Like most tech platforms, Instagram is faced with the need to constantly adapt or die out.
This drive to innovate has led to many notable Instagram updates in a relatively short time — some loved, others despised. Small businesses and marketers leveraging Instagram to reach and engage their audiences are making the most of these changes to continue to meet business goals.
Shift to Video — With Many Still Resistant
The most significant Instagram update is its move to become a more video-centric platform. Primarily in response to the rise and continued success of TikTok’s short video format, Instagram launched its own short-video format called “Reels.”
Many IG content creators have expressed a dislike of creating video and dismay that IG is trying to shift toward this medium. However, they feel they must create more videos to stay relevant.
In response to critics of this move to expand the role of video, Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri said this algorithm and video shift reflect how users today are already using the platform, “I need to be honest. I do believe that more and more of Instagram is going to become video over time. We see this even if we change nothing.”
Algorithm Changes Not Appreciated
It also made the move to downgrade the visibility of posts from friends and brands that users follow in favor of algorithmically chosen content (recommended content based on user behavior).
Many users complained that the new algorithm was recommending videos they have no interest in. This pushed Instagram to backtrack some of its algorithm changes. Mosseri said they need to make improvements. However, Instagram still plans to shift toward more recommended content.
Enhancing Creator Tools and Monetization
Instagram and its parent company Meta are focusing their efforts on supporting creators and helping them monetize within the metaverse. They seek to move away from the days of simply targeting audiences with ads to engaging that target audience in a virtual space to meet business goals. Meta’s in-stream payments, which businesses can use to monetize their posts is just one feature being explored.
Many Instagram updates on this list show this commitment to creators exploring new and better ways to engage followers and customers.
Bonus Play allows U.S.-based creators with a professional account to earn money based on the number of times their Reels play.
Pre-Built Reels Templates
In further support for content creators, particularly those who are averse to recent changes, Instagram added templates to make it easier for influencers and businesses to make the transition and continue to engage on Instagram.
Many small local businesses fall into this video-hesitant category, so it’s important to realize Instagram has some great tools to help you adapt to this user-driven shift toward video.
Scrapping Full Screen
They had been testing a full-screen option for Instagram to further mimic the more immersive TikTok experience. However, they have since scrapped those plans based on community feedback that Instagram shouldn’t try to be TOO MUCH like TikTok.
Search for Local Businesses by Category
Recent map improvements help local businesses get found more easily. Now, users interested in following and supporting local businesses on the platform can find you more easily. Small local businesses like cafes, plumbers, HVAC, remodeling companies, hospitality, etc. can leverage this feature to get found by a local audience.
Recent subscription improvements help businesses make their subscribers feel special and stay engaged. This is great for small local businesses.
Take a look at how local businesses can use new subscription features along the buyer’s journey.
- Subscriber Chat
- Invite subscribers to a “members only” chat.
- Subscriber Reels and Posts
- Gate certain reels and posts so that only subscribers see them.
- Lead Generation
- Subscriber Home
- Subscribers gain access to a home button that allows them to explore all of your exclusive content.
Local businesses can make the most of this by inviting people casually viewing content to subscribe and gain access to exclusive content.
Why not create episodic content across many reels? To see every episode, they must subscribe.
Auto-generated Reels Captions
When you upload a new video, the caption feature turns on automatically. This makes your reels more accessible to the hearing impaired and allows people to get more out of your video without sound in their feeds.
Augmented Reality (AR) Captions
Add stylized captions to videos that make it appear words are coming out of your mouth. Captions come in three styles:
- Bubble, which looks like a text message
- Mumble, which makes words appear to flow out of your mouth
- Comic, which looks like a comic strip caption
This is just one more feature a small local business can use to easily increase Reel quality and engagement.
What’s Your Next Step?
If you’ve been hesitant to use video or think it takes too much time, you may be surprised. Instagram’s updates reflect a shift in how people are consuming content. They show that even small businesses can use video to reach their customers.
Learn more about how Dream Local Digital can help you meet business goals through Instagram and video. Explore our social media services.