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Instagram is rolling out an update that expands its sensitive content filter in ways that may reduce how many people see some content.

Though the Sensitive Content Control was launched almost a year ago, in July 2021, the tool only influenced the type of content users saw in their Explore feed.

According to a new announcement, though, the newly updated version of this tool lets users control how much “sensitive content” they see across practically every section of Instagram including:

  • Search
  • Reels
  • Accounts You Might Follow
  • Hashtag Pages
  • In-Feed Recommendations
  • How Instagram is Controlling Sensitive Content

As the company explained, this does more than limit obviously inappropriate content, including graphic violence or illegal acts. It also covers “posts that don’t necessarily break our rules, but could potentially be upsetting to some people.”

This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Content showing violence, including fighting between individuals
  • Sexually explicit or suggestive content, such as people in see-through or revealing clothing
  • Content promoting controversial or dangerous products such as tobacco, vaping, adult products, or pharmaceutical drugs
  • Content promoting or showing cosmetic procedures
  • Content or pages which sell products or services targeting health, including weight-loss supplements

Following the new update, users can select between three different levels of sensitive content moderation:

  • Less: Restricts sensitive content to the greatest amount
  • Standard: The default state for all users, which automatically limits some sensitive content
  • More: Users over the age of 18 can opt-in to see the widest range of content, including sensitive content which does not directly violate Instagram’s rules and guidelines.

Why This Matters

While most upstanding brands are normally unaffected by these types of updates, this could potentially have a much wider effect on companies or pages across a huge range of industries. 

The undefined nature of what constitutes “sensitive content” raises eyebrows, especially when it includes some content many users may not find controversial or objectionable. Additionally, users are having some content filtered out by default and must essentially opt out of this tool if they are of age. 

This creates the potential for Instagram to start limiting the reach of content from many companies who had previously found success using the platform to reach their audience. How large the impact of this is yet to be seen. If you see a significant drop in the number of people seeing your Instagram posts in the next few weeks though, you probably know why.

As part of its ongoing effort to expand its video capabilities and be “no longer a photo sharing app”, Instagram says it is introducing new ways to promote and remix videos on the platform. 

Specifically, the company is rolling out new ways to build interest for scheduled live streams using banners, and the ability to remix any recorded video.

These updates seem positioned to make Instagram more competitive with both TikTok and Twitch, which are extremely popular with younger viewers and creators.

As Head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, explained in the announcement:

“We’re focused on building for teens and creators, and in the spaces of video and messaging. And these are within those themes.”

Below, we’ll explore both of the new updates in more detail.

Promote Scheduled Live Videos With Banners

When scheduling live videos on Instagram, streamers can now choose to highlight these upcoming streams using a special banner. When clicked, the banner also lets users set reminders for the live videos.

As Mosseri says:

“Creators have been able to schedule lives for a while now, but now, you can separate scheduling a Live from creating a feed post, or even now a story post, about that live. You also get a little badge on your profile that’s lets followers know, or anybody know that goes to your profile, that there’s a Live coming up and they can subscribe to be reminded.”

Notably, these banners can be used to promote one-time-only events and recurring streams on a channel.

Remix Any Video You Want

Instagram is expanding its ability to “remix” content to all videos on its platform.

Similar to TikTok’s video reactions, these remixes allow users to take existing videos and add their own reactions or to rework them into something entirely new.

Originally, this feature was limited solely to Instagram’s short Reels videos. Starting now, though, users can do this to any public video by tapping the three-dot icon in the right corner of videos and selecting “Remix this video.”

However, people who share videos must opt-in to having their content remixed by others.

For more, check out the video from Mosseri on Twitter:

Instagram is slowly rolling Instagram Subscriptions – a new subscription feature that would let creators on the platform make a regular income from their biggest fans.

Instagram Subscriptions works similar to Patreon or other online subscription-based platforms. Creators are able to completely control their subscription prices and offer special content or features exclusively for subscribers. 

Instagram Subscriptions Preview Image

At the moment, the special subscriber features specifically include:

  • Subscriber Lives: Broadcast live content exclusive to subscribers.
  • Subscriber Stories: Share stories that only your subscribers can see.
  • Subscriber Badges: Paying subscribers can add a badge to their comments, making them stand out as loyal supporters. 

As the announcement says:

“With Instagram Subscriptions, creators can develop deeper connections with their most engaged followers and grow their recurring monthly income by giving subscribers access to exclusive content and benefits, all within the same platform where they interact with them already.”

During the initial testing period, Instagram is limiting access to Instagram Subscriptions to just a small handful of creators. However, the company says it plans to expand access to many more people in the coming months, along with a variety of new tools to make the service more beneficial for creators and fans alike.

Instagram is finally giving almost all accounts a new way to share links with their followers through Stories, after previously limiting the feature to verified or influential accounts.

Before now, the only way for most accounts to share links on Instagram was on their profile page. This made it difficult to use the platform to drive traffic to a website or online store. Often, brands were forced to resort to third-party tools to share links with their content, typically to lackluster results. 

This all made Instagram a tricky prospect for brands considering marketing their products or services on the platform. 

While this is bound to be a step in the right direction, Instagram is yet to allow links to be shared in feed posts – a common feature on most social networks.

Here’s how to start sharing links on your own stories.

Adding Links To Your Instagram Stories

Sharing links in your Instagram stories is still a fairly unique process. Rather than just copy and paste your link into a description, the platform is introducing “Story Stickers”. These function like any other sticker, except you can add a destination link that sends users to the desired page when tapped.

To add Story Stickers with links to your stories, follow these steps:

  1. Record or upload your story content
  2. Select the sticker tool from the bar at the top of the screen
  3. Select the “Link” sticker and add your desired link.
  4. Tap “Done”
  5. Customize and place your sticker.

Who Can’t Use This

Although this makes sharing links possible for a great number more users than before, there are still some restrictions. Specifically, Instagram notes that Story Stickers are not available to “brand new accounts.” 

Presumably, this is intended to prevent spammers from creating fresh accounts to share low-quality or malicious links on the platform, though it is unclear exactly what constitutes a “brand new” account. 

Additionally, the company says that accounts found to repeatedly post hate speech, misinformation, or other content that violates Instagram community guidelines will have access to link stickers revoked. 

If you’d like to find out more about the new linkable Story Stickers, check out Instagram’s announcement here.

Facebook shared a new report this week which lists the hottest trends on its platform and Instagram in recent months. 

The latest edition of the Facebook and Instagram “Topics to Watch” report shines a spotlight on the top three topics from both platforms in the second quarter of this based on year-over-year data. 

Importantly, that means these are not the topics that had the most engagement overall. The report shows the trends which specifically showed the growth patterns most likely to lead to long-term popularity on Facebook and Instagram. This helps filter out flashes in the pan which become all the rage for a week and then fizzle out. 

The Topics to Watch On Facebook from Q2 2021

Wedding Receptions

  • 1.57x year-over-year growth
  • 1.20x month-over-month growth

Many couples are deciding now is the time to tie the knot after a year of delayed receptions or spending a year social distancing together. As such, interest in wedding receptions has shot up in recent months across Facebook and its platforms.

However, the impact of the pandemic is still clear since data suggests couples are still opting for smaller gatherings with less than 50 guests or even virtual ceremonies. 

Pop-Up Retail

  • 3.59x year-over-year growth
  • 1.02x month-over-month growth

Pop-up shops have been an increasingly popular trend for retailers in recent years, and recent events have only made them more appealing for both brands and consumers.

As Facebook explains, “Pop-ups can last anywhere from a day to a few months and offer an element of surprise and exclusivity for consumers” while allowing retailers to connect with new customers in untapped markets.

“As some people begin to feel comfortable shopping in-person again, pop-ups provide opportunities for consumers to enjoy a new type of retail experience and learn about all kinds of brands.”

Pet Sitting

  • 1.60x year-over-year growth
  • 1.25x month-over-month growth

After a year of their owners being home to give them constant love and affection, many pets may be experiencing loneliness or feelings of abandonment as companies return to in-office work and social events resume.

To help make the transition back to a regular work schedule easier on their fluffy family (and themselves), pet owners are increasingly seeking pet sitting services. At the same time, some who are looking for more flexible job options post-pandemic are showing interest in pet sitting as a fun way to help bring in more revenue.

Specifically, Facebook users are looking for more modern pet sitting services which allow pet owners to stay informed about their pets throughout the day, helping both pet and owner adjust to the time apart. 

The Topics to Watch On Instagram from Q2 2021

Family Reunion

  • 3.03x year-over-year growth
  • 1.69x year-over-year growth

In an effort to kill two birds with one stone, many are combining the desire to reconnect with family and make some new memories with destination family reunions. Not only does this give people a much-needed chance to get out of their homes, this approach also presents the chance to share the experience with your entire family. 

Of course, not everyone is planning a destination reunion. Data shows that more traditional reunions are also experiencing a rise in popularity on Instagram.

Car Rental

  • 1.81x year-over-year growth
  • 0.97x month-over-month growth

Continuing the theme of getting away from home, Instagram data indicates that car rental demand has grown since the removal of lockdown policies across much of the country. 

The issue has been made even worse (and helped drive interest in the topic) as the availability of rental cars has become limited and costs have shot up due to a microchip shortage slowing the production of cars. 

Drag Shows

  • 1.84x year-over-year growth
  • 1.41x month-over-month growth

Whether it’s related to the growing mainstream popularity of Ru Paul’s Drag Race or the need for excitement and new experiences post-lockdown, Instagram is seeing a surprising rise in interest in drag shows.

If you’re unfamiliar with the concept, the report describes a drag show as “a gender-bending art form put on by drag artists, or people who dress in clothes and makeup that amplify a specific gender identity, usually of the opposite sex.”

Notably, the report says that many drag shows have continued to be broadcast digitally to account for those who are uncertain about public events due to Covid and bring a feeling of unity or connection to those feeling isolated because of their identity or social distancing.

To see the full report, including even more data and analysis, click here.

Getting “verified” on Facebook or Instagram serves as a badge of honor, signifying your place as a notable brand or individual on the platforms. However, it isn’t always clear who counts as ‘notable’ and who will be denied the blue checkmark – especially as Facebook and Instagram have recently updated their guidelines for who can be verified. 

To make it clear who can be verified, how to get verified, and what comes with the special badge, Facebook recently shared an in-depth post about the verification process on the Facebook for Creators page.

What Is Verification?

One thing that Facebook wants to make very clear is that being verified is not an endorsement from the platform.

It will not help your rankings or visibility in users’ feeds or earn you favorability in any other way on the platform.

Being verified is just a signal of notability and authenticity – nothing more.

What Is Needed To Apply for Verification?

Along with a typical application form, Facebook also asks for a number of details to confirm that you are a notable person or organization. This includes:

Proof of Authenticity

Facebook requires that you provide a form of official documentation proving that you are the person in question or a genuine representative of the organization applying. This can be done by providing one of the following:

  • A Passport
  • A Driving License
  • Tax Filing
  • NI Card
  • Articles of Incorporation
  • A Recent Utility Bill

Select Your Category

Applicants must identify themselves as one of the following types of profiles or pages which are ‘in the public interest’:

  • News/Media.
  • Government and politics.
  • Sports.
  • Fashion.
  • Music.
  • Entertainer.
  • Gamer.
  • Digital creator / blogger / influencer.
  • Business / brand / organization.
  • Other.

Additional Details

Applicants can also provide optional extra details which describe your audience, reasons why people follow you, and their related interests. 

Along with this, you can provide up to five links to pages or profiles showing that your brand is ‘in the public interest’. 

To be clear, Facebook states that links to clearly promotional or paid content will be disregarded.

Further Notes from Facebook

The post also details some of the basic guidelines and standards for verified profiles and pages, particularly that applicants must be:

  • For an account that represents a registered business or entity, or be a real person.
  • For a public account – with a bio, profile photo, ‘about’ section, and has a minimum of one post.
  • For an account that has a unique presence – pets and publications are also eligible.
  • For an account that represents a highly-searched for and well-known brand, entity, or person.
  • For one account per person or business – with the only exception being for language-specific accounts.

A Word of Caution

Lastly, Facebook warns that getting verified does tend to come with increased attention from bad actors, including hackers, scammers, and impersonators.

As such, it recommends that verified accounts enable two-factor authentication and be watchful for copycats impersonating them.

Head of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, had been opening up recently in a series of blog posts about how the app surfaces content. 

First, he went in-depth on how the social app’s recommendation features find and highlight content in users’ primary feeds, as well as in stories, the explore section, and more.

Now, he is focusing on the app’s search engine, explaining how Instagram ranks search results and how to optimize content for the platform.

How Instagram Search Works

As with any modern search engine, the first and foremost goal of Instagram’s search feature is to find and return the most relevant results for an individual user’s query.

“Your search tells us what you’re looking for, and it’s noticeable when the results aren’t useful. It’s important for us to get this right, so we try to organize search results by what’s most relevant to you — whether it be a close friend, a creator you love, or ideas for vegan desserts.

“Let’s say you’re interested in finding pictures of space after seeing the blue moon. When you tap the search bar on the Explore page, the first thing you see is your recent searches. As you begin typing “space,” we show you accounts, audio, hashtags, and places that match the text of your search. In this case, results like @space and #space show up because “space” appears in their name.”

Instagram’s Top Three Ranking Signals

To deliver these results, Instagram looks at a number of factors including account data, hashtags, user engagement, and more. Specifically, Mosseri highlights three major ranking signals to pay attention to:

  • Your text in Search. The text you enter in the search bar is by far the most important signal for Search. We try to match what you type with relevant usernames, bios, captions, hashtags and places.
  • Your activity. This includes accounts you follow, posts you’ve viewed, and how you’ve interacted with accounts in the past. We usually show accounts and hashtags you follow or visit higher than those you don’t.
  • Information about the search results. When there are a lot of potential results, we also look at popularity signals. These include the number of clicks, likes, shares and follows for a particular account, hashtag or place.

Tips for Getting Your Content in Instagram Search Results

Mosseri goes on to offer three suggestions for optimizing your profile and posts for the app’s search engine:

  • Use a fitting handle and profile name. Search results are matched by text. Using an Instagram handle or profile name that’s related to the content of your posts is your best bet for showing up in relevant searches. If your friends or fans know you by a certain name, include that name in your username or profile so that you can show up when they search for you.
  • Include relevant keywords and locations in your bio. Same principle here. Make sure your bio includes keywords about who you are and what your profile is about. If your account is location-specific, like for a small business, sharing your location in your bio can make it easier for people in your area to find you.
  • Use relevant keywords and hashtags in captions. For a post to be found in Search, put keywords and hashtags in the caption, not the comments.

How Instagram Filters Unsafe Content

Of course, Instagram has to filter out its fair share of spam, inappropriate content, and problematic pages.

This is done by penalizing specific posts, accounts, and, on some rare occasions, entire hashtags.

As Mosseri explains:

“Accounts that post spam or violate our guidelines may appear lower in search results, and you may have to search their full username to find them. We also balance searches for sensitive topics with additional safety measures to make sure we don’t show you related content that could be harmful. Accounts, hashtags and posts that violate our Community Guidelines are removed from Instagram entirely, which prevents them from showing up in Search.”

Plans for the Future

Mosseri concludes his blog post by sharing a bit about the upcoming improvements Instagram plans to make to its search results. Notably, he says the company wants to make Instagram Search “more than just a way to find accounts and hashtags” by moving towards a “full search results page experience.”

“For example, your search for “space” will show you space-related photos and videos, too. This is especially helpful when you don’t have an exact username or hashtag in mind when searching for a certain topic.”

If you want to read Adam Mosseri’s full blog post about how Instagram ranks search results, click here.

In a video shared across social media recently, Adam Mosseri, head of Instagram, emphatically stated that the social network is about more than just sharing pictures. 

These days, the app has expanded into a more multifaceted social platform and will continue to by prioritizing four key aspects of its services.

Instagram’s Four Big Priorities Moving Forward

As a social network, Instagram’s first priority is and will always be its users, particularly the creators who fuel the platform with new engaging and exciting content every day. To further this goal, the company is emphasizing providing creators with ways to earn a living through new monetization approaches.

The second priority for Instagram is developing its video services. The social network has expanded the ways users can both create and discover videos and will continue to do so in the future. As other popular social video platforms like TikTok have provided new competition for Instagram, the platform is experimenting with new approaches to mobile-first video to keep users coming back to the social network.

Following the meteoric rise in online shopping during the COVID pandemic, Instagram is also prioritizing expanding its online shopping tools and services. While Mosseri didn’t offer specific steps Instagram is taking to achieve this goal, he said that he sees the shift to online shopping continuing to grow as shoppers find new ways to confidently and safely purchase the products they see across the platform.

Lastly, Mosseri says that Instagram is prioritizing bolstering its messaging tools. The company head explained that users are moving away from sharing everything publicly in their feeds and stories, and instead want more tools for sharing content in private messages.

Instagram’s Big Video Plans

Of the above priorities, Mosseri spoke most at length about Instagram’s big plans for investing in video tools and services moving forward.

Though the platform has widely been seen as a primarily photo-based app, Mosseri bluntly stated “we’re no longer a photo sharing app.” 

Instead, the company’s goal is to keep users entertained with a variety of content types.

Particularly, the company is working to bring itself inline with other massive social video platforms like TikTok and YouTube.

This is a broad initiative which will influence many of the company’s upcoming tools and features, with some being publicly tested over the next couple months. 

For example, one new test involving showing users video content from accounts they may not be following yet started rolling out last week, while another test allowing users to control which topics they want to see more or less of is being launched this week.

“We’re also going to be experimenting with how do we embrace video more broadly — full screen, immersive, entertaining, mobile-first video. And so you’ll see us do a number of things, or experiment with a number of things in this space over the coming months.”

If you want to see the full video statement from head of Instagram Adam Mosseri, check it out below:

By partnering up with a range of online marketplaces, Instagram is making it easier for brands and creators to establish shops that are directly accessible in the social network, as well as introducing new features for affiliate links and other ways to monetize your social media content.

Facebook and Instagram Emphasize Monetization Tools for Creators

The wave of new and upcoming monetization features and tools come as part of a broader initiative to attract creators and influencers to Facebook and Instagram by offering a broad array of ways to monetize your online presence.

As the announcement says:

“We want Instagram and Facebook to serve as a home base for creators to tell their story, grow and make a living.

“…Today’s updates are a big part of a broader effort to support creators as they build their careers. …we are committed to building the right mix of tools to help them accomplish their goals.”

As such, the new tools and features are designed primarily with social creators in mind. Still, many brands may see opportunities to diversify and monetize their online presence by also taking advantage of the latest Instagram and Facebook features.

Opening a Shop on Instagram Gets Easier

One of the more interesting new features for many smaller businesses and entrepreneurs will be the announcement that the social network is making it easier to launch a shop directly within your Instagram profile. 

By working with an array of merchandising companies, you can now quickly and easily set up and link stores, rather than manually establishing a version of your shop through Instagram.

“For creators who already have their own product lines, they can now link their shop to their personal profile in addition to their business profile.

“Creators will also be able to set up a new shop and drive excitement with exclusive product launches from the Instagram app by linking their account with one of our four merchandise partners: Bravado/UMG, Fanjoy, Represent, and Spring.”

Currently, the tool is limited to creators and brands in the US and may take through the end of the year to fully roll out.

Native Affiliate Links

The announcement also mentions another tidbit which may be attractive to brands with their own partnerships or to entrepreneurs is the testing of a “native affiliate tool” which lets you earn revenue from promoting other brands of products.

The tool streamlines the process of sharing affiliate links entirely within the Instagram app and ensures sponsored content is appropriately tagged for audiences.

“When people come across an affiliate post from a creator featuring a tagged product, they will see “Eligible for commission” at the top of the post, so it’s clear that their purchases help support that creator.”

Though currently limited to a small group of well-known brands and creators, the feature is expected to be more widely available somewhat soon.

“Affiliate will test with a small group of US-based creators and businesses including Benefit, Kopari, MAC, Pat McGrath Labs and Sephora, and will expand to more partners in the future.”


Social networks like Instagram and Facebook have been gradually expanding to include storefronts and marketplaces for some time. With these new features, it is clear they hope to ensure this benefits everyone involved, including the brands and creators helping to promote those products through partnerships.