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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:

Following the massive success of online shopping through Facebook and Instagram, Facebook announced it is bringing Shops to WhatsApp along with a slew of other new e-commerce features.

According to the announcement, nearly 75% of people said they use Facebook-owned social networks to discover brands or products online. 

Even more, some industries have seen wild gains with over 85% of people surveyed saying they had purchased a fashion, beauty, furniture, or electronic product they first found through a Facebook platform. 

Now, the company’s goal is to streamline the process while bringing in new features and expanding shopping capabilities to the often forgotten WhatsApp.

To achieve this goal, the latest updates include:

  • Bringing Shops To More Places
  • Introducing Customer Reviews on Instagram
  • Creating Personalized Shop Ads
  • Opening AR Features To More Brands

Let’s look at each of these a bit more in-depth.

Bringing Shops To More Places

Facebook Shops on WhatsApp and Marketplace

When setting up a Shop, brands have been presented with two options for where their products can appear: Facebook and Instagram. Now, those options are finally getting expanded. 

First, brands in the U.S. will have the option to also showcase their products in Marketplace.

With over one billion people using Marketplace every month, it only makes sense that Facebook would be making it easier to get their products included.

Additionally, businesses in several countries around the world are also getting the ability to put their shop on WhatsApp, the popular Facebook-owned message and phone call app. 

With this, users will be able to browse your entire product catalogue, share products with friends, and ask you questions they might have about your products without leaving the app. 

Best of all, you only have to set up your store once to have it up and running on all three apps. 

Introducing Customer Reviews on Instagram

In the coming months, users will begin getting the ability to rate and review products they’ve purchased in Shops on Instagram. 

Instagram Product Reviews

Similar to most modern online product reviews, users will be able to leave a simple star rating, write a longer in-depth text review, and share pictures of the real-life products with others. 

Brands will also be able to leave responses to address any concerns or manage customer-service opportunities. 

As the announcement says:

“We always want shoppers to feel confident in the purchases they make, so we’re giving people more information before they buy…

“These changes will help people make more informed decisions on what to buy, and will let businesses know if they are meeting customer expectations.”

Creating Personalized Shop Ads

Facebook is introducing a new type of personalized ads for shops which will showcase curated collections to those most likely to purchase. 

Personalized Ads For Product Collections

By comparing past shopping behavior, the platform is attempting to connect users with the products most likely to excite them. 

Facebook says:

“Personalized ads are often the beginning of the shopping journey and businesses want to offer shopping experiences that are seamless and personalized. That’s why we’re introducing Shops ads solutions that provide unique ads experiences based on people’s shopping preferences.”

Opening AR Features To More Brands

Augmented Reality (AR) has been predicted to be a major force in product advertising since the earliest days of the internet, and it is finally making good on that promise. 

Smartphone cameras and increasing processing ability are making it possible for users to virtually “try on” products without having to deal with dirty dressing rooms or pushy attendants. 

The last hurdle is making these tools widely available to brands that don’t have millions to spend on developing AR systems. 

That is exactly what Facebook is hoping to do by developing new APIs that will make it easier for brands to integrate AR into their product catalogues. 

The APIs will begin rolling out to beauty product brands in the near future, with support for other industries coming shortly after. 

Along with these features, the social network says it is testing a new ad format which would use AR technology to allow users to “try on” products from your ads. Though it is only in testing currently, Facebook says it expects to roll out the ads to more brands by the end of the year.

YouTube is the most popular social network among American adults according to a large new study from Pew Research Center.

The new report includes findings on social media use among adults from a nationally representative phone survey conducted earlier this year.

Overall, the results showed that social media usage has largely remained stagnant over the past few years, with just two notable exceptions.

“YouTube and Reddit were the only two platforms measured that saw statistically significant growth since 2019,” the reports stated.

Out of all platforms, YouTube had the highest usage with 81% of adults who used any kind of social media saying they used the video streaming service. 

Facebook unsurprisingly came not far behind, with 69% saying they use the platform. In third place was Instagram with 40% of respondents saying they use the social network. 

You can see the full list of social networks and the percent of US adults who use them below:

  • YouTube (81%)
  • Facebook (69%)
  • Instagram (40%)
  • Pinterest (31%)
  • LinkedIn (28%)
  • Snapchat (25%)
  • Twitter (23%)
  • WhatsApp (23%)
  • TikTok (21%)
  • Reddit (18%)
  • Nextdoor (13%)

As the report concludes:

“YouTube is the most commonly used online platform asked about in this survey, and there’s evidence that its reach is growing. Fully 81% of Americans say they ever use the video-sharing site, up from 73% in 2019. Reddit was the only other platform polled about that experienced statistically significant growth during this time period – increasing from 11% in 2019 to 18% today.”

Beyond these broad findings, the report also includes demographic breakdowns for each platform and other findings, which you can see below:

YouTube Usage Statistics

  • 95% of US adults ages 18 to 29 say they use YouTube
  • 91% of US adults ages 30 to 49 say they use YouTube
  • 49% of US adults ages 65 and older say they use YouTube
  • 54% of YouTube users say they visit the site daily
  • 36% of YouTube users say they visit the site several times a day

Facebook Usage Statistics

  • 70% of US adults ages 18 to 29 say they use Facebook
  • 77% of US adults ages 30 to 49 say they use Facebook
  • 73% of US adults ages 50 to 64 say they use Facebook
  • 50% of US adults ages 65 and older say they use Facebook
  • 70% of Facebook users say they visit the site daily
  • 49% of Facebook users say they visit the site several times a day

Instagram Usage Statistics

  • 71% of US adults ages 19 to 29 say they use Instagram
  • 52% of Hispanic Americans say they use Instagram
  • 49% of Black Americans say they use Instagram
  • 35% of White Americans say they use Instagram
  • 59% of all Instagram users say they visit the site daily
  • 73% of 18- to 29-year-old Instagram users say they visit the site every day
  • 53% of 18- to 29-year-old Instagram users say they visit the site several times a day

Other Usage Statistics

  • 46% of Twitter users say they visit the site every day
  • 65% of 18- to 29-year-olds say they use Snapchat
  • 2% of adults ages 65 and older say they use Snapchat
  • 50% of 18- to 29-year-olds say they use TikTok
  • Those with higher levels of education are more likely to use LinkedIn than those with lower levels of education
  • 51% of US adults with a bachelor’s or advanced degree say they use LinkedIn
  • 28% of US adults with only some college experience say they use LinkedIn
  • 10% of US adults with a high school diploma or less say they used LinkedIn
  • 46% of women use Pinterest, compared to 16% of men
  • Adults living in urban (17%) or suburban (14%) areas are more likely to say they use Nextdoor
  • 2% of rural Americans say they use Next-door

To view the full report, click here.

On October 24, Facebook and Instagram plan to roll out a major change which has the potential to break content across millions of sites using WordPress.

On that date, the companies will remove functionality which allows sites to embed content from the social networks. 

The change does not only mean that publishers will no longer be able to embed this content on their websites. The change is retroactive, meaning that all content ever embedded on your site could potentially become inaccessible or broken. 

There is one exception – though it will likely be impractical for many out there. 

The change is removing support for unauthenticated Facebook and Instagram embeds, meaning that those with a developer account and a registered Facebook account will still be able to link content between their app and Facebook or Instagram. 

The Technical Changes

To get into the nitty-gritty – Facebook is deprecating the current oEmbed endpoints for embeddable Facebook content on October 24, 2020. oEmbed is a popular open format means of embedding content from one site to another. 

The Facebook integration of oEmbed endpoints has allowed pages to quickly and easily embed HTML or basic content from pages, posts, and videos on their own site or app. Unfortunately, that aspect of the Facebook API is being removed. 

In response, WordPress has also said it will be removing Facebook and Instagram as supported oEmbed sources.

What You Can Do

As expected, developers began work on ways to fix content or prevent losing access as soon as the announcement was made. 

So far, there are two major options for those wanting to keep support for embedded Facebook and Instagram content on their websites:

oEmbed Plus – Developer Ayesh Karunaratne has created an expanded version of the existing system for embedding content from Instagram and Facebook which provides a workaround. 

Even using the plugin, you will have to register for a Facebook developer account and “create an app”. However, you don’t have to actually develop an app, just register one with the site. 

You can see the guide for the plugin here for an idea what the process entails.

Smash Balloon Plugins – Developer Smash Balloon has provided a potentially easier option by updating their previous plugins to provide continued support – no developer account or app required. This is possible because Smash Balloon is effectively using its own API key to provide authentication for embedded content to users. 

Instagram is making it easier for small businesses to get the most out of Instagram Shops with a new mini-site full of resources, guides, and set-up tools. 

Instagram Shops is a free way for businesses to set up an online store and complete sales on one of the most popular social networks.

While Shops require third-party e-commerce parties to handle payment, they make it possible for people to complete the entire purchase without ever needing to leave the Instagram app – making the entire process seamless. 

Since Instagram Shops only launched in May, many businesses may not even know Instagram Shops exist or how to get in on the action for themselves. So, Instagram took the step of putting as many resources in one place as possible to help get started. 

‘The Season For Shops’

The new mini-site is called ‘The Season for Shops’ and caters to brands trying out Instagram Shops for the first time. 

The most important features include:

Setting Up Shop

First and foremost, this guide provides step-by-step instructions for setting up your storefront, including signing up for and connecting accounts across platforms.

Help Guides

Once you’ve got your shop set up, these guides will help you take the next step to make your products easy to browse and purchase. 

Tagging Products

Tagging products in your feed posts, stories, and streams allows people to immediately browse and buy your products as soon as they see them. This is key for making it convenient to go from scrolling through your feed to clicking buy.

To help you get started tagging your products effectively, The Season for Shops site has two guides available:

  • Start Tagging: A 19-page guide with detailed information on the variety of product tag types.
  • Tag With Purpose: A simple guide to the do’s and don’ts of tagging.

Collections

Another important way to make your products easy to browse is by grouping related products into Collections. 

This allows users to browse through your products like any category on your store website. It can also gather related themes like “beach outfits” or “rainy day apparel”.

Find out how to make the most of collections with an 8-page guide outlining all the details and tricks you can use. 

Shopping Ads

Want to take your shop to the next level? By investing a bit of money for shopping ads, you can share your products with a wider audience and increase the chance of finding new customers. 

This can be as simple or complicated as you want to make it, with simple “boosts” which amplify the number of people who see your store or targeted ads which specifically connect with those most likely to purchase. 

As such, Instagram released three guides explaining everything from the basics to more advanced shopping ad strategies:

  • Holiday Shopping Ads Strategy: A simple motivational guide with ideas for advertising in the upcoming holiday season.
  • Set Up Shopping Ads: A 9-page “get started” guide with information explaining what shopping ads are, how to set them up, and how to monitor your results.
  • Custom Shopping Audiences: This 7-page guide details how to target your ads to specific audiences of ideal buyers. 

To check out all the guides for yourself, explore the ‘Season for Shops’ mini-site here.

Instagram has begun showing postings for users you don’t follow when you’re all caught up on posts from those you do follow. The decision is not without controversy, however. 

Starting this week, users are seeing a new “Suggested Posts” section filled with content similar to those they already follow. The section doesn’t appear until you’ve scrolled past everything shared from people you follow and you have seen the “You’re All Caught Up” screen. 

Though brands, marketers, and publishers may be excited about Instagram introducing organic related content into users’ feeds for the first time ever, the user base has largely been critical of the decision. 

What Are Instagram Suggested Posts

Once users have scrolled to the “You’re Caught Up Screen” they are now seeing an option to “View Older Posts”. If selected or the user continues to scroll, they will be shown an infinite feed of suggested posts. 

Aside from the banner showing that you are viewing older posts, there is no indication that the content is being automatically selected based on your past browsing behavior. 

One complaint many have had is that Instagram already has a dedicated “Explore” section for finding posts and accounts you might be interested in. However, the actual content in these sections differs. 

The Difference Between Instagram Suggested Posts and Explore

Though they share some similarities, Suggested Posts are distinct from the Explore section in some key ways. 

Primarily, Instagram intends for Suggested Posts to be a curated collection of content based on your interests and activity. On the other hand, the Explore section is intended to be an extension of the search function on the platform, allowing you to explore broad topics and interests. 

As Instagram explains in a help center article, the content highlighted in the Suggested Posts section is largely defined by your own behavior:

“These suggestions are based on posts from accounts like the ones you follow and posts similar to the ones you like or save.”

You can also flag posts if they are particularly not of interest to help better refine the content shown to you in the future. To do this, just tap the three-dot icon at the top of the post and select the “Not interested” option.

Another distinction is that Suggested Posts will exclusively feature photos and videos, with no IGTV or Reels content allowed. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, the explore section will also include promoted posts and other types of ads. 

Why The Decision is Controversial

Complaints about the decision have largely been focused on three issues:

  1. Users are not accustomed to seeing content they didn’t sign up for in their primary feed.
  2. Creating an infinite scrolling feed could encourage users to spend excessive amounts of time on the platform.
  3. The infinite feed makes Instagram too similar to TikTok.

The first complaint is to be expected. Any time a social network has introduced organic content from outside your friends list or follows, users have revolted – whether we are looking at Facebook’s feed or going all the way back to MySpace. 

To get an idea how users feel about the decision, just look at some tweets from users over the past few days:

Still, it is possible the feature may gain acceptance as users get accustomed to it. Only time will tell. 

As for the second complaint, director of product for Instagram, Robby Stein, attempted to address the issue upfront:

“Our goal is to make it clear when you’re all caught up so you can decide how you want to best use your time.

We see people continuing to seek out more posts they’re interested in after catching up with their feeds, so we wanted to learn from that and make it easier to go a little deeper for those who choose to do so.”

Lastly, concerns about Instagram looking a little too much like TikTok may prove to be shrewd positioning on the part of the platform. TikTok is currently facing a ban from operating in the United States unless the owning company ByteDance sells operations in the country. 

As the 45-day deadline grows closer, little progress seems to be happening which raises the distinct possibility that users may soon be looking for an alternative. 

With this and a few other recent moves, it is clear Instagram is hoping to be that replacement. 

It was only a matter of time. Following TikTok’s meteoric rise to popularity, Instagram is taking the social network on head-on with its own short videos called Instagram Reels. 

While the Facebook-owned platform has supported video content for years, Reels shares several key features that made TikTok a hit, including the ability to include licensed or original music.

Specifically Instagram Reels features:

  • Users can create and share 15-second videos.
  • Can include audio including songs from a catalog of licensed music.
  • Users can upload their own audio or grab audio from other videos to use in their own videos. 
  • Instagram will also be creating a dedicated section in the Explore tab of the app, where users can find “Featured Reels”.

How To Create Reels

Creating a Reel is similar to taking a photo or creating any video on Instagram. Just open the in-app camera and slide the menu at the bottom to “Reels”.

Once selected, you’ll find a number of tools including a few specific to Reels:

  • Audio: Find a song in the Instagram music library or record your own audio.
  • AR Effects: Include visual effects from Instagram’s gallery.
  • Align: Line up objects from your previous clip before starting your latest video.
  • Speed: Speed up the audio or video you’ve selected.

Once you’ve gotten your song selected and set up any effects you want to use, just press and hold the capture button. 

You can also combine a series of short clips into a single Reel.

Once you’ve finished recording and editing, you’ll be taken to a sharing screen. By default, Reels will be added to a dedicated tab on your profile. You can also choose to share the clip to your Feed ensuring all your friends will see it. 

Why This Matters

Over the past couple years, TikTok has gone from an up-and-coming platform for kids to be goofy on to a bonafide part of online culture. 

Still, many are hesitant to add another social network to their life by signing up for TikTok. With Instagram Reels, they can get in on some of the fun without creating a new account for another platform.

There is also the issue of TikTok’s recent place in world news. The Chinese-owned social network has been accused of gathering immense amounts of user data and sharing it with the Chinese government. 

Over the weekend, these accusations escalated when President Trump threatened to ban the platform from the U.S. unless parent company ByteDance sells TikTok’s US operation to Microsoft. In an unprecedented move, the President also demanded the U.S. government receive a cut for approving any such sale.

It is unclear how banning the platform would work and the Chinese government has strongly condemned the threats from President Trump. 

With all this in mind, though, there is plenty of reason to keep an eye on Instagram Reels as a potential successor.

Major changes are coming to Facebook as the company tries to balance a more privacy-focused approach with several new features aimed at encouraging people to interact with their Facebook accounts more.

At the company’s F8 developer conference this week, Facebook announced a wide range of features, changes, and redesigns which will roll out over the next year.

At the same time, representatives from Facebook hammered home the importance of privacy and protecting data with more advanced encryption and a huge redesign to shift how people use the platform.

The Redesign

Leading the pack of changes is Facebook’s most significant visual overhaul since its launch. While the most noticeable difference is the removal of blue on the page to create a more vibrant space for you to explore, it also holds many deeper revisions which intend to change how we use the platform.

For example, the interface will now highlight more Groups and private messages to make the platform feel more cohesive.

The redesign is already rolling out on Android and iOS mobile devices, though the company says it will take a few months for the full update to go live. Meanwhile, Facebook says it will begin testing the desktop redesign in the “next few months” before bringing it to the public.

Facebook Dating?

Facebook Dating

Image Source: Facebook

One of the most bizarre introductions during this year’s conference was the launch of a new feature called “Secret Crush” which allows users to pick nine of their friends which they have a crush on. Then, if any of those nine friends also select that user as a crush, they will be notified. If the attraction is not returned, however, the other person will never know.

Meet New Friends

In a similar (but less creepy) vein is Facebook’s coming “Meet New Friends” feature. As you might expect from the name, the opt-in feature aims to help connect people who share schools or jobs, or those who live in the same city.

Messenger Comes To Desktop

Image Source: Facebook

As part of an effort to make Facebook’s Messenger a more widely accessible platform, the company is launching a standalone version of the service for desktop computers. While Messenger has always been available on the desktop version of Facebook, it has been limited in several ways. For example, features like Group calling have been exclusive to the mobile app. With the launch of the desktop app, users will now be able to take advantage of all of Messenger’s features from any type of device.

Instagram Create Mode

Instagram Create Mode

Image Source: Facebook

Facebook isn’t the only platform getting an overhaul. Instagram also has several changes on the way, including a considerable reworking of the camera in Instagram Stories. With the new Create Mode, users can now create images for Stories that don’t come directly from their phone without extensive workarounds. Now, you can easily edit your Stories to create the images you want to share without leaving the app.

Instagram Likes Go Secret

Instagram Likes Disappear From View

Image Source: Facebook

One of the more surprising tests Facebook announced is that it will begin hiding the like count on photos and videos on Instagram in an effort to encourage people to pay more attention to the content and focus less on popularity contests.

In the test, followers will not be able to see a photo’s total likes or a video’s view count while viewing the content in their feed or visiting another user’s profile. However, the person sharing the content will still be able to look at their post’s metrics by tapping through a post. The test is expected to begin this week for users in Canada, though it is unclear when this might appear in the US.

Instagram has released a set of new features aimed to encourage better engagement and participation with followers, especially when live streaming or creating Stories.

Countdowns

 

Do you have a big event, announcement, or live stream coming up? Now you can highlight it with an interactive countdown sticker in your Instagram Stories.

Once you’ve created the countdown and set the time limit, you can easily insert it in all your stories to remind your audience about important events or promotions. You can also use the stickers to raise awareness of a limited-time offer that is expiring soon.

Followers who see the countdown can also choose to follow it, which will ensure they receive a notification when the countdown is over.

Question Stickers

One of the biggest ways people like to use Instagram’s live videos is to answer viewer questions. The only problem is this can get a bit hard to follow when you have lots of viewers asking questions back to back. It can also be hard for new viewers to know what question is being answered.

Now, viewers can create and share question stickers during live streams to make it easy for everyone to stay on the same page.

The stickers are easily browsable for streamers to pick from. Once chosen, the question will be shown at the bottom of the screen so that viewers know what question you are answering. You can see an example below:

Both of these features are now available for both iOS and Android users. However, broadcasting live videos is only available currently on iOS. Android users can still view the streams and share questions.

After the smash success of Stories on Instagram, the social platform is testing new features aimed at increasing engagement. Most notably, the company introducing more open-ended question features that let viewers interact more with the Stories they watch.

Currently, Instagram users have been able to include basic polls in their Stories with multiple-choice answer options. The only other way to interact with people sharing Stories was to message them directly.

Now, the company is testing expanding the feature by allowing Instagram users to share and respond to complex questions without having to DM. The goal is to make Stories a better tool to generate actual conversations between creators or brands, and their followers.

While the feature has been spotted by numerous people and Instagram has confirmed the test with reporters, little else is known – such as when it might be available to the wider public.

The move is just the latest effort by Instagram to emphasize video on their platform and capitalize on the success of Stories, which now draw more viewers than Snapchat’s total user base. The company recently launched an even larger video platform, IGTV, which allows users to create and share long-form video content.

During the announcement of IGTV, CEO Kevin Systrom laid out the company’s desire to emphasize video content and how it saw its place in the social ecosystem.

“On Instagram, people are watching 60 percent more video than they did just last year,” said Systrom. “An entirely new category of video now exists, and it’s being made by creators. Teens may be watching less TV, but they’re watching more creators online … That makes Instagram one of the largest and most engaged audiences anywhere in the world.”