Even in spite of all the craziness happening in the world, Instagram has delivered yet again with a handful of new features that advertisers, marketers, and creators can eagerly look forward to.
It’s been a busy month for the developers over at Instagram, so let’s dive in and see all the new features in-depth and discuss what they mean for you.
This month, we’re getting a first look at monetizing IGTV ads, monetizing lives, a new test for shopping tags, a continued push to the Messenger and Direct integration, and some information about how Instagram will address racial inequality on the platform.
New Paid Badges for Creators’ Lives
Instagram knows that influencers (aka “creators”) on the platform carry an enormous amount of weight and are, in some ways, pretty central to the platform itself.
Users and brands love creators, and they can actually drive more users over to IGTV, which they’re desperately hoping to do.
Because of this, Instagram is offering new ways for creators to make money on the platform, especially given the tough and uncertain economic times.
The last thing they want is to have their entire audience (influencers and all their audiences) to go flocking to TikTok instead.
One of the new features they’re offering creators is “badges,” which users can purchase during a creator’s IGTV live. These badges will appear next to the user’s name throughout the entire live.
They’ll also get additional features, like having their comments stand out (and therefore making them more likely to catch the eye of the creator) and they’ll gain access to the creator’s list of badge holders.
Testing for badges starts next month, and small beta-testing will take place before expanding to the US, Brazil, UK, Australia, France, Italy, Germany, Turkey, Spain, and Mexico in “the coming months.”
To be considered for early access, you can sign up for the beta test here.
New IGTV Ads for Monetization
Big news! Ads are now coming to IGTV. Short video ads will appear when users click to watch someone’s IGTV videos from the video’s preview in their Instagram feed.
These ads will be mobile-friendly, using a vertical format and a maximum run time of fifteen seconds.
Creators who are using IGTV and working to send traffic that way can directly benefit from this, because when users click on their IGTV video preview and see an ad, the creator gets a share in the advertising revenue.
Because IGTV ads are brand new (and offer monetization for Instagram in addition to their creators), they’ll be testing different ad “experiences” throughout the year to see what works best.
This may include the ability to skip an ad after a certain number of seconds, for example.
The goal is to find a solution that works well so that creators don’t lose views, advertisers actually get successful results, and users are happy.
Personally, we’ve just been waiting for IGTV ads to roll out so Instagram and Facebook can have more mobile placements (and thus make more money).
This isn’t a huge surprise, and since in-stream video ads work well for creators on Facebook now, this is a natural extension of that feature.
Instagram Testing Post Caption Shopping Tags
Instagram has made some big strides with on-platform shopping, and even just last month rolled out an updated version of Instagram shops for businesses. (Check out our update from last month at the bottom of this post for more about this).
Now, they’re giving us something new.
As of right now, businesses can only tag their posts’s images and Stories with clickable product tags.
Instagram, however, is currently looking to change that and is testing shopping tags that you can add to a post’s caption.
Theoretically, brands will be able to use this, but influencers might be able to, too, particularly during sponsored campaigns.
This gives you a new way to talk about your product and drive clicks and hopefully conversions, and I have a hard time believing this won’t be effective.
Continued Testing of Messenger & Direct Integration
We’ve known since the end of 2019 that Facebook had big plans to integrate Messenger, Direct messaging on Instagram, and WhatsApp to create one seamless, streamlined communication tool that can be accessed from all three apps.
Some early adopters noticed that there is a test going on offering select users the option to “Get Messenger on Instagram.”
Instagram has confirmed that these tests are taking place and that this is the ultimate goal, but also stressed that they’re very early in the testing process.
Ultimately, it will benefit users and marketers/brands alike to have a single, streamlined direct message option for multiple platforms.
It will make it easier for us to keep up with incoming messages from users, allowing us to respond quickly and to engage meaningfully.
It will be a little while still before we see a true, full integration, but this is exciting news.
Outlined Steps to Address Racial Inequality
Recent events have pushed racial inequality into focus, demanding individuals, businesses, and society as a whole to address what’s actually happening in our countries.
Many businesses are stepping up, committing to do what they can to do their part.
Instagram is one of them. The chief of Instagram Adam Mosseri posted an emotional video talking about how the platform has participated in the Black Lives Matter Movement, but also acknowledging where the platform could have done better.
In order to take ownership of this, Mosseri outlined steps the platform would be taking to address racial inequalities in the coming months.
These include the following:
- Looking to address any issues in their policies that can cause different groups to be exposed to more harassment or abuse.
- Ensuring that there’s no endemic bias in how verification is approved, preventing bias towards certain groups of people.
- Checking to make sure that there’s no bias in how content is selected for their Explore or Hashtag sections, including reviewing “shadowbanning.”
- Evaluating their algorithm, to ensure that there are no repeating patterns like racial bias that hurt certain brands or users.
It will take time for Instagram to thoroughly conduct this research and to offer solutions as needed, but this is still a great start.
The past few months, Instagram’s new features have felt reactive; they’re adjusting quickly to the new world that we’re living in, offering new features that will benefit brands, creators, and users as quickly as possible.
This is good, and it shows an adaptability that will benefit the platform and its users for years to come.
What do you think? Which of these updates is your favorite? What are you most excited about? Share your thoughts and questions in the comments section below!