Latest Updates from Instagram - November 2020

Reels and Shopping tabs integrated into Main Feed

Instagram has significantly updated the design and function of its Main Feed navigation. The Reels and Shopping tabs are now on the home screen, meaning that in the redesigned Feed entertainment and shopping are now only a click away from each other.

The most exciting innovation from a creator's point of view is certainly the promotion of the Reels tab, which gives the short-form video content more prominence. Instagram Reels — their answer to TikTok — has gained in popularity in recent months and seamlessly picks up on the creative short-form video trend. Up to now, Reels was only available as feed post in the Main Feed or via Creator profiles. In the updated Reels tab, not only are Reels from the creators you follow displayed, but the algorithm offers suggestions based on user preferences.

The inclusion of the Shopping tab within Instagram’s main navigation offers brands significantly more visibility and the chance to promote their products to an even wider audience. The battle for attention in the shopping tab has only just begun, and an expansion of the platform in the direction of social commerce is underway.

DMs just got even better with 3 major updates

The first — Watch Together — is available now. When you update Messenger on Instagram, you and friends can tune into IGTV, Reels and TV shows, movies and trending videos in real-time over video chat. They’re also bringing two new show series with Grammy-nominated superstar Post Malone and digital creator Avani Gregg: Post Malone’s Celebrity World Pong League and Here for It with Avani Gregg, exclusively to Messenger and Instagram through Messenger’s Watch Together.

The second feature they’re rolling out is chat themes such as tie-dye and love so that you can personalise conversations. One theme is a special chat experience on Messenger and Instagram with TinyTAN, a group of cutesy characters created from the seven members of BTS. Once you update to the new experience, you can activate the TinyTAN chat theme on Instagram and Messenger.

The third — Vanish mode — is coming soon and is an opt-in feature that makes seen messages disappear after you leave a chat thread. Now people can send memes, GIFs or reactions etc. without it staying in their chat history. To turn it on, just swipe up in an existing chat thread – and you’re in vanish mode. Swipe up again, and you’re back to your regular chat. Vanish mode is already available in the US and a handful of other countries, and it’s coming soon to countries in the EU.

Keyword Search added alongside Profiles and Tags

Instagram has announced an update to its search functionality which will give users the capacity to search for specific keywords, as opposed to being limited to profiles, hashtags and locations.

You'll now be able to tap on specific search terms and Instagram will show you all the posts that include those exact words. That'll make it easier to find a wider range of content, while it could also change search considerations for brands looking to maximise their Instagram performance. If you wanted to show up for relevant searches previously, you had to include the right hashtags in order to get into those channels. But now, you won't necessarily have to add every possible hashtag variation to maximise visibility, as the terms you use within your caption will be enough, in many cases, to ensure people find your content.

Instagram will rank its keyword search results based on a number of factors "including the “type of content, captions, when it was posted, and more". It'll also look to highlight the most relevant matches to each individual user, based on algorithm calculations. So it’s not pure keyword searching, and qualifiers that moderate how and which content is displayed. But it could have an impact on search and discovery, and how people find your profile on the platform!