to make like counts public or not.

In its official announcement, Instagram stated: “We tested hiding like counts to see if it might depressurize people’s experience on Instagram. What we heard from people and experts was that not seeing like counts was beneficial for some, and annoying to others, particularly because people use like counts to get a sense for what’s trending or popular.”

We completely support Instagram's decision. While hiding like counts works great for many, most creators actually depend on this for attracting potential clients. For some creators and influencers, more public like counts means more collaboration opportunities because public likes and engagement rate play a pivotal role in influencer marketing.

You can find Instagram's May 26, 2021 announcement here.

12. More Private Browsing Experiences for Young People

In a July 27, 2021 statement, Instagram said that accounts of young Instagrammers under 16 (or in some countries, 18) will be set to private by default.

They have a choice, however, and can switch between private and publicly visible accounts.

Those who already have set their profile to public will spot a “notification highlighting the benefits of a private account” with an instruction about how to do it. Read the full statement here.

Instagram is also limiting advertisers from reaching out to young people.

Why is this important?

If you're a young creator, knowing this might benefit you. For businesses and marketers whose target audience falls within this age bracket, the update can pose new challenges.

More Updates Coming Your Way!

Instagram continues to roll out new updates, and you can count on us to make sure you know about them. We hope the fresh perspectives we bring to you, our readers, will help you do more and reach new heights.

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