If you have been using Instagram for a while now, you might have noticed that the photo-sharing social media platform absolutely loves change.
2018 has only just begun, and Instagram has already rolled out a number of new features that are getting incredibly hard to keep a track of. While Instagram’s attempt to help users interact with their audience in increasingly fun ways is amazing, you need to make the maximum use of them for your Instagram growth.
Let’s take a look at what these exciting changes mean and how to use every new Instagram feature together!
All the new features released in 2018
You may have already noticed a lot of changes happening to your Instagram feed, from the simplified inbox to the brand new set of tools that make shopping and selling on Instagram a whole lot easier.
Before we dive into the details about the new features, here’s a quick overview on the API and algorithm changes and what it means for you:
1. Instagram’s API Changes
Instagram announced major changes to its API earlier this year, in an attempt to protect user data and privacy, and left quite an impact on all the businesses that revolve around Instagram.
If you use any apps connected to Instagram, you might have already noticed some changes and some may have stopped working entirely. The reason for this is that Instagram’s new API is much more restrictive to third-party apps than the older API.
Here is a quick list of all the major changes that you need to know:
- Your Instagram ‘likes’ are now private only to you and companies will not be able to access which posts you have liked. This will mainly affect all the shopping brands that tracked your interests through which posts you ‘liked’.
- Most third-party apps that you used to analyze your Instagram statistics like number of followers and unfollowers, have stopped working.
- Instagram bots no longer work. If you were using bots as a means of increasing followers on Instagram, they already have or will soon stop working entirely.
2. Instagram’s Algorithm Changes
Instagram’s algorithm is what predicts which posts are the most important to you and tries to show it to you in that order. It is not news to a regular Instagram user that the algorithm has changed yet again, and what you now see on your feed is mainly determined by the timeliness of the post, your interests and your relationship to the person posting.
The new algorithm prioritises posts from ‘friends and family’. As reported by TechCrunch, the major factors that decide what content shows up on your feed are –
1. Timeliness – How recently the post was shared.
2. Interest – Predictions based on past behaviour on similar content.
3. Relationship – How close you are to the person sharing the post, as determined by your interactions with the person.
4. Frequency – Depending on how often you open Instagram, you will see the best posts since your last visit.
5. Following – If you follow a lot of people, you will be seeing content from a wider range of users and lesser content from one specific user.
6. Usage – How long you use Instagram determines if you will see high ranking posts in a short duration of time or if the algorithm needs to dig deeper for more content if you spend a long time browsing.
The takeaway: The higher your engagement rate on Instagram, the higher are the chances of your content showing up on your followers’ feeds.
3. All new Explore!
Instagram announced an all new Explore page in May, and implemented it in June.
The new Explore design separates posts by Topics, so that you can discover posts based on your interests. With the new Topic Channels, you have a lot more control over which posts you want to browse.
The default Explore page is personalised ‘For You’ by Instagram, with a mix posts that are tailored to your interests by analyzing your past interactions on posts. Other Topic Channels include ‘Humor’, ‘DIY’, ‘Beauty’, ‘Art’ and more. It gives you a chance to explore your specific interests by delving deep into them, instead of looking up single hashtags.
For instance, if you want to look up travel destinations, you can just scroll the Topic Channels till you find ‘Travel’ and you will have access to a number of posts from users and brands alike.
For brands, the new Explore page means more opportunity to get their content noticed by their target audiences.
How does this new Instagram feature work? The Topic Channels are displayed on the top of the Explore page. Select one to see content specific to that topic. You can also ‘Mute’ a Topic Channel by tapping and holding the Channel you want to hide from your Explore Page.
Instagram just launched an exciting new app built into the Instagram app, IGTV. It will let you post and view long-form, vertical videos that go over the time limit of one minute!
Think of it as a longer version of your Instagram Story videos. They can be upto an hour long!
While IGTV is a stand-alone app, Instagram has made it easier for Instagram users to access it through the app itself. It works just like a TV, where the videos start as soon as you tap on the IGTV icon and switch between the numerous channels.
To make it easier for you to browse through the videos from your favourite Instagram creators, IGTV’s channels are segregated into ‘For You’, which is personalised recommendations for you; ‘Following’ , where you can view content from those you follow; ‘Popular’, where you can view popular content; and ‘Continue Watching’, where you can pick up watching videos from where you left them mid-way.
For content creators and brands, IGTV brings a whole new way of creating content on Instagram. Brands can use this feature for events like product launches or just to connect deeply with their audience. The possibilities are endless! Get creative!
How does this new Instagram feature work? You can tap on the new IGTV icon next to Instagram Direct icon and scroll through the channels at the bottom of the page and swipe down to hide the menu after you have selected the channel you want to view.
You can then like, comment or share the long-form videos with your friends.
5. Video Chat With Friends While Scrolling On Instagram
Instagram also just introduced a Video Chat option to Instagram Direct! You can now video chat with up to 4 people on Instagram itself, giving you a way to connect with your friends in a private space while you browse Instagram! How cool is that?
How does this new Instagram feature work? To use this feature, simply tap on the new video camera icon in your Instagram Direct group, and your friend’s phones will ring. You can then minimize the video to continue scrolling through Instagram and talk to your friends at the same time.
In a group, an active video chat is indicated when the video camera icon turns blue. You can tap on it to join the chat.
Because anyone can video chat with you, you can block someone or mute someone to hide notifications from them.
6. Star And Filter Your Messages
Instagram’s messaging system has always been a bit tedious, especially with the constant Story mention alerts filling up your inbox.
If you haven’t noticed, however, your inbox looks much cleaner than before. Since 150 million users connect with brands using Instagram Direct, Instagram is actively making changes to improve and simplify the inbox.
This new update lets messages be sent directly to the inbox instead of letting them clutter in the pending folder. Instead, it now divides your messages into Inbox, Unread, and Starred.
Yes, you heard right! Instagram now lets you filter messages and star important ones that you might want to get back to later, ensuring that you don’t miss out any on accident.
Instagram is also testing quick replies, which will let you easily reply to common questions with automated responses generated by you.
How does this new Instagram feature work? You only have to long press the message you want to favourite, and select the ‘star’ option on the pop-up menu.
On the right to the search bar is the filter option, where you can switch between Inbox, Unread and Starred messages.
This update will allow you to sort through tons of messages and declutter your inbox, and also make it easier for you to respond to customers faster and more efficiently.
7. Mute Accounts Without Unfollowing Them
Instagram finally allows you to ‘mute’ someone without actually having to unfollow them! This means you no longer have to see posts from an account that you follow on your feed if you don’t wish to!
The muting feature is basically like unsubscribing from updates without actually having to unfollow the account, and it gives you more control over what you get to see on your own feed.
How does this new Instagram feature work? You can mute someones profile by tapping on the three dots in the upper left of their post and selecting the mute option. Easy-peasy.
Businesses on Instagram may not need to worry too much about this feature, since an uninterested follower is more likely to unfollow a brand than mute their posts. However, it is still advisable to make sure your content is quality and to have a great engagement rate on your Instagram posts to avoid getting ‘muted’.
8. Turn Existing Posts Into Instant Ads
If you have ever wondered how great it would be if you could turn your existing organic posts into Instagram Ads, we have some great news for you.
This new Instagram feature is just around the corner, said to be available globally by the end of June.
Earlier, to turn an Instagram post into an ad, you had to use the ‘Promote’ button. Now, you can do it through Facebook’s Ads Manager or Power Editor. This means you can either create new ads from scratch or use ads from existing campaigns.
Once you create an ad, the engagement it produces will be added to the likes and comments on the original organic posts. This is great way to gain visible social engagement and will have a long-term effect on your organic growth as well as the added benefits from the ad campaign.
In-App insights will show you the Paid Metrics and Organic Metrics separately to help you track your engagement.
This feature is only available at the moment for single video posts and single photo posts. Instagram Stories, Instagram Shopping or carousel posts are not yet supported.
9. Add Clickable Usernames And Hashtags In Bio
We have all already added usernames and hashtags in our bios to link our followers back to our other Instagram profiles. But not a lot of people would actually go back and search those other accounts, so it didn’t really work as well as we wanted it to.
But guess what? Instagram is making it work now! Your usernames and hashtags within the bio will now be clickable hyperlinks!
Now, when you add a ‘#’ or ‘@’, it will automatically become a clickable link, making it easier for users to direct their followers to a hashtag or another profile.
Unfortunately, adding hashtags to your bio will not make your blog searchable within those hashtags, but it’s a great way to promote a brand hashtag. If your brand has never done it before, now is the time to try this feature out!
10. Instagram’s Shoppable Posts Are Getting An Upgrade
You may have noticed that Instagram is already turning into an ecommerce platform, with more than a two million advertisers using the platform. Instagram is set out to making it easier for users to discover brands and services and for these businesses to sell their products.
How does this new Instagram feature work? With the new Instagram Shoppable posts, businesses can now tag upto five products in organic posts, which will direct the customers to more information when they tap on them, and make an easy purchase.
This feature was rolled out last year, but was only available a few retailers. Now, it is globally available in 9 different countries. If you have an Instagram Business Profile, you will be easily able to use this new exciting feature!
11. Choose From 4 New CTA Buttons
In addition to the Shoppable posts, Instagram is also set on releasing 4 new calls-to-action buttons and making the platform more accommodating than ever for online businesses.
Here’s a quick look into how the CTA buttons have been upgraded:
1. There are now 4 different CTA buttons to choose from!
b. Get Tickets
c. Start Order
2. These new buttons don’t just send users through to the business’s website, they actually allow you to book reservations and make appointments through the app itself! This is how it will look like:
3. Instagram has made a few changes to make the CTA button more clickable and appealing – the CTA button will now change colors to match the main color theme of the ad’s photo.
If you are a small business who has never taken advantage of Instagram’s ads, now is a great time to do so! The easier it is to get users to convert into customers, the faster your business will grow!
12. Instagram Is Tracking Bullies!
Instagram now also filters out bullying comments that are intended to hurt or upset users. Instagram’s offensive comments filter will automatically hide toxic comments attacking a user’s appearance, character, well-being or health. Instagram will also be alerted after repetitive problems so they can take action.
13. You’re All Caught Up
Scrolling through your feed endlessly in search of new content can be frustrating, especially after the Instagram algorithm was updated. The Facebook-owned platform noticed this and added another feature that would not only reduce the frustration but also save time.
As soon as you have viewed all the posts on your news feed, the “You’re all caught up” message pops up on your feed. Indicating that scrolling further won’t show you new content. This is a great update but may also be a reminder to some people of their addiction to the platform.
14. Manage Your Time On Instagram And Facebook
After the You’re all caught up update, it looks like Instagram is really trying to curb social media addiction. As informed in their press release, a new time management tool was added taking into consideration the rising rate of social media addiction and its ill-effects. According to the platform, they want the time spent by users on the platform to be intentional, positive and inspiring.
The new tool is an activity dashboard for both the platforms that allows you to check how much time you have spent using the app. Based on the time you are spending, you can choose to set a reminder and alter your notification settings, among other options.
Note: All of these features are only accessible if your app is updated.
15. GIFs in Instagram DM
The latest update to the Instagram DMs includes the addition of GIFs. Right from various stickers in the stories to video chats to DMs, Instagram is creating a platform that gives you a lot of options to interact with other users. Introducing GIFs is another great addition.
Usage of Instagram DMs has been rising and adding GIFs adds another dimension to the way you chat with people on the platform. Powered by GIPHY, the feature also includes a “random” button that will send randomized GIFs to the recipient. This is a nice feature as it adds an element of surprise.
Every New Feature On Instagram Stories
With more than 300 million users on Instagram Stories, the feature doesn’t look like it is ever going out of trend. Instagram knows this, and has been rolling out new features to make sure users can keep using Instagram Stories to grow their accounts.
Stories have become a great advantage to businesses trying to create engaging content to reach their marketing goals, and Instagram is taking active steps to help them make it easier.
Here are a few exciting new features that Instagram added to their Stories and how each of them work:
1. Emoji Sliders
This one has to be our favourite! Emoji Sliders are the newest fun alternative to a poll.
It lets users share how much they like your products, or your services, or even just pizza with the help of an animated emoji on a sliding scale! Businesses can use this feature to make their content more engaging, all the while finding out what their customers’ likes and dislikes are.
How does this new Instagram feature work? The slider poll can be found in the third row of stickers as of now and lets you pick out the most popular emojis or even ones from your own library.
2. GIF Stickers
You can now add GIFs to your stories! Instagram announced earlier this year that it has worked with GIPHY to build a library full of high-quality GIF stickers that you can now put in your Stories!
These GIF stickers are fun, expressive and add a personality to your Stories to make them more engaging and help you increase your followers on Instagram!
How does this new Instagram feature work? All you have to do is tap to add stickers to your Stories, and then access the library of moving GIF stickers when you tap on the GIF option!
3. Embed Posts Into Stories
Another exciting feature is the one that lets you share your own or someone else’s Instagram post to your own Stories!
This is a great feature for cross-promoting your posts! It saves a lot of time – you don’t have to take a screenshot of the post you want to share to Stories anymore, you can just re-share it with the new feature.
You can use this feature in so many fun ways, whether it’s to share a relatable post from someone else’s profile – in which case, the original poster’s username will show up at the corner – or to promote your own content! Either way, it’s great for increasing your engagement rate.
How does this new Instagram feature work? Tap on the airplane icon at the bottom of a post and a pop-up menu including the option to ‘Add Post to Your Story’ will show up.
4. Type Mode
Instagram introduced the Type Mode this February, and it allows you to use different stylized fonts without necessarily adding an image.
This is a great tool for brands and businesses who struggle to keep creating image content for when they need to share a message across to their followers. Type allows them to bring attention to major announcements or updates while making the process much easier!
How does this new Instagram features work? It is the first option at the bottom in Stories alongside the Live option. You can tap on the gradient circle at the bottom left to change the background gradient of your Story. You can also switch between fonts and styles by tapping at the uppermost options labelled ‘Modern’, ‘Neon’ ,Typewriter’ and ‘Strong’.
5. Location Stickers and Hashtags
You can now also add Geotags and Hashtags in your Stories! This is a great way to increase your engagement and visibility.
Your Stories have a chance of appearing in the Explore Feed under the specific location tag or hashtag, which means you have more chances of increasing your followers on Instagram and increase engagement.
How do these new Instagram features work? You can find them in the Stickers menu. As of now, you can add only one Hashtag and Location per Story, but a lesser known fact is that you can also add up to ten clickable hashtags in your Stories in a normal text! You might want to make full use of that!
6. Upload Multiple Photos At Once
Instagram recently announced that you will now be able to upload multiple photos at once to your Stories!
You won’t have to keep going back to your gallery to upload every individual photo one by one, you can just easily select up to ten photos to post them at once!
This is a great feature for businesses that like to post a string of images as a part of a series.
How does this new Instagram feature work? When you go to upload new content, just tap at the new icon on the upper right corner and you can select ten media pieces to upload at one go!
7. Instagram Music
Have you ever taken a photo or a video for your Instagram Story and wondered how much better it would be if you could add background music to it? Well, now you can do exactly that!
Instagram allows you to search popular music and embed it in your Story. You can even search music by mood such as fun or dreamy, and by genre and can also look up a specific track if you have one in mind.
You can adjust how long you want your music to play and even where in the song you want the music to begin playing from.
The Story will then display a sticker with the title of the track and the artist to let your viewers know which song you are playing.
The feature is currently only available in Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany, Sweden, the UK and the U.S.
How does this new Instagram feature work? Tap the sticker icon on the top right corner after you take a photo or a video and look for the option ‘Music’. After tapping on it, you will be transported to a library with popular music where you can choose your jam.
8. Question Stickers
Social media platforms are constantly trying to add features that will generate more engagement. The question sticker is another such feature. The sticker is similar to what a polling sticker does. But instead of choosing from the two given options, your followers can type and send their replies.
You can see the replies on your story’s viewers list. Although you can see who has responded to the question, this information is personal. Tapping on the response will create a new story with your reaction to it, but it won’t disclose your follower’s identity.
9. Focus Feature
The Focus Feature (currently on on iOS) is also a great way to create quality-content without the need of fancy equipment! It lets you take what looks like a professional portrait, by blurring the background and focusing on your portrait.
How does this new Instagram features work? You can access it in your Stories alongside other popular features such as Boomerang and Superzoom.
Instagram have significantly upped their game when it comes to stories, the question sticker along with the emoji and polling sticker is bound to be more engaging than Snapchat Stories.
The number of new features that Instagram has rolled out and will continue to roll out later this year may be overwhelming, but we’ve covered most of them in this post that can really help you grow your Instagram account.
Instagram is actively working on improving the platform for its users and more importantly, for online businesses.
IGTV is the newest, most exciting feature of 2018, generating more opportunities for Instagram users to create new content in the form of hour-long videos.
Apart from adding fun new features like the Emoji Slider and Focus Mode in the Stories, Instagram has made quite a few updates to ensure that online brands have it easier to connect with their customers, including the feature to make direct transactions through the app and the ability to turn organic posts into ad campaigns.
Instagram is also working on making user experience easy by hiding offensive comments.
All in all, we can expect that Instagram will undoubtedly roll out more exciting features in the near future, but as of now, we can take the opportunity and utilize all the features that Instagram has already gifted us for increasing Instagram followers and growing our Instagram accounts organically!