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Reviewing Instagram's Main Summer Updates

In the last month, Instagram has been busy making some interesting changes and upgrading some of the features on its platform, whilst giving users more leeway to create engaging content. Let’s run through some of the noticeable changes that Instagram has recently implemented.

6 min read

IGTV

One of Instagram’s recent and most noteworthy additions was the introduction of Instagram TV better known as IGTV. This is a new app that allows you to watch long (up to 60 minutes) vertical videos from your favourite Instagram accounts. Allowing people to record and publish footage of this length is a game-changing addition and has been regarded by many as a serious YouTube competitor.

Even though a separate IGTV app has been released, users can also watch these videos from within the original IG application allowing the entire Instagram community to watch these kinds of videos.

The types of content that can be posted are endless, ranging from music videos & cooking tutorials to comedy sketches & interviews, and much much more. The sky's the limit!

What’s also interesting is that IGTV will really have a television feel to it, as it immediately starts playing when you open the app. You then have the option to swipe up to discover the “For You”; “Following”; “Popular” and “Continue Watching” sections, which is pretty cool! So, similarly to your TV, IGTV also has different channels. The difference is that, here, the creators are the channels. And the best thing about it is anyone can become a creator and post their own content. So don’t waste any time and give it a try!

I See You…

Instagram has also announced it is about to make connecting with friends easier by showing you when they are online and available to chat.

You will now be able to see which of your friends are online on Instagram with the help of a green dot next to the profile picture, similar to the one on Facebook. This green dot can be found in several spaces within the app, including users’ direct inbox or when going through your friends list, for example.

You can only see the online status of friends that either follow you or who have shared a direct message history with you in the past. For those who prefer to stay out of the spotlight, fear not. Your online status can easily be switched off by the simple click of a button. Just go to your profile page on the Instagram app and open Settings. Scroll down to the Privacy and Security section, and select the ‘Activity Status’ menu. There you can easily switch the button ‘on’ or ‘off’.

Doing so also removes the indicator that allows people to see when you were last online. Similarly to Whatsapp, though, disabling this feature will also mean that you can neither see other people’s online status nor when they were last active on the app.

Instagram hopes that this added feature will encourage users to increase their activity in the app and push them to increase their engagement with fellow ‘Instagrammers’.

Musical Stories

A couple of weeks ago Instagram revealed it would be introducing music into its Stories format. Basically, you can now add a soundtrack that you feel fits your Story’s mood and content, allowing you to add details and further express your feelings and emotions.

Considering Instagram Stories is currently the second most used Stories format with 400m daily active users (WhatsApp leads the way with 450m daily users), this addition is expected to add an extra dimension to the Instagram Story format, enabling users to really emphasise the significance behind each piece of content.

Adding music to your Story is relatively simple and straightforward. When tapping to add a sticker to your photo or video in Stories, a ‘Music’ icon will appear in the list of stickers. After selecting this option, a library consisting of thousands of songs and soundtracks will open, allowing you to search for your song of preference.

Filters allow you to browse according to mood, genre or what’s popular/trending. Of course, you can also manually search for the exact song that you wish to add to your Story. Click on the play button to listen to a preview of the song you have selected. What’s also pretty cool is that this feature will allow you to fast-forward or rewind through the music you have chosen, so that you can choose which exact part of the song you want playing during your Story. Cool!

Alternatively, you can also choose your song before you start recording your video and then record the video whilst your music plays on in the background. You can do this by opening your camera, selecting the ‘Music’ button under the ‘Record’ button and selecting the part of the song you want playing for your video.

What’s also interesting is that friends who then watch your Story will also be able to see a sticker which shows the song’s title alongside the artist’s name. No need for Shazam here! Instagram’s music library is constantly expanding, so don’t be too surprised if you can’t find every song you’re looking for in there. Although the music sticker is not yet available worldwide, it is for a number of countries, with Instagram looking to roll this out globally in the near future.

Question Stickers

Finally, there’s the new Question Stickers.

Earlier this month, Instagram announced it was introducing a new interactive ‘question sticker’ for Instagram Stories which gives you the chance to post questions on your Story for your friends to answer. It’s IG’s most novel way of getting people to start conversations with each other, allowing users to also get to know one and other a bit better.

Similarly to the music sticker, the question sticker can be found when you select the sticker tray on your Instagram Story after taking a photo or recording a video. After pressing on the question sticker, you will be able to type out a question and position it wherever you wish to do so, before sharing it with the rest of your Story!

Friends can, upon seeing the sticker, tap on the question and type out their reply. The number of replies posted by a user is unlimited, allowing Instagrammers to reply as many times as they want.

Want to see all the responses that your question sticker received? You can find these in your story’s viewers list. By tapping any question that your friends have asked you will be able to create a new story where you can answer it, whilst the question you are answering will also appear on your story in order to give people a bit of context. However, when sharing a friend’s response in your Story, your friend’s photo and username will remain hidden, although you can still see who submitted each response in your viewers list. It might sound a tad complicated but it will all make sense very quickly once you start using it!

Don’t waste any time and start familiarising yourself with these awesome new features! We’re still expecting many changes and updates to be implemented over the course of the year, but we’re super excited about some of these additions. As always, promise to keep you updated about any further changes that may be made! Make life easier and subscribe to our newsletter so we can easily update you on the latest news, blogs, tips, whitepapers and more in the world of social media!

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