The Head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, recently announced that Instagram will no longer be known as a photo-sharing app. “The number one reason that people say they use Instagram in research, is to be entertained”. He said that competition from TikTok and YouTube is fuelling the increased focus on video.
This article outlines the new changes that are developing on Instagram set to launch by the end of 2021, and what this means for your Instagram feed and business. To conclude, I will recommend 5 actionable steps to stay ahead of the game and adapt to the new world of Instagram.
What are the new Instagram updates for 2021?
Mosseri announced that Instagram is focused on four key areas of growth: Creators, Video, Shopping, and Messaging.
New Affiliate Tool
Creators can recommend products directly on the platform and earn a commission as a reward from the purchases they drive.
In the coming months, Instagram will be testing out a native affiliate tool that will allow Creators to discover new products available on checkout, share them with their followers and earn commissions for the purchases within the platform.
When people see an affiliate post from a Creator featuring a tagged product, they will see “eligible for commission” at the top of the post, so their purchases help support that Creator.
Instagram is pushing Ecommerce shopping for Creators who want to sell their own merchandise on their platform.
It is now easier to add an existing shop or open a new shop on their Instagram profile.
For Creators who already have their own product lines, they can now link their shop to their personal profile in addition to their business profile and is now available globally. This allows them to display and sell their products directly to fans.
More ways to earn ‘Badges’
Instagram is launching more ways for Creators to make extra money for reaching milestones with Badges.
Badges on Instagram Live give Creators ways to earn from their supporters. Instagram has made improvements to these features to unlock more earning potential, including the ability for supporters to purchase multiple badges during an Instagram Livestream.
More Creators are using these tools to engage directly with their fans. Therefore, Instagram wants to reward them for the impact they’re bringing to communities.
Instagram is going to be centred on video sharing rather than photo sharing.
Mosseri’s latest update focused on the platform’s video ambitions, given that so much competition abounds in the space, including TikTok and YouTube.
“We’re also going to be experimenting with how to embrace video more broadly — Fullscreen, immersive, entertaining, mobile-first video,” he explained. “And so, you’ll see us experiment with a number of things in this space over the coming months.”
Instagram Reels is a TikTok clone that allows you to create and share short videos with easy-to-use tools and the option to use the in-app music tracks or use custom audio.
Instagram is also encouraging users to make more Reels. According to a previous report, Instagram will deliver a ‘Bonus’ to users who use Reels. With more users coming in and using Reels, Instagram has found a way to maximize its income from Reels with the introduction of ads.
New Recommendation Tool
There are currently 2 recommendation tools Instagram are trying to test:
- The user selects topics they’re interested in, and Instagram decides what content you are going to see.
- Instagram places content on the user’s feed by people or hashtags they do not already follow.
The Head of Instagram also mentioned the way people keep in touch with their friends is very important. Although he didn’t disclose many details on the changes that might be happening, there will be major updates to the features and functionality of Direct Messaging.
Make sure you follow Adam Mosseri to stay ahead with all the new changes in the upcoming months.
What do these changes mean for you?
For the millions of users on Instagram, longer and more frequent videos mean more time watching, but also potentially more ads and sponsored content that you may not want to sit through.
If Instagram decides to show people’s content that you do not already follow, you may have less control over what you see in your feed — plenty of the videos that surface will be from accounts you don’t follow.
On the contrary, it can also mean that there is a big opportunity for small and big Creators to reach an audience who aren’t already following your content. The current best way to achieve this is by ranking on a hashtag or appearing on the Explore page, by pushing out quality content that favours the new algorithm – such as Reels.
If you are a Creator or a business owner, you will have a better opportunity to make money due to their improved Affiliate tool, Badges in Livestreams and shopping features for customers to purchase directly via the platform.
5 Steps to optimise your Instagram business with the new 2021 update:
1. Review your current content strategy and adapt
The new changes do not mean you have to completely abandon all your photos. However, it is crucial that your business has a Content Mix, i.e., a Content Strategy where each content form serves a specific purpose. Example: Photo Carousels are for knowledge sharing, whereas Reels are for growth.
If you don’t already have a content strategy, start by writing a list of content forms that are relevant to your brand (Stories, Reels, IGTV, Carousels, Highlights, etc) and strategize what types of content to post for each one.
2. Make sure your business is visible
Now that you are aware that video is king in the new world of Instagram, it is also important to know that relevant keywords, hashtags, brand, and location tagging all play a crucial role in gaining reach through SEO ranking. This helps make your content searchable and maximises your visibility.
Encourage engagement in your posts by asking questions to get people commenting or to share the post with their friends. A high engagement rate means the algorithm will push your content in front of more people that would be interested.
3. Make sure you are monetizing the platform
Once you have generated an engaged audience who supports and trusts your opinion, you are in a good position to start monetizing on Instagram and earn a passive income!
A few of many ways you can monetize is publishing sponsored content, affiliate links, selling a physical product using the Shopping Tool, and even digital products such as eBooks and online coaching.
4. Engage in Reels relating to your niche
If you are new to Reels or find the idea of creating Reels daunting, then begin by watching Reel content relating to your brand niche.
Do you specialise in outdoor leisurewear? Engage in Reels relating to adventure, camping, and fashion to get the creative juices flowing. Note the number of views, likes, and comments on certain styles of Reel content, so that you become familiar with what people are entertained by.
5. Create more Reels!
Just start. Reel content that is true to your brand AND entertaining is the winning combination to skyrocket your brand on the platform.
If you are already creating Reels, then establish a regular schedule to post Reel content that is realistic to you.
Commit to creating and uploading your set number of Reels every week for the next 2-3 months. Make notes of your current stats such as follower count, engagement rate, etc and in the next few months, review and note the growth and impact Reels has made to your profile.
What are your thoughts on these changes? Do you think these updates will make the app better or worse? Which one of these steps will you start to implement on your Instagram business? Let me know in the comments!