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Are you up to date on changes from Instagram? Wondering which recent Instagram updates are important to marketers and business owners?
In this article, we explore Instagram changes that affect your marketing.
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2024 Instagram Trends Report
Instagram surveyed Gen Z trends across five countries to identify what to expect on the platform in 2024 across areas like fashion, beauty, social media, dating, friendships, and lifestyle. Sustainable fashion is a priority, with Gen Z planning to buy less, repeat outfits, shop locally, thrift, and DIY more. Individuality will drive fashion and beauty trends, with Gen Z getting creative with styles while seeking signature scents and aesthetics. Social media will be used to connect with friends/family and follow trends. Most Gen Zs are single and will focus on current relationships over new ones. Self-improvement is the era of 2024, with goals of staying healthy, exploring careers, and traveling. Gen Z will support issues through education, voting, and social media activism. Food-wise, they are interested in trying vegan products and plant-based meats. The majority belong to fandoms around T.V., music, and gaming. Direct messaging celebrities on Instagram is Gen Z’s preferred way to show support.
Our Take: The 2024 Trend Talk report focused solely on Gen Z users aged 11-26, failing to provide insights across generations. While unsurprising that Gen Z relies heavily on social media for connections with friends, family, and community, the report overlooks valuable data from older demographics. Platforms like Instagram should expand research across generations for a more comprehensive understanding of broader usage trends. Still, the existing Gen Z data offers value in highlighting growth areas like fashion, beauty, lifestyle, and food content appealing to young audiences. For brands marketing products or services targeting Gen Z specifically, this report merits close review to identify current trends and future opportunities. With Gen Z’s reliance on niche content aligned with specific interests, even radio could tailor programming to engage such listeners. More cross-generational research would strengthen analysis, but the current Gen Z report provides reasonably insightful direction.
A.I. Background Tool
Meta has introduced a new generative A.I. background editing tool for Instagram Stories to users in the U.S. The tool allows users to change the background of their images by providing prompts such as “On a red carpet” or “Being chased by dinosaurs.” Users can also write custom prompts to generate new backgrounds. After posting a Story using the tool, others will see a “Try it” sticker with the prompt so they can experiment with the image generation feature as well.
Our Take: Initially skeptical, Instagram marketing expert Chelsea Peitz was pleasantly surprised by Instagram’s new AI-powered background feature for Stories. While not an original idea, Meta’s growing investment in A.I. capabilities drives compelling new offerings like this. The feature lets you choose creative prompts to generate fun custom backgrounds showcasing things you enjoy – my suggested prompt hilariously nailed my puppy obsession! The ability to swap between background variations and select specific areas of existing story images for enhancement provides welcome personalization. Does it feel a bit gimmicky at first? Sure. But the results look fantastic, surrounding you in delightfully immersive scenery. Other apps offer similar AI-generated story backgrounds, yet Instagram’s direct integration makes it easily accessible and highly engaging. As Meta leans further into A.I. to boost platform innovations, features like this preview an interactive, imaginative future. Despite initial doubts, their clever application of A.I. definitely won Chelsea over with joyful, share-worthy stories.
Instagram Add Yours Sticker Templates
Instagram has launched a new feature where users can create customized “Add Yours” templates for Stories, allowing them to make meme-able prompts for followers to participate with. To create a template, users can upload a Story and add elements like GIFs, custom text, or images, then tap the “Add Yours Templates” sticker to pin the parts they want others to reuse. People sharing the template can’t edit the pinned elements but can add to them. This feature rolls out globally starting today, building on the existing Add Yours sticker launched in 2021 for responding to prompts. The customizable templates give users more creative expression and collaboration abilities. Similarly, Instagram introduced a Reels template browser in July. The new template option comes alongside the recent launch of a generative A.I. background editing tool for Stories in the U.S.
Our Take: Instagram’s latest interactive Stories offering allows creating customized templates for others to contribute to, intending to spark viral “memeable moments.” Essentially an evolution of the popular “Add Yours” sticker, these templates let you pose questions to prompt responses from followers. Chelsea had seen lighthearted examples like “How old are you?” and “What’s your zodiac sign?” drawing substantial engagement. While clever in theory, we worry sharing personal information publicly in this format risks privacy and security – reminiscent of those notorious Facebook quizzes. With templates proving extremely shareable, participation could quickly snowball out of control. Still, interacting collaboratively through Story templates isn’t entirely new – years ago, the drawing tool enabled similar back-and-forth posting. So, while the concept feels fresh and engaging, we must thoughtfully consider potential downsides, too. Overall, we applaud expanding creative ways to interact in Stories but hope Instagram provides proper safeguards around privacy and data collection through features like these templates. Achieving viral status shouldn’t compromise user protections.
Hype Comments
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Instagram has introduced a new feature called Hype Comments that allows users to leave comments on others’ Stories, not just posts. Previously, people could only react to Stories with an emoji. Still, those who have the update can now include specific written thoughts and reactions visible to anyone viewing the Story. The change comes over a year after Instagram launched the ability to like Stories. Those not thrilled about Hype Comments can turn the feature off in Settings. The update began rolling out to some users on December 5th, and notifications will appear when access is enabled, but it will likely take some time before all users have it.
Our Take: Like many users, Instagram’s vague rollout of “hype comments” for Stories puzzled us. Notification popups mentioned the feature without explanation, aptly described by reports as “no one knows how to use it.” Essentially enabling the public to comment directly on someone’s Story, the option sticks post-like notes visible to all viewers. Imagine an ephemeral Story suddenly garnering ongoing conversation from random followers. Do we really want to force social engagement with public commentary in what’s meant to be a private, intimate sharing space? The term “hype” comments implies building excitement, but the concept feels wholly misaligned with Stories’ intended transient nature. And knowing Instagram often defaults privacy settings to “on,” users may unwillingly expose Stories to uninvited hype engagement. The ability to disable the feature offers relief, but clear consumer hesitation and confusion suggest an uphill battle toward acceptance. While community interactivity evolves across social platforms, stapling a public comment feed onto impermanent Stories seems a disjointed stretch solely for engagement metrics. Time will tell if hype comments generate discussion or just dissatisfaction. For optimal Story sharing and viewing, Chelsea will keep the Hype muted.
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Instagram User Safety Features
Instagram has announced new tools rolling out in the coming weeks to help creators proactively moderate their accounts and understand potential issues with their content. Enhanced spam detection will enable bulk removal of spam comments, story views, tags, and fake followers so creators spend less time on moderation. Suspicious followers will be filtered for review and bulk deletion. Spammy tags can also be bulk deleted or automatically removed after 30 days. Story views that seem spammy may be hidden as well. For content that may violate policies, Instagram is testing in-app nudges to flag potentially problematic posts and provide more education. Overall, the goal is to save creators time and give them more transparency around content issues so they can focus on connecting with fans rather than managing unwanted interactions.
Our Take: Instagram finally empowered users to tackle the relentless onslaught of spammy comments, shady followers and bots infiltrating the platform. Activating new safeguards to identify fake accounts and engagement proactively couldn’t have arrived sooner. Sophisticated spammers always found workarounds to previous meager attempts at comment filtering or inbox message requests, continually bombarding posts. But no more! Rolling out over the coming weeks, Instagram equips us to bulk delete spam tags and rid accounts of suspected fake followers accumulated over the years. Even better, we can ignore pestering tags, and after 30 days, Instagram automatically removes them for us. Chelsea recently questioned a frozen follower count despite consistent daily growth, likely signaling their evolving spam controls already actively filtering in the background. While the experimental spam filter toggle is deactivated in Chelsea’s settings, additional backend improvements seem to be underway. Consider this the needed spring cleaning to wipe out lingering specks of spam across the social sphere. Finally able to scrub our spaces clean of bot nonsense and focus on authentic community, she eagerly welcomes Instagram’s robust anti-spam advancements to secure the integrity and value of our connections. Out with the old riffraff and in with the new year relational joy!
Downloadable Reels
Instagram head Adam Mosseri announced that the ability to download public Reels is now available globally after initially launching in the U.S. in June. Downloaded Reels will have an Instagram watermark with the account name, similar to TikTok. Users can tap the share button and select “download” to save a Reel. Accounts can disable Reel downloading in Settings if they prefer. However, downloaded Reels with licensed audio will not include the audio track – only original audio will remain. The download rollout aims to allow broader access and sharing of Reels off the platform while still attributing them to creators by adding watermarks, as other platforms like YouTube have also implemented for short-form video.
Video Status
Instagram announced on Wednesday that it is adding support for video Notes, allowing users to post 2-second video loops in addition to text-based Notes. Notes have so far functioned like AIM status messages for sharing things like songs you’re listening to. The new video option gives users more creative ways to use Notes. Instagram also introduced additional reply options for Notes from friends, including photos, videos, audio, stickers, and GIFs. Any replies are as a D.M. to the friend. Notes were introduced last year and have proven popular with teens. While they likely won’t replace Stories given the time limit, video Notes give users another quick and creative way to share updates on Instagram beyond text and Stories.
Our Take: Instagram suddenly expanded Notes by letting users incorporate a 2-second video loop to augment the static text-based messages. Visualizing this addition, we liken it to the animated profile videos formerly allowed on LinkedIn, briefly turning a still image dynamic. While novel for Notes, questions arise on aligning looping video with Notes’ intentionally private nature thus far. Historically confined to inbox-only conversations, Notes offered an intimate, personal exchange, unlike feed posts for the public eye. So blending the casual openness of ephemeral video feels oddly disjointed from Notes’ original purpose. Do we want fleeting yet attention-grabbing media infiltrating our D.M.s? Moreover, where exactly will animated Notes appear – tucked inside existing message inboxes or occupying some visually prominent external space? As social platforms increasingly prime user engagement through hi-res video, Notes assimilation feels inevitable. Chelsea hopes Instagram doesn’t squeeze a square peg into a round hole to trend chase. Notes deserve an identity beyond desperation for added multimedia interaction. This twist demands more thoughtful integration that elevates the existing personal connections Notes enables.
Share Counts
Instagram has quietly made public the number of times a post is shared, a metric previously only visible to brands and creators internally. The share count now appears next to some accounts’ paper airplane share icon, indicating the growing importance of sharing as a success metric on the platform. Sources noticed public share counts emerging over recent months, though exactly what constitutes a “share” and why only some accounts show the metric remains unclear. Making share counts public signals that Instagram recognizes sharing’s increasing value for driving engagement.
What used to be a fairly simple Facebook Reels editing tool was updated to let marketers and creators trim and fine-tune the video, audio, music, and text layers of a reel in one place.
Chelsea Peitz teaches sales professionals how to leverage social media and technology to build a powerful personal brand and develop content that generates real leads. She’s host of The Chelsea Peitz Podcast. Her most recent book is What to Post.
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