Instagram kicks off 2022 with new features
It’s been a busy start to the year for Instagram, with the platform having released several major new features designed to better support creators and encourage user engagement. Some, such as the introduction of livestream moderators, respond to criticism that the platform is, at times, an unfriendly, unsafe environment, especially for its younger users. Others, like new messaging features, are designed to improve the platform’s competitive position in the all-important messaging arena, while creator subscriptions go directly to supporting creators to monetize their activities.
1. Live moderators
Following in the footsteps of Facebook, YouTube and Twitch, Instagram has added a moderator feature to its Live broadcast function. By tapping the menu icon in the comment bar, creators can choose a specific moderator for their Live or a moderator suggested by Instagram. Moderators — widely known as mods — are now able to report unsavory comments, remove viewers and turn off comments for specific streamers.
As Instagram strives to attract more live creators, adding moderators should go a long way to providing them with a safer environment in which to operate. With user expectations of social platforms evolving rapidly, viral events such as the sexual harassement of Pakistani actress Hania Amir during an IG Live must be avoided at all costs.
Instagram is testing creator subscriptions for Lives and Stories. Currently available in the US only, subscriptions will enable creators to offer their followers paid access to exclusive Stories and Live videos. Subscribers are designated by a purple crown badge, enabling creators to easily recognize them in comments.
A big step forward in enabling creators to monetize content, subscription price points range from $0.99 to $99.99 per month. The move follows Facebook’s launch of subscriptions in 2020, and comes as TikTok is also testing the concept.
3. Supersync for Stories and Reels
Supersync enables creators to upload multiple media — images and videos — and a song, and automatically sync them in a Reels or Stories post to the beat of music. In selecting Supersync, users can either choose their own song, or select one automatically offered by the app. Supersynch will adjust the length of the video to match the song which sounds great but also means you can’t manually choose the video highlight. Although it does not yet have functionality to automatically find the video highlight, Supersynch could be a game changer for amateur video editors, hasten the demise of additional video editing tools in the long term.
4. Messaging upgrades
Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri says messaging has developed into the primary way people connect online; to that end, the company has added a series of messaging capabilities to its DM inbox. New features include enabling users to reply to a DM while browsing without losing their place in the feed. A new tap-and-hold function on the share button enables users to easily reshare posts to friends, while you can also now see who amongst your friends is online to chat with. Instagram has also introduced new messaging features such as the ability to share music previews, send silent messages, and to check who amongst your friends is online.
And, as music becomes increasingly important to kickstarting trends in short-form video like Reels, Instagram has moved to integrate Apple Music, Amazon Music (and soon Spotify), enabling users to share a 30-second song preview in the chat window. It has also adopted a popular feature from facebook Messenger which allows users to create a poll directly within a group chat.
5. Your Activity
Accessed via a new ‘Your Activity’ tab in your profile, this feature allows users to delete content like posts, stories, reels, comments, likes, or story sticker reactions, in bulk. Users can also find deleted or archived content, see your search history, view previously visited links, and learn how much time they’ve spent on the platform. Your Activity also enables users to filter and sort content and interactions, and search past comments, likes and stories replies by date.
6. Stories poll stickers, private likes and scheduled stickers
Stories poll stickers have remained unchanged since their launch in 2017, enabling users to create a two-input poll. Instagram’s updated stickers add a range of customization tools, and the ability to add up to four response options to a poll. Still in testing with early-access users, the update is aimed at driving enthusiasm and engagement amongst users.
Still on Stories, Instagram has introduced a Private Story Likes feature that allows users to like a Story without sending a DM. Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri announced the changes on Twitter, as part of the company’s efforts to improve its messaging functionality. Likes on stories are private and do not have counts. Rather, they appear as hearts next to people’s handles in the Stories view sheet.
Instagram is also testing a scheduled sticker aimed at enabling users to share an event reminder in stories including a direct link. Users can already promote events as part of the creation process, but there is no way to reshare or re-promote an event once it has been created. The scheduled sticker would fix that omission.