The Latest Instagram Updates and Features You Need to Know About Right Now

The Latest Instagram Updates and Features You Need to Know About Right Now

Instagram is constantly rolling out new updates and features to improve the user experience. As content creators and social media managers, it's important to stay on top of these changes so we can utilize them for our brands and accounts. In this expansive blog post, I'll be breaking down the latest Instagram updates that you need to know about, based on a recent YouTube video.

Two New Instagram Reels Feeds

One of the biggest Instagram updates is the addition of two new Reels feeds - the Following feed and the Location feed.

The Following feed allows you to see Reels just from the accounts you follow, without any suggested content mixed in. This is great for visibility, as your followers are more likely to see your Reels in this feed. It provides a more personalized Reels experience.

The Location feed surfaces Reels based on geographic location, showcasing content from your local area. As a small business owner, this is an amazing opportunity for discovery! You can tap into audiences looking for products and services in their neighborhood.

To take advantage of the Location feed, make sure to use location tags and keywords relevant to your business' area in your Reels. This tells Instagram you belong in that localized feed.

Polls in Instagram Comments

Instagram now allows you to add polls to your comments on feed posts, just like you can in Stories. You get up to 4 options for poll choices.

Polls are a great way to engage your audience and get feedback. The algorithm also favors interactive content, so utilizing polls can help increase your reach and visibility.

Multiple Group Lists for Stories

You can now segment users into multiple group lists for stories, similar to Close Friends. So you could create separate lists like "VIPs," "Giveaway" etc. and target stories to each group. You're not just limited to Close Friends anymore.

This is perfect for delivering exclusive content or perks to your top fans and customers. You can ask people if they want to opt into specific lists for access. Each list can have up to 250 members.

A new collaborative carousel post option allows up to 9 other accounts to add content into your carousel post. They can submit a photo or video to be included in your post.

This is great for user-generated content campaigns. You could have followers submit photos for a contest or customers share their experience with your product. You can curate and select the best submissions to highlight.

Meta Verified for Business Accounts

The Meta verification badge, previously only for creators, is now available for business accounts too. According to Instagram, verified businesses will get increased visibility and discovery opportunities.

This likely means verified businesses will get preferences like appearing higher in comments and hashtags, increased reach etc. We'll have to test it out!

Custom Stickers in Stories

You can now easily create custom stickers within the Instagram Stories camera. Just tap any photo or video to extract it as a sticker and overlay it on your Story.

Brands could use this creatively with logos, product images, etc. Fashion accounts can style sticker “models” in their Stories. Take advantage of new creative tools when they are launched.

AI-Generated Stickers

Instagram is rolling out AI-generated stickers. You put in a text prompt and AI will create relevant sticker designs for you.

They also have an AI chatbot you can converse with to get inspiration, ideas, current events etc. And AI-generated characters with the likeness of celebrities like Kendall Jenner.

AI Image Editing

New AI capabilities will allow automated editing of photos, like filters, background changes etc. This offers some of the power of Adobe products without as much effort.

Threads will gain trending topics and search to help you discover new accounts and content. Other additions like polls, audio messages, and gifts aim to boost engagement.

Key Takeaways

The main themes in Instagram's latest updates are video, interactivity, personalization, and AI-based creative tools.

  • Leverage new Reels feeds for greater visibility, especially the Location feed for local businesses.
  • Use polls, group lists, collaborative posts etc. to engage your audience in new ways.
  • AI features can help generate content and edits more easily.
  • Meta verification provides an opportunity for increased reach and discovery.

Staying active with all these new features will keep your account competitive in 2023. Don't get left behind!

What do you think about Instagram's recent changes? Which updates are you most excited to try out? Let me know in the comments!

Detailed Breakdown of Key Instagram Updates

Let's dive deeper into some of the most important new Instagram features and updates that marketers need to know.

Two Reels Feeds for Greater Visibility

When Reels first launched, it was mixed in with your main Instagram feed. But Instagram has now separated it into its own Following and Location-based feeds.

This is a big deal, because it gives Reels more prominence. Your followers are more likely to see the Reels you create in these dedicated feeds than in the crowded main feed.

The Following feed shows Reels just from accounts you already follow. So you'll no longer see suggested Reels or accounts here - only people you consciously chose to follow.

For creators and businesses, this is great news. It means your followers will have more opportunity to discover the Reels you publish, rather than them getting lost in suggested content.

The Location feed highlights Reels based on geographic tags, showcasing content created near you. So let's say you tag your business location in Portland - locals in Portland can now easily find your Reels when browsing the Portland location feed.

This is an amazing update for local businesses trying to attract customers nearby. You can appear right alongside larger brands who also tag your area.

To fully capitalize on the Location feed:

  • Tag your posts with your business location's city/neighborhood
  • Use relevant local hashtags
  • Mention details unique to your city like landmarks, sports teams etc.

This tells Instagram's algorithm you produce locally-relevant content to surface to users browsing that Location feed.

Overall, these two new Reels feeds give businesses and creators a dedicated space to reach engaged audiences. Make sure you're publishing quality Reels consistently to take advantage.

According to a study by Meta, Reels already accounts for 20% of the time people spend on Instagram. And that number will likely grow rapidly with these new feeds promoting video content more than ever before.

Interactive Comment Polls

Polls and questions are coming to Instagram comments! Just like you can add polls to Stories, you'll soon be able to include polls when commenting on posts too.

You'll have up to 4 options to choose from when creating a poll comment. It's easy - just tap the new poll icon when writing a comment.

Followers who see your comment will be able to respond to the poll, see real-time results, and join the conversation.

This turns commenting into a two-way engagement. People love to share their opinion through polls, so it's sure to spark discussion.

For businesses, polls are a great way to survey customers and get product feedback. Or you could use them to crowdsource ideas for new content types to try on your feed.

The interactive nature of polls also signals to the Instagram algorithm that your posts are engaging. So utilizing this new feature can potentially increase your reach and visibility.

Polls in comments are still rolling out, but they'll be available to everyone soon.

Segment Audiences with Group Lists

Instagram is expanding their Close Friends feature into Group Lists. While Close Friends lets you share Stories with your inner circle, Group Lists allows creating multiple lists with different audiences.

For example, you could have groups like:

  • VIPs
  • Brand Ambassadors
  • Contest Entrants
  • Local Customers

With each list containing relevant followers. Then when you share a Story, you can select which group(s) to target it to.

This lets you segment your audience and send exclusive content or offers to specific subgroups who will value it most.

For instance, you could share a special promo code or sale only with your VIPs list to reward your top customers. Or ask locals to submit user-generated content of them using your product.

The ability to compartmentalize your followers into separate lists unlocks all sorts of creative marketing opportunities.

You can even incentivize people to join your lists like "DM me if you want exclusive early access to sales!" Then they'll feel special when you add them to a VIP group.

Lists currently max out at 250 members each, so this feature is better suited for medium-sized accounts with engaged followings, rather than massive mega-brands.

Co-Create Content with Collaborative Posts

Instagram is testing a new "Add Yours" collaborative carousel post option.

Here's how it works:

You create a carousel post as usual, but enable the "Add Yours" feature. This lets people respond to your prompt with their own photo/video, which gets added into your carousel post.

For example, you could create a post asking people to share their best cooking tips. When followers tap "Add Yours," they can submit a short cooking clip or image.

You can choose to include up to 9 of these collaborative submissions in your carousel. So it's a way to co-create and crowdsource content from your audience.

There are plenty of creative ways brands could leverage this:

  • Showcase user-generated content (UGC) of customers engaging with your product
  • Curate a post of fans recreating your recipes/DIY projects
  • Have followers style your clothing items and pick top looks to feature
  • Gather funny pet photos by prompting owners to submit their furry friends
  • Share event pics submitted by attendees of your in-person activation

The collaborative posts keep your audience engaged by making them an active participant rather than just a spectator.

You can re-share user submissions to your main grid, while they feel excited seeing their post on your popular account. It's a win-win for everyone.

The number of co-created posts you can display provides lots of variety to tell an engaging story with community contributions.

Verified Badges Expand to Businesses

Until now, Instagram's blue verification badge was limited to notable public figures, celebrities and select creators. But verified badges are expanding to business accounts for the first time.

According to Instagram, verified businesses will unlock new opportunities for reach and discovery. This likely means verified accounts will get preferences like:

  • Appearing higher in comments and hashtags
  • Increased visibility in the Instagram algorithm
  • More prominence in suggested/recommended content

Basically, the blue badge flags your account as "legit" which likely leads to better positioning in feeds.

While anyone could get verified through the separate "Instagram Blue" subscription before, this new business verification requires submitting incorporation paperwork. So it ensures real organizations get the badge, not just anyone willing to pay.

For established brands looking to improve visibility and trust signals on Instagram, getting verified could be a valuable investment. Especially with access to additional perks coming down the road.

We'll have to wait and see exactly how much impact business verification provides. But the blue checkmark certainly holds more weight and authority than non-verified accounts.

AI-Generated Creative Tools

Instagram is tapping into artificial intelligence in some interesting new ways:

AI-Generated Stickers: You can now use text prompts to have AI automatically create sticker designs for your Stories. Just describe the style/vibe you want and AI will generate a custom sticker.

AI Chatbot: Instagram's developing an AI chatbot that can have conversations and generate ideas or content for you to post. It scans current events so it stays timely and relevant.

AI Characters: Instagram licensed 28 celebrity faces to turn into AI-generated characters. Soon you may be able to add "AI Kendall Jenner" as a interactive persona in Stories.

AI Image Editing: Powerful AI capabilities will let you instantly apply filters, touch up photos, swap backgrounds and more with one click.

These AI tools aim to save creators time, provide inspiration, and simplify editing. While still in their early stages, they have lots of potential.

The stickers and image editing could be especially valuable for brands that need to produce frequent Instagram content. You can let AI give your posts an elevated, polished look with minimal effort required.

It will be interesting to see how far Instagram takes this AI technology. If the algorithms get advanced enough, they could allow individuals and businesses to scale up their content production.

The Key Takeaways

Here are the key points to remember about Instagram's latest updates:

  • Dedicated Reels feeds make it easier for your target audiences to discover your short-form video content.
  • Interactive features like polls and collaborative add-yours carousels boost engagement.
  • Group lists allow segmenting your audience to share exclusive Stories and offers.
  • Business verification opens up potential reach and visibility benefits for legitimate organizations.
  • AI-powered tools can automate creative tasks to generate more content faster.

Overall, the common thread across these updates is enhancing discovery and engagement - while making content creation easier.

As Instagram continues to evolve in 2023, staying on top of new features as they emerge is key for driving results. Don't leave potential growth opportunities untapped!

The Impact for Marketers

For marketers and social media managers, Instagram's constant testing and releases means we must diligently stay in learning mode.

What works best today likely won't be the most effective strategy a few months from now. Instagram's priorities rapidly change as they roll out new formats.

We have to be proactive about educating ourselves on each update and quickly adapting our tactics. Applying new features early allows us to rise above the competition.

But with limited time and resources, it's difficult to experiment with every single update right away. Instead focus on changes that align with your goals and audience.

For example, a local influencer-driven brand should immediately start tapping into the new Location Reels feed. But a company selling products nationwide might get better return optimizing its main feed posts.

Avoid overextending yourself chasing every trending feature. Consider what makes the most strategic sense for accomplishing your business objectives before overhauling your approach.

The most successful organizations strike a balance between sticking to their core strengths and judiciously incorporating advantageous updates.

Imagine how empowering it will feel to have an Instagram marketing strategy that fluidly evolves as the platform itself changes form month to month. This is possible for businesses who commit to ongoing education and adaptation.

By closely monitoring each update through channels like this blog, you'll get ahead of the curve. While competitors scramble to catch up, you'll lean into each new opportunity as soon as it emerges.

The brand that wins on social media is the one that never rests on their laurels or does things the way they've always been done before.

Final Thoughts

With frequent algorithm shifts and new features launching, the world of social media moves incredibly fast. This makes it harder than ever for brands and creators to gain an edge.

But you now have a detailed overview of the latest Instagram changes and what they mean for marketers.

The most important points to remember are:

  • Regularly check for Instagram's newest updates so you never fall behind
  • Identify updates that align with your brand and audience for focused implementation
  • Adapt your Instagram strategy based on format and algorithm shifts while staying true to your core strengths
  • Experiment quickly with beneficial new features to stay ahead of competitors

Armed with these takeaways, you have a blueprint to keep your marketing approach fresh, relevant and optimized even as Instagram evolves.

The brands that win on social media today are the ones unafraid to reinvent their strategies and content as needed to make the most of what each platform has to offer right now.

With Instagram, learning never stops. But brands willing to put in the continued education and effort required will discover tremendous opportunities for growth.

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