While its parent company, Facebook continues looking inward, Instagram on the other hand seems intent on creating a window into the world with its latest Sharing and Discover features.  

Since its launch in October of 2010, Instagram has been one of the few companies who have managed to make its mark on the world. And now almost a decade later, Instagram continues with its supremacy in the market for Brands and Creators alike. You couldn’t imagine your life now without having gone through your Feed or checking out your friend’s newest stories. So how has Instagram managed to stand the test of time while so many others could not? Because it evolves, just like the world around it does. Instagram has made several updates to its design over the past few years; even now they continue to tinker their Interface to elevate its newest features that are key to its growth.

So today, we find it apt to discuss Instagram’s latest updates and all the information we could gather and what it will mean for your experience with its app.

“Explore” Expands to Include Shopping and IGTV

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According to an anonymous Instagram representative, the Explore tab on the Instagram App is used by more than half of its users each month. And to that end, the company seems committed to “Investing heavily in Explore with the goal of making it the best online destination for your interests and making it evolve over time as your interests do”. Instagram’s Product Lead for its Discovery feature, Will Ruben seems to agree, as he was quoted saying “Explore shows you the full breadth of content on Instagram that is relevant to your interests.”

So with that, you can expect to see more and more posts and stories that you probably want to buy or have searched for, with Instagram’s AI working behind the scenes to track and use user data from their other social accounts. Brands on the platform can use effective hashtag-ing to aid their marketing efforts on the Discovery Tab. In addition to a wider array of content sharing on the platform, you might see a few additional changes as well. The IGTV and Shopping Tags have joined the Explore Tab, most likely to help Brands boost their profile with additional categories of Food, Travel and Clothing. Now if you were to tap on the Shopping Tab, you would be able to see posts divided under categories like Beauty, Home Décor and Clothing. And IGTV, which struggled in its first year, hopes to make a comeback with its placement on frequently visited spaces on the platform.

But that’s not all, folks, for there is yet another heavily used feature that is making its way onto the Explore tab. Keep reading to find out!

Stories Get Discoverable Through Explore New Things:

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Owing to their huge popularity, the ephemeral and less structured, Instagram Stories, which have stayed mostly private until now, will now show up on the Explore Tab. Instagram’s newest feature, Stories have changed the way Brands and Creators communicate with its audience, with users wanting more and more of the intimate, behind the scenes, and often silly content of the people they follow instead of their heavily edited and manicured content fodder posts. 

Instagram Stories, originally an idea borrowed from Snapchat was deployed as a feature in 2016. And ever since, they have blazed past regular posts in terms of popularity. Now with it being featured on the more public Explore Tab, newer brands find it increasingly more convenient to market themselves through informality with their Stories, even if they can’t match the aesthetics and frequency of their bigger counterparts. Stories are more freeform, and due in part to their ephemeral nature, create less pressure on users to rack up likes and comments, allowing for a far better and more free form of content.

However, even as this Snapchat-Inspired feature thrives, another one bites the dust.

Standalone Apps Say Goodbye

Instagram Direct, a standalone app that was launched in December of 2017 to compete with Snapchat’s own direct messaging capabilities, will soon be decommissioned in the coming weeks. Users like you will be notified via an in-app message, to let them know their conversations now will move over to Instagram, automatically. So for users who are using Instagram Direct, well, you don’t have to do anything. Just wait till Instagram officially pulls the plug and your conversations move onto the main app itself. Interestingly, this move to consolidate multiple features onto a single platform differs from its parent company, Facebook’s Modus Operandi. Facebook has a separate messenger app that serves a similar function to that of Instagram Direct. 

A lot of you never might have even heard of Instagram Direct, for it never actually launched globally. It was only officially launched in a few countries, and so its merger into Instagram doesn’t seem to be much of a hassle. Similarly, the widely used Instagram’s standalone app Boomerang was absorbed into its main platform a few months ago. As far as we are concerned, this a clear sign of Streamlining for the company, incorporating multiple features that are used widely into one and discarding the ones that aren’t. 

Now after almost a decade, even as Instagram continues to surge in popularity, it clearly isn’t comfortable resting on its Laurels. Its future seems intent on widening our view of the world, and we at Social Cube look forward to seeing the sorts of stories that come out of this remarkable evolution of human imagination and indomitable will.

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