Instagram 2021 Updates & What It Means For Brands | Three29

Instagram 2021 Updates & What It Means For Brands

Allison Ward

Social Media & Content Specialist

Posted in digital

You might have already heard the news – and if you haven’t yet, we’re sure you’ve seen some of the changes taking place on Instagram. 

In case you missed Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri’s announcement on Twitter, he shared that Instagram will no longer be a ‘photo-sharing app’. Your Instagram feed probably looks a lot different than it did when the app originally launched in 2010, and many more big changes are underway.

Mosseri stated, “The number one reason people say that they use Instagram, in research, is to be entertained. So people are looking to us for that.” 

With the alleged data collected, Instagram is pivoting its platform to primarily function for video, shopping, and messaging content. These updates are set to roll out over the next year, and the algorithm will begin to tailor to these categories in the coming months.

So what does this mean for small businesses, brands, and social marketers?

Well, let’s start with the pros. 

There is going to be an influx of new formats to share content coming to Instagram, such as: 

  • longer videos shared to Stories
  • new reactions to Stories such as ‘likes’
  • the ability to upload photos and videos from a desktop
  • a new “Collab” feature to use within Reels
  • new cross-posting features between Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp

Another positive feature rolling out is an update to the Insights tool, that will provide more data for marketers, business owners, or creator profiles. The new data is supposed to provide more specific detail about who is engaging with your content. New demographic insights will be incorporated into the data, providing a more comprehensive view of who you’re reaching with your different IG posts, and how they’re engaging.

And as part of its broader shift towards video content, Instagram is testing longer videos in stories and new stories-to-reels links as two new options to maximize user engagement. Instagram’s goal is to streamline content creation and process, by scaling back the platform’s various tools which is why they’ll be putting more specific focus on Stories and Reels. With this initiative in play, you’ll see the removal of IGTV and an eventual end to the traditional Instagram feed.

What this will do for brands, business owners, and marketers alike is open themselves up to being more creative with video content by keeping up with trends on Reels and TikTok. It will encourage us to engage more by collaborating with more influencers, brands, and users as well as promote more interaction and communication with them daily. In doing so, it will increase exposure and brand awareness, as well as open your page up to new insights from your following.

The cons you ask? Well… 

There’s an argument to be said that Instagram is detaching itself from what users originally came to the app for. Additionally, there’s a notion that Instagram is trying to mimic TikTok’s popular format instead of valuing the distinctions between the two apps. The mixed reviews might leave you wondering if all the changes will end up driving users away.

Is the competition with TikTok their primary focus? Maybe. Marketers will tell you that video has been, and will continue to be the driving force of engagement within social media so it’s not shocking that Instagram wants video to be in the driver’s seat. However, Instagram has always been a place for users and creatives to showcase their photos to the world, and now that atmosphere is essentially going to be blocked out.

Secondly, you might be wondering how many new metrics of data will be coming in, and what you really want to take into consideration. With all the new formats, it’s been tricky, to say the least, to juggle creating content across Instagram’s ever-changing algorithm. And to continue to bring in new interaction features only multiplies the many ways we track engagement. 

If moving their photo-sharing platform status to video wasn’t enough, Instagram is also prioritizing their online shopping experience to be the main proponent in their algorithm. It isn’t quite clear how they plan to do so, but overall we know that Instagram’s goal is to be a one-stop-shop entertainment app driven by algorithms and videos.

How to Get Ahead of the Algorithm 

Do we ever really know exactly what the algorithm is going to favor next? No. But here’s a few ways to stay in the loop and make the best judgment you can:

  1. Stay on top of news and updates – We like to Use Social Media Today, The Verge, and TechCrunch
  2. Follow trends and make content that applies to your brand
  3. Test out new sticker formats, boost engagement, and get feedback from your audience – A popular trend is using the Polls sticker to ask followers what they like to see from you or doing “This or That” polls to boost engagement. It’s fun, interactive, and insightful!
  4. Make plans to incorporate longer forms of video – Make no mistake, videos are much more complex than snapping a photo or creating a graphic… but they’re also more compelling! Not only will they boost your engagement but prioritize your content in the new algorithm feed.

Thoughts on the rollout of new Instagram updates? We’d love to hear your feedback!