Instagram addict? Check out these three new features!

Photo by alex bracken on Unsplash

There’s been a flurry of social media announcements recently, some exciting; some potentially troubling.

The platforms in the news: Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, and Byte.

I’m going to focus on each one separately – starting with Instagram since it’s got not one, not two but three updates coming soon!

Reels

In 2016, Instagram made news when it launched Stories as a direct competitor to Snapchat. It allowed users to post bite-sized, interactive content that disappeared after 24 hours, unless you saved it as a Highlight. Right now, over 500 million people use Stories daily and that number is expected to rise with launch of Reels – directly competing against TikTok this time.

It had quietly rolled out the feature in Brazil last year and after news came that India banned TikTok on June 30, 2020, Instagram pushed out Reels more aggressively after updating various features.

Right now, it’s available in Brazil, India, Germany, and France but it seems that a wider release is coming soon.

At first glance, Reels is a direct duplicate of TikTok, right down to incorporating music choices within the short videos.

When it was first launched, Reels was a part of Stories but after it became apparent that users wanted more features and sharing options, Instagram decided to create a dedicated space on users’ profiles and in the Explore page.

To set it apart from Stories, Instagram is offering users a range of editing tools so they can create more complex videos that appear and feel different from the lifestyle content of Stories. 

Pin Comments

Another interesting feature is Pinned Comments, which allow users to pin up to three comments underneath each post. Initial testing on the feature took place in May 2020 before Instagram announced that it was rolling it out to everyone.

The feature is part of Instagram’s continued efforts to enhance its tools for combating harassment, abuse, and misinformation. Post authors will now be able to have more control over the comment section by highlighting positivity while moderating more negative and abusive responses.

Instagram users can already see the red pin icon popping up across the comments sections of various accounts. It’ll be interesting to see how it’ll be used by individuals, brands, businesses, and influencers.

Double Stories

The final new update – for now at least – is Double Stories. This allows users to see more Stories at once, both on the home screen and in a new Stories-only experience.

Currently, it’s in a testing phase so it’s only available to handful of users. Those that were given access to it have shared screenshots showing two rows of Stories instead of the current one row experience. Additionally, it was announced that a dedicated button will also appear allowing users to “See All Stories”. This takes users to a new screen to see all available Stories in a full screen experience.

It’s clear that Instagram is pursuing an aggressive strategy to become an all-inclusive platform. This will help the platform remain active and relevant within a competitive landscape, especially in terms of user experience and convenience. At the same, we need to be cautious that it, along with Facebook, won’t end up becoming the only social media platforms available in the future.

Regardless of where you stand on Instagram, it’s going to be interesting to see how these new features will further evolve the platform and content creation on it.

Sources

TechCrunch: https://techcrunch.com/2020/07/01/instagrams-latest-test-puts-all-stories-on-one-page/

TechCrunch: https://techcrunch.com/2020/06/24/instagram-expands-its-tiktok-clone-reels-to-new-markets/

The Verge: https://www.theverge.com/2020/7/7/21316141/instagram-pinned-comments-feature-available-harassment-moderation-tools

Digital Media Solutions: https://insights.digitalmediasolutions.com/articles/instagram-reels-new-markets-india

Hootsuite: https://blog.hootsuite.com/instagram-statistics/

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