The last few months have been a whirlwind of announcements, updates, gossip and excitement for Instagram users. In this article we’re going to talk about the Instagram updates that have already been released, features that Instagram is currently testing, AND put to rest all the gossip about upcoming features that just isn’t true at all.

UPDATE (September 24, 2018): Instagram CEO and Co-Founders Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger have announced they are stepping down from the company. We are not sure whether the departure of Systrom and Kreiger will have any effect on the potential updates to Instagram detailed below. We will, however, update our readers with any new information as it’s released. Subscribe to our blog newsletter to receive Instagram news and updates automatically.

 

“Regramming”

Earlier this year whispers that Instagram was testing a “regram” feature had a lot of users excited. For years, Instagrammers have wanted the ability to share posts similarly to how they currently can with Twitter and Facebook.

Instagram did, in fact, roll out a form of “regramming” within the Stories feature several months ago, but it’s definitely not the sharing feature users were expecting. Here’s how it works:

  1. Someone mentions you in their story
  2. Instagram notifies you in a direct message.
  3. The message will let you know you’ve been mentioned in someone’s story, and give you the option to “Add This to Your Story.” Here’s what it looks like on the app:
Instagram regram

Instagram Stories Regram

So yes, essentially you can regram someone else’s story if you were mentioned in it, but you will only be able to share it within your own story, not on your profile page.

With the release of this new feature came an onslaught of gossip suggesting Instagram was going to also allow users to share other peoples’ posts to their own profile. If you’re one of the users who has been patiently waiting for this function to finally be released, we’ve got some bad news.

Earlier this week it was reported that TechCrunch’s Josh Constine was able to speak with Instagram regarding this supposed update, only to be told that it was “not happening.”

Here is Instagram’s stance on a “share/regram” feature in Constine’s own words:


“Regramming would be a fundamental shift in how Instagram works, not necessarily in terms of functionality, but in terms of the accepted norms of what and how to post. You could always screenshot, cite the original creator, and post. But Instagram has always been about sharing your window to the world — what you’ve lived and seen. Regramming would legitimize suddenly assuming someone else’s eyes.”

The result would be that users couldn’t trust that when they follow someone, that’s whose vision would appear in their feed. Instagram would feel a lot more random and unpredictable. And it’d become more like its big brother Facebook whose News Feed has waned in popularity – susceptible to viral clickbait bulls∗∗∗, vulnerable to foreign misinformation campaigns, and worst of all, impersonal.”


For users who value the authenticity of Instagram when it comes to seeing the world through someone else’s eyes – or showing it through your own (and yours alone) – News that this update was merely false gossip may come as a relief.

Shopping on Instagram

One of the more exciting updates Instagram released this year is the ability to add product tags in Instagram posts and stories. Currently available only to approved business accounts on Instagram, this update allows accounts to tag their products directly in their posts.

For example, one tap of a finger displays a product description, price, and name with a link that directs users to a page where that product can be purchased.

Instagram Shopping

Instagram Shoppable

This feature is an undeniable advantage for businesses attempting to generate revenue through social media marketing. Before the update, a company had to rely on captivating photos being enough to draw users to their websites and make a purchase.

Now, any Instagram user can literally online shop within the Instagram app without having to open any browsers (unless of course, they want to make a purchase).

The ability to tag products on Instagram posts essentially turns a company’s profile into a digitally shoppable catalog. What could be better than that?

Send GIFs in Direct Messaging

Earlier this year Instagram teamed up with Giphy to bring GIFs to Stories. For those of you who remember this being available, you might be asking yourself why the feature ever went away.

Turns out an inappropriate GIF containing a racist slur managed to slip through the cracks on both Snapchat and Instagram. Both companies removed Giphy from their platforms while Giphy investigated the issue.

Seven months later, Instagram has reenabled its GIF sharing feature following a report from Giphy claiming the issue would not happen again.

For Instagram users who feel like words just never are enough, rejoice! Direct messaging within Instagram now includes a “GIF” icon at the very bottom of the screen. You can search for GIFs by keyword, description, or even opt for a randomly generated GIF.

IG GIFs

GIFs in Instagram Direct Messaging

An important note: I am embarrassed to admit the amount of time I spent wondering why the GIF button wasn’t appearing on my Direct Message screen. But, for anyone who might be wondering the same thing — You must update the Instagram app in the Apple or Google Play store for this feature to show up.

“Get Support” for opioid or substance abuse

A new feature that rolled out earlier this month came with an important message and call to action.

Designed to offer resources and support to users who may be struggling with opioid or substance abuse. Here’s how it works:

Instagram users who search drug-related hashtags like #uppers, or #opioid will see a pop-up menu that links to a page containing resources for addressing substance abuse. Those who click the link in the pop-up menu will see the following:

Instagram Pop up

Source: Instagram “Get Support”

As the struggle with substance abuse rises in the world, it’s undeniably notable for a large company like Instagram to offer a form of support for users, however small it may seem.

Security Updates

Of the many Instagram updates to have been released this year, three of them were focused solely on increasing the safety and security of its users’ experience.  On August 28th, the following updates were announced:

1. “About This Account”

About this Account Instagram

About This Account (Source Instagram)

This update was released as an attempt to help educate/ensure users about the authenticity or background of the accounts they follow. Users will be able to see detailed information about accounts that have a large follower-base. Such information will include the following:

  • Date Joined
  • Country (location of user)
  • Ads (campaigns the account is currently running)
  • Former usernames
  • Accounts with shared followers

Why is this important?

As social media grows, more and more people are getting their information from platforms such as Instagram. Large accounts, as a result, have the ability to share information — such as current events, political and social causes — with a great number of people, accurate or not.

As a member of the Instagram community, it’s important to make sure you’re informed when it comes to where your information is coming from.

Get Verified on Instagram

Verified Instagram

IG Verification Badge

The little blue checkmark that appears next to some Instagram accounts’ profile image is a verified badge.

Essentially, any account with this badge has been reviewed by Instagram and verified as an authentic and notable account.

On August 28th, Instagram added a verification request form for getting verified. However, this badge is generally only considered for notable accounts, i.e. celebrity accounts, or any highly searched person who has been featured in news sources.

Instagram Verification Form

Instagram Verification Form

 

That being said, the simple ability to apply for verification squashed the mystery behind those little blue checkmarks and appeased a lot of Instagrammers who had been resorting to purchasing the badge on the black market. You can read all about this feature, as well as a step-by-step guide to applying for Instagram verification here.

Third-party authentication

The third update Instagram released with its users’ security in mind was support for third-party authenticator apps.

According to Instagram, this update increases the ease and security of logging into your Instagram account.

Here are the steps for enabling a third-party app to log in to your Instagram account:

  1. Go to your profile and tap the menu icon in the upper right-hand corner:
    Instagram menu

    Click the “Menu” Tab

  2. Select “Settings” at the bottom
    Instagram Update

    Click “Settings”

  3. Scroll down until you see “Two-Factor Authentication.”
    Instagram Update

    Click “Two-Factor Authentication”

  4. Select “Authentication App” as your preferred form of authentication. If you already have an authentication app installed, Instagram will automatically find the app and send a login code to it.

    Two-Factor Authentication

  5. If you do not already have a third-party app, Instagram will send you to the App store (Google Play or Apple Store) to choose one to download and use.
  6. Once you’ve installed your third-party app of choice, return to Instagram to continue setting up your two-factor authentication.

Parents Guide to Instagram

Instagram For Parents

Source: Wellbeing.instagram.com/parents

While this one isn’t an actual update to Instagram, it’s a great resource for parents looking to ensure Instagram remains a positive app for their children to use.

In The Parent’s Guide, readers can learn about the following:

  1. The basics of what Instagram is and how to use it
  2. Information about the safety tools available on Instagram such as:
    • Account privacy
    • Blocking comments
    • Blocking followers
    • Report a post
    • Anonymous reporting for at-risk posts
  3. Discussion guides for how to talk about Instagram with your children
  4. Programs dedicated to fostering communities of support on Instagram

Updates like these make it clear that Instagram is dedicated to keeping its platform a safe, supportive, resourceful and positive space. For more information about the Parents Guide, please visit this link.

Hide your hashtags

Alright, on to the juicy gossip. Here’s where we discuss the anticipated features we’ve just learned might be rolling out soon on Instagram.

According to app researcher Jane Manchun Wong (@wongmjane) “Instagram is testing the ability to add hashtags to posts without including it in the post caption. (Posted on Twitter 9/19)

Here are a couple of screenshots taken by Wong showing what this new interface might look like:

Instagram Hashtags

Source: @wongmjane

Source: @wongmjane

As you can see, an “Add Hashtags” section would essentially create a way for users to take advantage of the discoverability hashtags offer, without cluttering their post caption.

I for one would welcome this feature with open arms. As someone who dislikes how a post looks when it’s cut off by a long list of captions, I’m all for this update.

Just remember, there is currently no verification that this feature will be implemented. While we’re excited to hear Instagram is testing this function, past experience tells us to not get ahead of ourselves until the news is official.

Geofencing

Another feature Wong reported Instagram appears to be testing is a geofencing option. Geofencing would allow users to choose in which regions of the world they want their post or story to be shown.

Here’s a screenshot taken by Wong, posted on Twitter:

Geofencing Instagram

Source: @wongmjane (Geofencing)

Brands on Instagram could use the geofencing option to specifically target markets within their region; a boutique could target users currently in the same country only.

For brands struggling to reach their target market, this feature could be the answer. The ability to choose the exact region in which your content is shared could drastically increase your company’s chance of being seen by an audience who can and will buy your product.

Final Thoughts

As an Instagram focused social media agency, nothing is more exciting to us than sharing the new and anticipated Instagram updates that make using the platform that much better.

Keep in mind, nothing is set in stone until Instagram gives the official green light for an update release. Subscribe to our blog newsletter to get real-time updates on Instagram news, features, and announcements.