Ever since getting acquired by Facebook, Instagram has been receiving frequent updates to its algorithm and ads platform with new features to make it more profitable for advertisers.

To make sure you’re in-the-know of all these changes, I’ve compiled them here in one place. We’ll continue to update this article as new updates, features, and tests are released so you won’t miss a thing!

December 2019

The year is now winding down and coming to a close, but that doesn’t mean Instagram is getting complacent. In fact, the team at Instagram is still working hard day-by-day to improve the user experience and offerings for advertisers.

Here are the latestInstagram updates for 2019 that you should know as you start planning campaigns for 2020.

Brand Collabs Manager is coming to Instagram

Facebook launched Brand Collabs Manager a year ago for Facebook creators. Its goal is to make it easier for creators and influencers on Facebook to partner up with brands and produce content together.

Now Instagram has just announced Brand Collabs Manager is coming to Instagram creators, poised to become a much bigger opportunity for both Instagram influencers and brands.

Brands will be able to search for influencers and influencers will be able to search for brands. There are dozens if not hundreds of influencer matchmaking services already out there and surely this can't be good news for them.

The best part? Brands will be able to see the analytics and insights of the content they're tagged in making reporting seamless, clean, and accurate. Say goodbye to screenshots!

Brand Collabs Manager for Instagram

For now, this is only open to select a group of Instagram creators. Be on the lookout for when this opens up to all creators and brands as this will be the next biggest opportunity in the influencer marketing space.

Read the official announcement on Instagram's business blog.

Instagram algorithm will start hiding like counts from the public view for some users in the United States

In an effort to become the safest place on the internet, Instagram is testing the removal of like counts for some users in the United States. Additionally, Instagram is creating more intense algorithms and filters to remove offensive or divisive comments or pictures.

Some researchers have found that when users tailor their content to boost engagement or outrage, it radicalizes the platform and makes healthy conversations impossible.

Naturally, this conclusion comes with backlash from advertisers saying hiding public engagement metrics will make it hard to differentiate between posts and ads that have strong social proof from those that don’t.

Users and advertisers will still be able to easily see their own like counts and engagement metrics — it just won’t be revealed to others.

Stay tuned for updates on how this experiment pans out and whether or not Instagram will remove public like counts for good.

Instagram algorithm updated to detect and remove automated bots

Instagram is again cracking down on accounts that either purchase followers or use an automation bot to inauthentically boost engagement rates on their own posts or other users’ posts.

Instagram’s recent algorithm update quickly detects automated bots and removes fake followers and likes, resulting in more authentic follower representations and true engagement rates.

The new algorithm will not affect any authentic activity, including:

  • Like and follow actions completely manually
  • Non-automated Instagram DMs
  • Non-automated, manually viewed Instagram stories

As long as your engagement is done manually by you, or by an organic Instagram growth service or social media management team, your account won’t be impacted by this algorithm update.

And no, if a competitor decides to purchase likes or followers for your account in hopes to get you banned, that won’t happen. Instagram will continually try and remove the “fake” likes and follows.

It seems you’re only at risk of getting banned by granting a 3rd party service to like and follow other users’ posts and accounts and continuing to do so after receiving a warning.

November 2019

Instagram updated to launch "Reels," which is basically to TikTok

Facebook is back to its old strategy of “if you can’t beat them, buy them. If you can’t buy them, copy them.”

Just like how Facebook copied Snapchat by adding stories to Instagram, they are beginning to test a new feature called Reels that allows users to create fun music videos that last up to 15-seconds. You may recognize this feature as it’s almost identical to TikTok.

Although more details are sparse, we can be sure if the feature takes off, there will be some kind of ad offering for advertisers.

Reels is only available so far in Brazil while they test the new feature.

Simplifying payments with Facebook Pay on Instagram, Facebook, and WhatsApp

Payment apps like Venmo, Cash, and PayPal are crushing it when it comes to offering a seamless payment experience, and Facebook wants in.

Facebook recently introduced Facebook Pay. This service provides a convenient, secure, and consistent payment experience across all three of these apps.

As of now, Facebook Pay is only available on Facebook but will be available for WhatsApp and Instagram in the near future.

It’s worthy of note that Facebook Pay is also mostly for person-to-person payments. However, with 130 million users tapping on shopping posts per month, it will be interesting to see if there will be more support in the future for purchasing products directly from ads or online stores.

Stay tuned for more updates on Facebook Pay.

October 2019

Instagram is testing augmented reality for shopping

You’ve seen augmented reality (AR) filters. Augmented reality filters are visual representations of something that looks like it’s there, but isn’t in reality.

For example, when you open your Instagram stories, you can swipe through a series of filters that add fun elements to your face.

Thanks to AR on Instagram, it looks like I’m wearing a touch of makeup and hip sunglasses in the Utah desert when, really, I’m sitting in Starbucks on a snowy day.

Now Instagram is beginning to expand AR into shopping experiences by allowing users to virtually “try on” brands’ products with custom AR filters.  As of right now, this is only open to  select brands and advertisers.

Speaking of Starbucks, it is the first brand to successfully add AR to their social media branding experience. Starbucks visitors can now put an AR filter on their holiday-themed Starbucks cups to entice organic sharing.

It will be fun to see how different brands start to use this feature as it continues to develop. Imagine the possibilities! Consumers could try on glasses, test out lipstick colors, visualize how furniture would look in their apartment, and more.

Instagram’s direct message app Threads was released and has robust features

Instagram recently launched Threads, “a camera-first messaging app that helps you stay connected to your close friends.”

As of now, Threads is user-focused, meaning most users won’t initially add businesses to their “close friends” list.

Although there are no ad placements in Threads yet, advertisers and marketers should stay tuned for ways they can use the app organically or for potential monetization options in the future.

Use donation stickers for your holiday season campaigns

Instagram launched donation stickers back in May, but November and December are the perfect months to keep this awesome Instagram update in mind.

With donation stickers, brands have the ability to raise funds for nonprofits via Instagram.

What better way is there to campaign during the holidays than to drive awareness to your favorite charitable organization?

Creating a donation campaign is easy. All you have to do is create your story, search for “donation,” select the “donation sticker,” choose the organization you are supporting and post it in your stories.

Reminders for product launches on Instagram shopping

Instagram has started beta testing a new way for some brands to set reminders about upcoming product launches. With these reminders, consumers can buy your products the moment they’re available, and they can purchase right on Instagram.

The purpose of this beta test is to make it easier for people to discover and follow relevant product launches from the brands they love the most.

The product launch sticker in Instagram Stories and the product launch tag in the feed allows people to set relevant reminders.

Instagram shopping posts as ads

Instagram is also testing the ability for brands to run their existing shopping posts as ads in Ad Manager.

A few select brands have already begun testing this experience in their feed. This new feature allows shoppers to tap on these ads and be directed to a product description page within Instagram.

From that page, the consumer can proceed to purchase from the brand’s mobile site.

Wrap Up

Instagram is always changing their algorithms, testing new features, and updating their product. Keep checking back to this page regularly for the scoop on the latest from Instagram and Facebook updates for advertisers.