Everything changed this year, including the way we interact with social media. A slew of new Instagram features made their debut and unsurprisingly, some of them were a direct response to the pandemic. Whereas most of us use the platform to share those irresistible life highlights (fire selfies included), Instagram is a bonafide tool for influencers and business owners who depend on their profile as a way to grow brand awareness and make money.
And in 2020, Instagram engineers came through in the clutch with updates to already-existing features and brand new ones that address the most common goals of creators everywhere. Ahead, a quick overview of every Instagram feature to launch this year (so far).
Instagram Messaging Updates
Organic engagement should be the goal of every creator and Instagram’s latest private messaging features make it easier than ever. Generally speaking, the biggest pro is that they streamline communication between Facebook and Instagram so you can better manage who you’re talking to and where. Some of the standout updates include:
-the ability to watch videos with your friends or audience during a video call
-a “Vanish Mode” that makes messages disappear after they’re seen
-Chat colors for color-coordinating your convos
-Message Controls for deciding who can and can’t message you directly
-animated message effects
Here’s the full list of messaging updates.
Instagram Live Badges
This month, Instagram rolled out a beta version of badges to 50,000 creators. Available in three payment tiers ($0.99, $1.99, $4.99), badges can be purchased by Instagram Live viewers which make it easier to stand out in the comments while supporting their favorite influencer, celebrity or business owner. If you’re hosting the Live, badges are a smart way to engage with your following and make money along the way.
Chances are at least one thing in your closet was bought after an Instagram Ad caught your eye. Earlier this year, Instagram did nothing to help reel in our shopping habits with the addition of Instagram Shop. The destination within the “Explore” tab is essentially a digital mall where you can window shop various brands and if you so desire, purchase an item or two via Facebook Pay. This feature also includes personalized recommendations and if you’re a business owner, yet another way to make money.
Don’t stress–just add to cart. After an initial launch with major retailers, Instagram made its Checkout feature available to all users in August. If you’re a small business owner, Checkout allows your follower/customer to browse and complete a purchase from a single shoppable post or Instagram Shop without leaving the app. Not only does this make it easy to convert a follower into a customer. It also creates a second avenue for profit if you already have an e-commerce website.
With TikTok’s uncertain future tangled up in political controversy, it was inevitable that alternatives (and potential competitors) would be created. Such was the case for Instagram, who unveiled Reels this summer. Like TikTok, it allows you to create short videos by piecing together clips and music if you want a soundtrack. One of the few major differences is that Reels can only be up to 15 seconds long, while TikToks can go over one minute. Not sure how you can use Reels to promote your passion project? Here’s a quick explainer.
Fundraising isn’t new to Instagram, but the number of users doing it skyrocketed during the pandemic. Understandably so, small business owners have suffered in record numbers due to shutdowns and lack of emergency funding. For that reason, Instagram cut out the middle man with a Personal Fundraising feature that allows users to create their own fundraiser (which is subject to approval before going live) and/or donate to a fundraiser without leaving the app. The payment system, Stripe, is also used on Facebook.