Instagram Report: Every App Update We Saw in 2021
Following the shifts spurred by the pandemic, Instagram launched a number of updates in 2021 to help businesses and content creators succeed.
Instagram started off 2021 with one of the most valuable features: Professional Dashboard. All Business and Creator Accounts on Instagram have access to tools to support business and monetization. Its features include analytics and performance, tools for running a business online, and educational resources like tips and guidance.
In February, Instagram and Facebook rolled out the Cross-App Messaging feature, which allows users on one app to find users on another app and message seamlessly. Video chat and sharing makes it easy to share posts across platforms.
Another valuable feature was Live Rooms, which allows users to chat with up to four friends simultaneously. This feature is beneficial for the pandemic, which forced both consumers and businesses to conduct more remote communication and collaboration.
The Recently Deleted feature allows users to recover deleted photos and videos as a protective measure against hackers. When hacked, some accounts lose all their prized content, and there wasn’t a feature to recover that content before now. Stories are held in the folder for up to 24 hours, and photos, videos, and reels stay in the folder for 30 days. Before anything can be deleted, users must verify the account.
In March, Instagram introduced Live Rooms, which allow up to three people to “hang out” in a virtual chat room. For businesses and creators, this feature supports hosting tutorials and Q&A sessions, engaging with other creators, or conducting an interview.
This feature also offers more monetization opportunities. During a live chat, viewers can purchase a badge to show support, giving brands and creators money.
Instagram released a fun feature that adds caption stickers to stories and reels, turning verbal speech into written words and enhancing content’s accessibility. In addition, some users like to watch Instagram videos without sound, so they can still appreciate the content with captions.
For creators, this feature allows users to broadcast without the sound on, which is more comfortable for some. Users can mute the microphone or turn off the video during live broadcasts as needed.
The Reels Remix feature was also released in April, which was a game-changer for influencers. With this feature, Instagram influencers can include other creators’ content within their own, creating a unique mix of footage.
Finally, there’s Instagram Insider digital magazine, which highlights the trends and features that can be found on the app. The PDF magazine includes inspiration from top creators and a section with frequently asked questions.
May was a big month for valuable business and creator features for Instagram, including an update to the Insights product. This feature allows creators to analyze and evaluate their performance on Instagram using different metrics for each type of content. This data can provide in-depth insights to account performance.
Though in test, May brought the “Turn-off” like counts option that allows users to avoid the like counts on their own or others’ posts for better user experience.
Finally, there was the equity update, a feature that uses machine learning to prevent algorithm bias that minimizes contributions from specific communities – namely, BIPOC creators.
June brought a number of updates to enhance the security of users’ accounts. Security Checkup is the primary feature that protects users from malicious activity and provides guidance for accounts that may have been hacked, such as checking login activity, confirming accounts, and updating account recovery information.
For accessibility, Instagram updated with a feature that translates text in Instagram stories. If a video has overlay text in a different language, Instagram offers that option to see the translation. At the time of update, the feature supported 90 languages in written text.
This is beneficial for businesses and creators operating in global markets. Instead of creating language-specific content, creators can use their native language and rely on translation to reach followers in other countries. This also applies to news feeds, profiles, and comments.
Instagram business users also enjoyed an update to the data tracking period within Instagram insights. Users can analyze the previous two months of data without third-party apps.
The August update provides more protection for users under 18. Some of these updates include restricting adults contacting teens, private accounts for users under 16, and limitations in advertising to minors.
Another update is Limits, which allows users to limit or hide comments and messages from users outside the followers list. This measure is to protect creators from offensive content from followers.
September brought a Map feature that allows users to find different businesses in the app, such as nearby restaurants, entertainment venues, and bars. When users click on the feature, they can get information about products and services.
Instagram also replaced the swipe option with stickers. Creators can use different sticker sizes and styles to bring the audience to websites.
The hotly anticipated Share link for Instagram stories finally hit the app in October. For small businesses and creators, this feature allows them to link to product pages and boost sales through the app and improve website traffic.
Another feature is the Collab option in posts and reels, which enables users to collaborate on this content and create mutual posts and reels. Users can also upload videos and photos via desktop, which makes it easier to stay on top of content calendars.
November brought a lot of features for creators and business users. These include:
- The option to delete individual photos in a carousel without deleting the full post
- Instagram Badges for Live for all eligible creators in the US, allowing creators to earn more money from followers
- The Add Yours Sticker to create a public thread in stories, so users can post images into friends’ stories
December’s update included the customize Link Sticker for stories, which allows all users to add links to Instagram stories. Before, this feature was only available to users with over 10,000 followers.
Following demand for more transparency and user control, Instagram updated the app with more options for users to control their presence on the platform. This update included:
- Chronological posts
- Favorites, a way for users to prioritize posts
More teen protection features rolled out in December, including a “Take a break” option to remind users to rest, an activity manager, app permissions, and parental controls for teen accounts.
Instagram for Influencer Marketing
While many of Instagram’s auto updates focused on users, the majority of the updates and new features enhance the experience for business users and creators. New monetization options, better tracking and analytics, and improved accessibility help Instagram solidify itself as a prime marketing platform.