Instagram seems to be going through an identity crisis as it rapidly rolls out new features and changes. For creators trying to build their brand and audience, it can be tricky to keep up.
In this post, I'll break down the latest Instagram updates, changes, and leaked features coming soon. You'll get insights into where Instagram is headed and what it means for your creator strategy.
Questionable New Features: AI and Chatbots
At a recent Meta event, Mark Zuckerberg announced Instagram will incorporate more AI like image generation and chatbots.
For example, their new slash command allows users to generate AI art by typing "/imagine [prompt]". This mirrors the popular Midjourney tool.
Zuckerberg also boasted about new Instagram chatbots - AI versions of celebrities like Paris Hilton that users can allegedly have conversations with.
Frankly, the utility of these flashy AI features seems limited for most users. With major societal concerns around misinformation from AI imagery, it's an odd choice for Instagram to devote resources towards. The chatbots in particular provide little obvious value.
As a creator, these announcement likely won't impact your strategy much. But they do signal Instagram's scramble to infuse more "innovation" into its products as growth slows industry-wide.
Major Changes Coming to Stories
Far more relevant is Instagram's testing of significant changes to Stories. Given Instagram's shifting focus towards short-form video content, revisions to Stories make sense.
Some potential updates based on leaks include:
Frame for Stories - Adds a decorative frame around a photo or video Story. Mimics the old-school Polaroid look.
Map Integration - Lets you share your location on a map in Stories. Helps followers see your travel activity.
Anonymous Questions - Allows followers to anonymously submit questions which you can answer via Stories. Creates more engaging "ask me anything" style content.
AI Object Removal - A new AI-powered tool to erase unwanted objects or people from the background of Stories.
Stories to Feed Posting - Could allow resharing Stories content directly to your feed for more reach.
These changes modernize Stories and make them more interactive. For creators, features like anonymous questions and AI editing could spice up your Stories content.
Focus on features that help you creatively engage your audience vs. gimmicky additions.
10 Minute Reels Are Coming
Perhaps the most monumental upcoming change is support for 10 minute long Reels.
Currently, Reels are capped at 60 seconds like TikTok. But as Instagram becomes more of a long-form video platform, longer Reels open new creative possibilities.
Naturally, this poses the question - should you start creating 10 minute Reels as soon as the feature launches?
The answer is: it depends. Here are a few tips:
- Stick to shorter Reels if they currently perform well for your niche.
- Longer Reels let you share more educational/informative content - take advantage of that.
- Don't default to the max length - keep videos concise and tightly edited.
- Spend time crafting an engaging storyline and arc for 10 minute Reels.
- Analyze the data to see if longer Reels deliver results before pivoting your entire strategy.
In essence, adapt thoughtfully rather than assuming longer is universally better. Use the expanded time to create more compelling narratives - not just stretched-out content.
Addressing Legitimate User Complaints
Amidst the flashy announcements, Instagram is attempting to address legitimate user complaints as well.
For example, Mosseri acknowledged that the algorithm doesn't show enough friend content - a common refrain from long-time users.
Other potential changes meant to streamline Instagram include:
- Simplifying notifications/messages
- Removing redundant creation tools
- Reshaping Explore to focus on individuals vs. topics
These updates aim to clean up Instagram's increasingly cluttered interface and feed. A "back to basics" approach could help pull users away from the allure of TikTok.
For creators, these changes reinforce sticking to tried-and-true content styles that showcase your personality and foster engagement. Complexity and excessive innovation for innovation's sake will likely see diminishing returns.
Key Takeaways for Creators
Here are some top takeaways from Instagram's myriad upcoming changes:
- Leverage interactive Stories features to engage your audience in new ways. But focus on utility over flashiness.
- Thoughtfully take advantage of 10 minute Reels to share more educational, in-depth content. But retain a focused, concise style.
- Stay adaptable as Instagram tests changes to its main feed algorithms and sorting. Closely watch how your content performs.
- Prioritize community-building content that showcases authenticity and your brand identity. Don't get overly distracted by gimmicky features.
Ultimately, Instagram still offers immense opportunities for creators in 2023 with the right strategies. But do your own testing and stay nimble as it continues evolving at a dizzying pace.
What upcoming Instagram changes are you most excited or apprehensive about as a creator? Which new features do you plan to leverage? Share your thoughts below!