Instagram Features and the Future of Social Media

COVID-19 forced business owners to rethink the way they conducted business. When brick-and-mortar businesses were forced to close Instagram began to develop many solutions to help them get back on their feet. Tech Jury reports that 50.1% of the time we spend on our mobile devices is spent on social media. Over the past year, Instagram has developed new features that helped them transform from a social media app to a full-scale shopper and monetization app. Let’s discuss some of Instagram’s premier features you should be using.

“Support Small Business” sticker on Instagram

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Instagram decided to show their support for small businesses by creating a “Support Small Business” for Instagram stories. Users can show support for their favorite business owners; their story will be added to a shared Instagram story that highlights other businesses their followers supported through this sticker. Instagram is key for building a community, with these stickers you can show love to other business owners and connect with businesses in your niche. They remain committed to introducing features to help ease COVID-19 restrictions and we love it!


Instagram Shops

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Wouldn’t you love to transform your Instagram profile into a full-scale shopping experience? Facebook has made it easier for you to convert visitors into sales without leaving the Instagram app. Earlier this year, Facebook announced the introduction of Facebook Shops, which would enable users to build a shop on Facebook and Instagram. With the increasing presence of online shopping, Instagram Shops will become another pivotal way business owners were able to conduct business.

These shops are fully customizable, businesses can connect their product catalog, select which products they want to feature, add a cover photo to their shopper profile, and incorporate colors that highlight their brand. Instagram goes one step further, by placing a shop icon on the Explore Page. This allows users to purchase products from the brands they love and discover new brands based on what they’re searching for!. The Explore Page is not the only place users can go to find their favorite products, if you follow certain brands, you can shop from their feed and their stories. Business owners will have the ability to tag their posts with links or product stickers, eliminating the need to tell users to “swipe up” or “click the link in my bio”. 

Simply put, if you want to showcase your brand and boost sales, you need an Instagram Shop.


Instagram Live

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Instagram Live is a fun, authentic, and unedited way for creators to connect with their audience. 82% of users have stated that they would prefer to watch a live video from their favorite brand than view a social media post. Instagram Live has given users the opportunity to connect with their fans on a more personalized level. Not only, do you get to show users a more transparent side of your brand, you also get to actively engage with them. Before, users could post comments on live videos, and creators would scroll or answer as they appear. Now, users can submit questions during the live and you can respond and share the question via the question mark icon. 

But, that’s not all, you can also invite others to join your live and users filters while you are on live. Live videos are active for 24 hours, so even after you are finished, users can go to your story to video your video. But, wait! What about users who want to see the video after 24 hours? Instagram has a solution for that! Saw a makeup tutorial that you wish you could see again? Heard a song on live you loved and you want to hear it again? In May 2020, Instagram announced that you can now share your live videos to IGTV. Your original comments and views will not be available once it transfers to IGTV, but the content will remain the same. If you want to show your viewers an uncut version of you and your brand, IG Live is the best way to do it. 


IGTV Monetization 

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IGTV has been around since 2018, so why are we hearing more about it now? In 2019, it was reported that only 18% of users watched IGTV content. Monetization has been the barrier between catching up to YouTube and taking their spot as a video leader. 

Instagram has proven to be a platform that goes after their competitors and eats them up with new additions to their platforms. So, when they announced their plans to test monetization on IGTV, it came as no surprise. Instagram introduced IGTV Ads to help creators get monetized. 2 years after its introduction, they finally got the idea, give people money!  Creators will receive the same advertising share amount Facebook Watch and Youtube Creators get – 55%

The ads can last up to 15 seconds long and will only appear when users view IGTV videos through the Explore Page. Creators will receive the same advertising share amount Facebook Watch and Youtube Creators get – 55%

IGTV finally decided it was time to test monetization options for their creators, but is it too late? It’s never too late to make money, but it might be 13 years too late to beat out their biggest video competitor – YouTube … or is it TikTok now?


Messenger Rooms

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Remember what I said about Facebook always trying to take down their competitors? Facebook has created a Zoom alternative with Messenger Rooms. Messenger Rooms lives in Facebook Messenger, but you can invite users through Instagram or Facebook. These rooms can hold up to 50 people and you don’t need an Instagram or Facebook account to join. You can invite friends from Instagram and the room will open in Facebook Messenger.

Do you need to have a meeting with your employees? Do you want all your friends in one place? Messenger Rooms give you the opportunity to build a community through video! You can set limits on who can join, or you can make it public. You can even remove people and lock the room. Facebook is seeking to position itself and its platforms not only as a social networking site but also as a one-stop-shop to conduct business. 


Instagram Reels

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Even if 2020 hasn’t been the year for us, it’s definitely been a premier year for Instagram. When TikTok hit our phones, Instagram felt their world shake.TikTok had 1 billion users within two years of their global launch, I think I would be worried, wouldn’t you? The Facebook team was determined to make sure we never had to leave their app for anything, so what did they do? They created Instagram Reels. Though there are differences, Reels is TikTok’s newest competitor. 

Reels allows users to create 15-second videos with their choice of audio. There is an audio library for creators to utilize or they can record their own soundtrack, just like TikTok! Users have a selection of editing tools to help users create high-quality content such as filters or editing video speed. Instagram has added a tab to their Explore Page to make it easier for viewers to find Reels. Personally, I still love TikTok, but with more organization and structure Reels could be a gamechanger. With all the talk of the presumed ban of TikTok, this seems like the perfect time for Instagram to swoop in and save the day. I think I like that there is an isolated app that shows me personalized, curated content, TikTok does what Reels hasn’t completely done yet. Will Reels be the new TikTok? We will find out soon enough. 


Social media is constantly evolving, no one keeps up more than Facebook and Instagram. Mark Zuckerberg and his team have successfully managed to transform the way we utilize social media. In the world of business and marketing, organic engagement is a key factor in the success of your business. Your image directly relates to the success of your company. One of the best ways to show potential customers who you are is through your social media presence. Instagram is making it easy to create and push out high-quality content, all you need to do is take advantage. With all these new features, using them in conjunction could help yield top results for your business. So, what are you waiting for?

Eric Woodson
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