In a world of social media giants, Instagram regularly updates its platform to keep up with its competitors. Recent changes have included a new algorithm, feature updates, and an announcement that might change how people use Instagram. As a business owner, keeping up with Instagram updates helps you find customers and maintain your existing base. Here’s everything you need to know about Instagram’s updates for 2021.
Instagram Announces it is No Longer a Photo Sharing Platform
Changes are coming to video on Instagram 📺
At Instagram we’re always trying to build new features that help you get the most out of your experience. Right now we’re focused on four key areas: Creators, Video, Shopping and Messaging. pic.twitter.com/ezFp4hfDpf
— Adam Mosseri 😷 (@mosseri) June 30, 2021
When Instagram launched in 2010, the platform was primarily a photo-sharing service. Over the years, Instagram has added video-based features like Reels, Stories, and IGTV. These features allow users to share long-form videos and short clips that disappear after 24 hours–similar to the Snapchat model.
In 2021, Instagram announced that it’s no longer a photo-sharing platform. Instead, Instagram’s focus has shifted to videos. The basic platform hasn’t changed–Instagram is still the place to share photos, find inspiration and promote your business. However, Instagram is also the place to share 24-hour stories and short clips, just like the clips you’d find on TikTok. This new approach helps Instagram compete with TikTok, one of the world’s biggest social media platforms with nearly 700 million users.
Instagram plans to roll out more features that encourage people to post videos on their Reels, Stories, and HGTV section. With this in mind, you should make videos part of your Instagram strategy if you haven’t already. Film short clips for your stories, go live to talk to your followers, and upload permanent, long-form videos to your HGTV section. If you use TikTok, you can reuse these videos for Instagram. Just make sure that you don’t upload videos that have TikTok branding.
An Internet marketing company like Send It Rising has the tools that you need to stay on top of Instagram’s ever-changing platform. Talk to us if you have questions or want to learn more about our services.
When you scroll through your Instagram feed in the near future, you’ll begin seeing suggested posts intertwined with posts from people that you follow. This feature includes posts from accounts that you don’t follow but might be relevant to your interests. You can add interests to your profile like “books” or “interior design,” increasing the relevancy of the posts on your feed.
If the posts aren’t relevant, you can keep Instagram from showing posts related to specific interests. You can also snooze the feature altogether. Currently, this algorithm update is in the testing phase, but Instagram might roll it out to their entire userbase in the next few months.
This update might help your posts reach more customers. For example, if you’re a photographer, users who choose “photography” as an interest might see your posts in their feed. They don’t have to be following you to see your posts–but they will follow you if they like your content. If you keep your brand consistent, you’ll gain likes and followers with little effort on your part.
However, this doesn’t mean that you should give up on traditional forms of marketing. Hashtags, videos, and promoted posts are still the key to getting the word out about your business. Update your Instagram regularly, so people are more likely to see your posts in their suggested interests.
Instagram Reels Updates
Before the latest update, Instagram limited its Reels to 30 seconds long. This was great if you uploaded short clips, but the short limit made some users turn to TikTok, which allows videos that are up to three limits long. Now, Instagram allows users to share Reels that are up to 60 seconds long. Instagram plans to roll out this feature across their platform gradually, so don’t panic if you don’t see it yet.
Instagram’s limit is still shorter than YouTube’s or TikTok’s, but you have twice as much time to get your point across. Take advantage of this feature by filming short interviews, behind-the-scenes clips, previews, and other great content. Like shorter Reels, you still have access to effects, background music, and touch-ups.
To film a 60-second Reel, hit the “15” button on the left. Press the button twice to expand to 60 seconds, then film the Reel as you would normally. Since Instagram puts a heavier focus on videos, Reels might be the key to growing your business.
Saving posts is a valuable but under-utilized feature. Underneath each photo on your feed, you’ll see a bookmark icon. Hit that icon to save a post, then press “Save to Collection” to add it to a folder. If you don’t have an existing folder, press the plus-sign button to make one. This saves the post permanently so you can go back and review it without searching your feed.
Recently, Instagram has talked about getting rid of public likes. This could make it harder to promote your business because people are more likely to press the heart button if a post already has likes. Instead of focusing solely on likes, start asking your followers to save your posts. It’s similar to asking your followers to “like and subscribe” on your YouTube channel.
Getting a large number of “saves” has two benefits for you. The most obvious benefit is that your followers won’t just like your picture and forget about it–they’ll see it again when they check your saved photos. Instagram moves quickly, so this keeps your posts from getting lost in the feed. But many people don’t realize that Instagram also counts the number of saves. This number isn’t public, but posts with more saves are more likely to appear in your followers’ feeds.
To see how many saves you’ve earned, press “Insights” on your profile, then scroll down to “Content You Shared” and hit the arrow to the right. Choose “Saves” from the drop-down box at the top. You’ll see the posts with the most saves at the top. If you see posts with many saves, you’ll know that you need to start sharing similar content. You can also filter your search by “Likes,” “Impressions,” and other valuable stats.
Even if Instagram doesn’t hide the number of likes, a save is as valuable as a like–if not more so. Start encouraging your followers to save your posts to their collections.
Newly Added Banned Hashtags
Adding hashtags to your posts is one of the best ways to gain a following. Unfortunately, some accounts flood the most popular hashtags with spam. Bots, spam accounts, and scammers have taken over hashtags like “adulting,” “babe,” and “always.” Since there are too many posts for Instagram to remove, they’ve taken more drastic action by banning these hashtags.
If you search for a banned tag on your smartphone, it won’t appear in the search results. You could visit the tag page directly on your browser, but you’ll get a message telling you that the page isn’t available. Adding a banned tag to your post is pointless–it might still show up on your post, but people won’t see it on the tag page. Essentially, the tag doesn’t exist.
To make matters worse, Instagram might shadowban your account if you use a banned hashtag. A shadowban is a temporary ban that keeps your posts out of tag pages and the Explore section. Your followers can still see your posts on their feed, but you’ll have trouble gaining new followers. Unfortunately, Instagram doesn’t tell you when you’ve been shadowbanned, so you might not know what happened until your engagements start to drop.
Instagram doesn’t have a list of banned hashtags, so you’ll have to check the hashtags beforehand. Some tags are apparent, but others might surprise you. Here are a few tags that you might not know are banned:
Even holiday hashtags like “#happythanksgiving” often get banned. Check the hashtags before you make holiday-themed posts.
“Sensitive Content” Content Filter for Users Under 16
While Instagram doesn’t allow certain types of content–like pornography–some graphic, explicit or upsetting material might show up in your feed anyway. To give users more control over their feed, Instagram recently launched Sensitive Content Control. Users can choose from three settings: “Allow,” Limit,” and “Limit Even More.”
If a user allows sensitive content, they’ll see everything, even content that might be offensive. They could also limit some content or nearly eliminate it altogether. Some posts could still slip through, but Sensitive Content Control is part of Instagram’s efforts to protect users under 16. Adults can also use this feature if they’re sensitive to certain types of content.
Unfortunately, the feature doesn’t let you choose the type of content that you want to eliminate. This means that people might not see your posts if you share potentially sensitive content. You have two options: accept the risk, or stop posting content that some people might find upsetting. Most businesses don’t post offensive content anyway, but it’s not clear what types of content might be blocked. Some businesses have seen a massive drop in engagements since Instagram launched the feature.
You can’t control what your followers do, but you can control the content that you post. Keep an eye on your engagements to see if the new feature has affected your profile.
Stay on Top of Instagram Algorithm Updates with Send it Rising
Running an Instagram account is practically a full-time job. If you don’t have time to follow the latest updates, it’s hard to keep your engagement levels up. Fortunately, a social media consulting company like Send It Rising does the work for you. Our social media marketing experts help you gain followers, land more conversions, and broaden your reach so you become a leader in your industry.
To get started, schedule a free consultation. Our team includes some of Instagram’s top influencers who know how to make your brand visible. They haven’t just read articles about Instagram–they’ve created accounts, started from the bottom, and used marketing tactics to earn tens of thousands of followers. Once you’ve had a consultation, you can hire our team to utilize our personalized service. Additional services include graphic design, Google ads, and website optimization.