Instagram is one of the biggest social media platforms in the world, coming in fourth with the most monthly active users behind Facebook, YouTube and WhatsApp. What’s more impressive for Instagram, is that from that list Instagram is by far the youngest. Launching in 2010, Instagram took the world by storm with its photo sharing interface. Although Instagram was revolutionary when it first hit the market with the app’s seamless integration with other social networks along with its simple yet powerful photo-editing tools, competitors were quick to release new features to attract the ‘gram’s audience. Most notably, TikTok (launched in 2016) as well as YouTube Shorts (launched in 2021) have given Instagram a run for its money especially with the growth of short-form videos.
As the social media landscape continues to grow and develop – it’s essential for platforms such as Instagram to innovate their service’s offerings. For failure to recognise the needs of users will result in deleting profiles and moving over to one of the many other social media platforms. 13 years after the app’s inception, Instagram has continued to refine and adjust features. In fact, when the app was first launched the creators reduced the features down by over 50% to keep the app’s purpose simple and effective. It’s this mentality that keeps Instagram relevant, listening to user’s needs and completing removing or adding a feature if it means a better experience.
As 2023 progresses, Instagram, owned by Meta, continues to introduce new features and enhancements to improve user experience and cater to the evolving needs of its diverse user base. In this blog, we will explore the latest updates, features, and trends shaping the Instagram landscape in 2023.
1. Text-based Threads App
Most recently, Instagram has launched the text-based Threads app, which serves as a platform for communities to engage in conversations about various topics of interest. Designed as a competitor to Twitter, Threads aims to provide a space where users can discuss current and trending subjects. This development is clearly a strategic move as Twitter users shy away from the platform after some questionable decisions made by owner Elon Musk. With Threads linked to the user’s Instagram account, the app offers a new way for Instagram users to connect and interact through text-based conversations.
2. Download Public Reels
Instagram now allows users in some countries to download Reels shared by public accounts directly from the app that has permitted the feature. By tapping on the share icon and selecting the “Download” option, users can save Reels to their camera roll. This feature enhances the ease of sharing Reels and expands the possibilities for users to engage with and reshare creative content. Public accounts also can turn off this feature easily in their settings.
This feature comes as competition increases between TikTok and Instagram, with TikTok being ahead of the game, having offered this feature for years previously.
3. Improved Reels Editing and Analytics
With the sheer growth of short-form videos, Instagram is making it easier to make videos look and sound better as well as track engagement and performance in order to “make Instagram a home for creators like you to express your creativity, connect with your audience, and earn a living.”
Main updates to editing:
- Central destination to find trending audio so you can find what’s the most popular music. See how many times the audio has been used, tap in to use it, or save the audio for yourself to jump on the bandwagon.
- Speaking of trending, you’ll also be able to see the top trending topics and hashtags – giving you more insight into your audience’s behaviour.
- There’s now a new editing experience, showing video clips, audio, stickers and text. This means you can line up your text and video clips with the beat of the music.
Main updates to Reel insights:
- New insights on total watch time and average watching time to help you better understand how your reels are performing. When are your viewers tuning in? When are they tuning out? Find all of these insights in the app!
- Additionally, Instagram is also adding a new way to see how your reels are contributing to your growth. Accounts will receive a notification with new followers that have been gained specifically from Reels.
- Last year Instagram rolled out gifts on Reels where fans can express their appreciation for the creator’s content by gifting money, allowing creators to make a living from their content. In 2023, this will grow further with a new feature that shows which fans sent a gift so the creator can recognise that individual.
4. Instagram Live Shopping Stops
As of March 16, 2023, Instagram has discontinued the ability to tag products during live broadcasts, signalling a shift in focus towards other features and functionalities that provide more value to users. The Livestream Shopping feature was introduced in 2020 and was originally seen as one of the best ways to make more money on social media. However, it didn’t take off as expected.
In China, the livestream shopping has been revolutionary.Influencers saw great returns selling directly to their audiences with platforms such as WeChat, Taobao Live and Douyin utilising such features. On the other hand, when Instagram launched live shopping in the west, U.S. consumers didn’t embrace this shopping experience, only making up 5% of total e-commerce sales in the U.S in 2022. Once competitor TikTok announced they were scaling back its live commerce plans, it was the nail in the coffin to ditch live streaming shopping.
While live social commerce is no longer supported, Instagram remains committed to developing features that enhance the overall shopping experience within the platform. There’s now more focus on enhancing advertising, making it easier for consumers to discover businesses and shop on Instagram.
5. Introduction of Broadcast Channels
Instagram has launched a new feature called broadcast channels, allowing creators and brands to share text, images, and more with their followers in a private chat in their inbox. Although these messages pop up in the user’s inbox, they don’t work exactly like a normal DM. Channel followers are able to read and react to the messages but can’t reply. This feature enables one-way communication, providing an additional avenue for creators to engage with their audience and share updates, announcements, and exclusive content.
Once you have gained access to the feature, you are able to create your own broadcast channel from your Instagram inbox and link the chat in your Instagram bio. Visitors can click on the link to the inbox and opt to join the conversation. According to Instagram, broadcast channels will be adding more features too such as the ability to invite another creator into the channel to discuss upcoming collabs, run an AMA questionnaire and create a channel to engage with devoted fans.
6. Meta Verified Subscription Service
Meta, the parent company of Instagram, has introduced the Meta Verified subscription bundle. This service offers users on Instagram and Facebook the opportunity to verify their accounts using a government ID. Subscribers gain access to various benefits, including account support, increased visibility, expanded reach, exclusive Stickers for Stories, and proactive account protection. The testing phase of Meta Verified began in Australia and New Zealand, with plans to expand to other countries in the future. Recently announced (over Zuckerberg’s Broadcast Channel) on June 30th, 2023 that Meta Verified has arrived in Latin America and will continue to expand the feature globally.
7. Small features make a big difference
Instagram is constantly making small updates to the app, eager to retain and grow its audience. Earlier this year, the app introduced end-to-end encryption conversations on Instagram, offering a way to add extra security and protection to messages and calls in the Instagram chat. And, most recently, Instagram has launched a feature to help users ‘doom scrolling’ where Instagram notifies the user “Time for a break?” when the app detects the user is scrolling through Reels at night.
Instagram, what’s next?
Instagram continues to evolve in 2023 by introducing new features and updates to meet the needs of its vast user base. From the launch of the text-based Threads app to improved Reels editing tools and the introduction of broadcast channels, Instagram aims to enhance user engagement, content creation, and community building. Additionally, the Meta Verified subscription service offers users the opportunity to gain account verification and access exclusive features. As Instagram strives to stay at the forefront of social media innovation, these updates provide exciting opportunities for creators, influencers, and users alike.