The summer of 2021 might go down as one of the biggest shakes up for Instagram updates in the history of the platform.

The popular photo-sharing app announced it’s no longer *just* a photo-sharing app — to the shock of many.  Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram, took to IGTV to share plans to expand the app into more areas than just photo sharing. In his two-minute-long video, Mosseri explained Instagram will start focusing on these four areas: 

  1. Creators: Instagram’s first priority is creators and helping them earn a living with new monetization features. Mosseri recognizes there’s been a shift in power from institutions to individuals across industries, and he wants to move Instagram in that direction.
  2. Video: Mosseri believes video is the future of social media, and he’s not settling for photos anymore. Instagram is prioritizing short-form video aka reels similar to another wildly popular app you may have heard of (::cough:: Tik Tok::cough::)
  3. Shopping: Instagram wants to serve as an e-commerce platform. A lot of people prefer shopping online and Instagram is happy to oblige. 
  4. Messages: Mosseri says sliding into DMs has become the primary way people connect with their close friends on the app.

The good news is that these Instagram updates are designed to give creators more control over monetizing their Instagram from the content they are already creating!

There is a learning curve, but there’s no need to sweat! Learn about all of the latest Instagram updates and how to navigate in the article below.

New Instagram Updates in 2021

No Longer an App for Photo-Sharing

Remember filters? When Instagram first got its start in 2010, we all snapped a selfie and then turned to a friend to ask, “Which filter should I use?”

That’s not much of a thing anymore on Instagram. And, apparently neither are photos.

Of all the Instagram updates, this one made the biggest splash. The pressure on Instagram to be a top video-sharing app is hot and heavy due to competition with TikTok and YouTube. And, Instagram is doing just that. Mosseri says the app is starting to steer more towards video content.

As you might imagine, this news has been met with mixed reviews. Especially, for long-time users who aren’t excited about the thought of dancing on reels to connect with others. There’s also a large segment of the global population who do not have access to the reels feature at all yet. 

Some content creators are excited about the shift to more reels and recommended videos on the algorithm. Other creators have expressed dissatisfaction with the changes.

If you’re not too excited about doing more video, don’t let it get you down. It kind of reminds me of when Ivana Trump famously advised the wives of wealthy men “don’t get mad – get everything” when divorcing Donald Trump. Because if you’re not keen on video, you can monetize all of it with these Instagram updates.

Bottom line: Just because Instagram isn’t “only” a photo-sharing app doesn’t mean that it isn’t a photo-sharing app. Don’t throw out your content strategy

Carousel posts are still the most engaging posts. And it all comes down to knowing what you’re audience wants to see, not just reaching a million new people through reels. The truth is that users are encouraged to use all of Instagram’s features to grow their accounts. 

That being said, it’s time to tweak your long-term Instagram strategy to stay current without stressing out. 

If you haven’t done a reel yet, try it out! You’re not late to the game promise. 

If you’re doing one or two a week, challenge yourself to one more. Batch recording when you can. 

Are you stuck on video ideas? Check out the Reels explore tab to catch up on the latest trends for inspiration.

Creating Reels for Money

Around 63 percent of Instagram’s active users have viewed content from influencers.

Brands around the world are catching on to the importance of including social media in their marketing plans. In addition to major companies using Instagram, independent influencers and content creators are learning to leverage Instagram for their own personal gain.

Instagram marketing seems like a whole other world to those who use Instagram for the sole purpose of looking at pictures of cute dogs. It’s even more confusing now thanks to the latest updates.

Whether you’re a fan or not of the growth of video content, you’ll need to learn how to adjust to this new format if you want to make money from the app. An easy way to ease into this new trend is by creating Reels on Instagram.

Reels are short 15-second videos you can create to share with friends or the wider public side of Instagram. They’ll appear in your grid and become available on the Reel explore tab (if public) once you post them. The Reels creation option allows users to add fun, popular songs, and unique effects to their videos.

Allowing for reels to be public will boost your engagement and give people who aren’t following you the chance to discover your account. Don’t waste this chance because it can build brand awareness and provide passive income.

So, how will Instagram be writing you that check for your video content?

Here it goes — Instagram is testing “Bonuses” that will allow creators to make money from their Reels.

Instagram says it wants to help creators grow their business. If you create great content that other users on the platform enjoy, Instagram will give you a bonus — a cash reward based on your post’s performance.

The first “Bonus” opportunity is the Reels Summer bonus, which allows you to make money from reels. The catch? It has to perform well. What does “well” mean? Instagram didn’t exactly say, but we can hedge a few bets based on how success is defined on the platform: Views, Likes, Comments, Shares, Saves.

Instagram also said they want to reward creators who are just starting on Instagram (insert party hat emoji here!). This is big because it’s intended to give the small guy the same shot as influencers and established brands who have been on Instagram for a while. See you’re not too late to the party!

Go Live

Besides creating reels, take time to go live as you navigate the Instagram updates in 2021. It’s good to practice start going live now because soon you’ll be able to monetize your live videos.

Instagram Live badges are the latest feature release aimed at helping influencers make money. Not familiar with Badges? Not to worry. It’s new and not widely available at the moment. As Later explains, the concept of “Badges” plays off a popular feature within Twitch and TikTok, which allows followers to “tip” creators during live streams.

And it’s not available to everyone yet.

According to Instagram, “Milestone bonuses for badges in Live are Instagram incentives available to increase your earnings when you go Live.” By achieving milestones you can earn cash bonuses and create more opportunities for your fans to support you.

With Badges, creators can generate income from the content they’re already creating. Creators who have badges enabled will have a button under the comments.

According to Instagram, Badges will appear next to a person’s name throughout the live video. Fans who have purchased badges from a creator in a Live will stand out in the comments and unlock additional features, including placement on a creator’s list of badge holders and access to a special heart, essentially giving them the VIP treatment.

Badges have the following levels:

  • One heart – $.99
  • Two hearts – $1.99
  • Three hearts – $4.99

Once a badge is purchased:

  • A badge appears next to all your comments during the live video.
  • A special heart emoji appears for you within the comments section of the live video.
  • You are featured on a ‘supporter’ list that the creator of the live video can view for up to 90 days.

Instagram also announced you’ll be able to check out your live video insights. You’ll be able to see how many accounts you reached and the amount of comments, shares, and saves. You’ll also be able to opt-in to ad placement in your IGTV videos, giving you the opportunity to earn more.

Plus, going live is the perfect way to engage with followers in real-time. Share funny stories and announcements in a live stream.

Many influencers even schedule Instagram lives ahead of time to improve virtual attendance. Pro Tips: Create a poll on your Instagram story, and ask your viewers what days and times are best for live check-ins.

Businesses Can Identify as a Black-Owned Business

Tons of Instagram users are wanting to support black-owned businesses all over the world. Instagram is making that easier.

Black-owned businesses can now add a label to their business account, and consumers who want to purchase from a black-owned business will now be able to find them faster.

The business profile labels are found in the profile information settings under ‘Business Diversity Info’. Instagram is also working towards ridding racial bias in the algorithm.

If you’re a black-owned business using the Shops feature on the app, adding this label will quickly boost your business! Don’t forget to also promote with consistent content posts and daily Instagram stories.

You Can Now Directly Share Tweets

Have you found success for your business and content on Twitter? If you want to drive more people over to your Twitter account, you can now directly share tweets on your Instagram stories without having to screenshot.

Tap on the share option under a tweet, and click the Instagram story option. You’ll be lead over to your Instagram to finish up the sharing process.

If you don’t have a Twitter, give it a shot. It’s a great way to share quick bits of information and photos with a wide range of followers. I know your Instagram followers would love a peek of your quick wit and Twitter charm.

Instagram Stories Are Now More Accessible

Accessibility is crucial on social media apps. Luckily, many apps, including Instagram, are catching on to this.

You now have the option to add captions to your Instagram stories. The captions option will translate spoken words into text. Try this feature out next time you create a video for your story.

To increase the accessibility of your Instagram even more, include alt text with each Instagram post on your main grid. You’ll find the option to add alt text under the advanced posting options.

Wait, How Can I Make Money? Make More Money Now: Instagram Marketing

Most people would love to know how to make money on Instagram, and I don’t blame them. With these updates, there are plenty more opportunities to earn a buck or two from the app.

Start by switching your account over to a business account. Make the switch in your account settings. Follow the prompts to complete your business profile.

Keep an eye on your insights as you use your business account. Check out which posts people are interacting with most, and figure out what makes those posts special.

Develop a consistent brand as you post on your Instagram account. By having a clear aesthetic and tone, you’ll attract your intended audience. Having engaging Instagram content is key to being able to monetize successfully.

You’ll be able to start monetizing Reels and Live videos, but you’ll also be able to capitalize on sharing photos of the products you enjoy like traditional influencer marketing — is traditional influencer marketing an oxymoron? Anyway…

Take pictures of you using your favorite products throughout the day. Post these pictures on your story and tag the maker. You’d be surprised how many brand deals you can secure by doing this.

Are you obsessed with a particular brand or company? Reach out to the company to propose a brand deal. Include your insights and stats in your email.

This year has come with plenty of new Instagram updates. Catch up on the latest updates to better leverage Instagram marketing in your favor.

Some of the major updates include the app moving away from photo-sharing and adding the option for black-owned businesses to add a diversity label. Discovering new creators is becoming easier on the app through Reels and Lives.

Creating exciting Instagram content can be tough, but I’m here to help with plenty of tips and tricks. These 50 free post prompts helped me grow an engaged Instagram following of more than 5K people, fast!

Happy Creating,

Cyndi Owner of Ascent StoryCraft

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