What Are the Latest Updates to Instagram?

Social media is a fast-moving, ever-changing marketing phenomenon, and Instagram is no exception as the app has implemented new updates every single month this year.

Instagram will often test new changes for a select number of users and gather feedback before rolling them out permanently. Here are some the most recent updates that have altered our user experience:


With the rise of TikTok, competition is tough for Instagram. Content creators already know how valuable short snippets of video content can be to grab a user’s attention, but Instagram has had to act quickly to make it easier to browse and post videos with all the TikTok trimmings.

Reels were introduced this year as way to create 30-second fun videos with audio and effects that can be shared to your followers or to the wider Instagram community using reels in explore.

The latest update means they can now be accessed from the main home screen via the bottom navigation bar, and it will automatically generate new videos in the hope that users will discover content creators they enjoy and engage with their accounts.

Instagram Live

Instagram Live allows users to broadcast a video to their followers in real time, and unlike Facebook Live and Periscope, initially the videos would disappear after the live broadcast finished.

The length allowed for Instagram Live videos has now been extended from one hour to four hours and users have up to 30 days to save the recording.

Using live videos is a great way to share important business milestones, events or launches and interact with followers as they watch. Instagram will also notify your followers when you go live to encourage more views.

Keyword Search

Previously, when users wanted to search for a topic, the search tool would only search for posts or account bios using that topic as a hashtag.

Instagram has now added the ability to search for keywords or key phrases that feature within the post copy itself, even when the hashtag is not used.

This matches the way people search on Google and means we should tailor post content in the same way we use SEO for website copy.

Shop tabs and product tags

Instagram is becoming increasingly shoppable, and after introducing product tags earlier this year brands can now also tag products in sponsored posts.

These interactive adverts allow for a more seamless user experience as potential customers can immediately click through to the products featured and make a purchase.

Bridging the gap between a customer discovering your product and making the final purchase is an important step when targeting an audience with an ever-shortening attention span. Early signs suggest that shoppable ads have reduced the cost per purchase for businesses and could be a crucial tool for the future.

Sponsored content

Instagram is becoming increasingly monetised and a large amount of the content we consume is now paid for. However, Instagram has updated its code of conduct to make sure paid for posts are clearly labelled to avoid misleading users.

The update includes a prompt when posting content to remind users to indicate if their content is paid for or endorsed by a brand in any way.

Algorithm updates

The days of a chronological social media feed are long gone, and Instagram now tailors its users feeds based on interest, relationship, timeliness, frequency, following and usage.

This means that the more likely Instagram thinks it is that a user will engage with your post, the higher up their feed it will show; this is all based on what they like, comment on or are tagged in.

Consistency in posting remains one the most important factors for your profile by giving users more opportunities to interact with your content, and this includes the use of carousels, which will appear on the feed once for each image you use.

According to Instagram, feed rankings use comments, likes, reshares and (for video
posts) views to place your post. But as Instagram is currently trialling hiding likes in more countries it’s important to encourage users to save your posts too.

It’s also recommended to utilise your profile’s best time to post and remove inactive followers or fake accounts as they can do more harm than good for your account’s algorithmic ranking.

Although Instagram will continually change, it’s important to keep up to date and ensure you’re utilising it to its full effectiveness.

If you’re starting to think about how to push your Instagram or any other social media channels to the next level, then we’d love to help! Please get in touch with a member of our team here or find out more about our social media services here.