Instagram is celebrating its tenth birthday, and to mark the occasion, it’s added a couple of new, celebratory features and updates, ranging from visual additions to the expansion of its eCommerce tools.
The main celebratory element is its Stories Map, which provides a private look at where you’ve posted Instagram Stories from (when you’ve used a location sticker) over the past three years.
Which is interesting, but it also serves as a reminder that Instagram is tracking you and your movements, even within your seemingly ‘disappearing’ Stories.
Of course, publicly posted Stories which include a location sticker are already searchable within the app, providing additional perspective on what else people are posting about in that location, so it’s not a huge stretch in terms of functionality. It just might feel a little invasive, and serve as a reminder of Facebook’s data tracking capacity, as an aside from providing the retrospective buzz that Instagram would be hoping to inspire.
Instagram’s also adding a range of variable icons for the app, aligning with the iOS-14-inspired trend of customized home-screens, which has seen many users posting screenshots of their new iPhone layouts online.
Now, you can choose from a range of app icons to better suit your custom theme. The new icons were spotted in testing by Chris Messina late last month, and can be accessed by:
- Updating your Instagram app to the latest version
- Heading to your profile, then tapping the 'Settings' cog icon
- Drag the screen down in the main menu to reveal the hidden app icons listing
????♀️✨ How to activate Instagram's hidden birthday featurepic.twitter.com/S20CxT28Xk— Matt Navarra (@MattNavarra) October 6, 2020
In addition to these more fun, personal additions, Instagram has also added in-stream shopping for IGTV this week, which sees a new shopping bag icon added to IGTV videos when shopping tags are applied by the creator.
That could add another motivator for brands and influencers to use IGTV - while maybe more interesting, Instagram also has noted that a similar shopping tab for Reels will also be coming soon.
eCommerce is a key element of Instagram’s growth strategy, and along with the addition of Shops, adding more, streamlined ways to buy products in-stream will be critical to maximizing the platform’s revenue potential. Instagram added shopping tags in Stories back in 2018.
Shopping in Reels could be particularly interesting – one of the more underrated elements of potential in TikTok’s projected rise is in-stream shopping, which has become an essential element of the Chinese version of the app, called ‘Douyin’.
Douyin generated over $122 million in revenue last year, mostly via eCommerce, not direct advertising. That’s more than 2x what TikTok brought in, and if TikTok is to reach its full monetization potential, it will also need to tap into shopping and facilitating purchases from its short video clips.
That’s why Walmart is looking to partner with Oracle in buying out the app – and if TikTok can successfully bridge that gap, and generate significant revenue via eCommerce, that could lead to major opportunities.
No platform has successfully monetized short-form video in western markets as yet. In-stream shopping could be the key to unlocking that potential, which is why Instagram is looking to add the same to Reels, just to make sure it keeps tabs on its key rival. Just in case.
Instagram has also shared some new usage updates, along with an overview of the app's history and growth.
Among its usage insights, Instagram has shared that:
- 900 million emoji reactions are sent within the app each day
- 50% of Instagram users watch a video in-app every day
- KPOP is the No. 1 most-discussed music genre among IG users
- More than a million posts mentioning “meme” are shared daily
But the key stat that stood out is this:
“The average user sends 3x more DMs than comments”
That’s particularly important when you consider that Facebook is working to integrate its various messaging tools, and add more ways for users to connect in private via Instagram, as opposed to posting to their main feed.
The initial excitement of being able to post publicly on social has been overtaken by judgemental division, which has slowly pushed people into more and more enclosed spaces to avoid triggering arguments and disagreements over what you share online. That’s made messaging a much bigger tool for connection, and while people are still posting regularly, and Stories have seen a big jump, messaging has emerged as the key connector in the last two years.
These stats from Instagram underline that growth once again, and while private messaging is not the ideal vehicle for marketing at scale, it’s worth considering such usage in your strategic planning.
It's interesting to consider how Instagram has evolved over the last decade, and how social media usage overall has changed the way we interact and engage. And while these new additions provide a means join in the celebration, the milestone also serves as a time to reflect on where social media, more generally, is headed, and where we might be place in another ten years.