FOMO? Here Are Instagram Updates From The Past 6 Months You'll Want To Know

FOMO? Here Are Instagram Updates From The Past 6 Months You'll Want To Know

Published on 19th of March 2019

Instagram is one of the biggest social media platforms, with, according to Hootsuite, one billion monthly active users. Their consistent growth guarantees constant changes and updates in order to make the Instagram experience easier and better for their users.

However, you may be unaware of some of the changes they’ve made and their latest features. That’s why we put together a list of Instagram updates from the last six months—starting with September of 2018 all the way through February 2019–so that you can be up to date with all things Instagram.

Stay all the way to the end for features Instagram is currently testing to be ahead of the game. Now let’s get you updated! Here are Instagram updates from the past 6 months.

September 2018

Verification application

The verified symbol, a blue check mark, is used to show that a social media account is legit and authentic. Before, you would see the symbol only beside celebrities’ names, and Instagram would verify accounts at random.

Now, however, anyone can apply to get verified. Applying for verification doesn’t guarantee acceptance. You must have a large audience, and you must be a notable figure, a celebrity, or a global brand or entity.

This means that if you’re an influencer on YouTube, a huge successful company, or a highly known entrepreneur, you can apply.

How to request for verification:

  1. Go to your profile page and click the menu on the top right corner
  2. Click ‘Settings’ (all the way at the bottom)
  3. Click ‘Account’
  4. Click ‘Request Verification’
  5. Fill out the required information (including a picture of your ID) and send

More security

In September, Instagram expanded their security settings, and are still, to this day, working harder to protect big brands and businesses. You can now use third-party authenticator apps like Google Authenticator and DUO Mobile for two-factor authentication. This decreases the possibility of your account being hijacked or hacked.

Mike Krieger, Instagram co-founder, stated, “We’ve been focused on the safety of our platform since the very beginning, and today’s updates build upon our existing tools, such as our spam and abusive content filters and the ability to report or block accounts.”

How to enable two-factor authentication:

  1. Go to ‘Settings’
  2. Click ‘Privacy and Security’
  3. Scroll down to the ‘Security’ section and find ‘Two-Factor Authentication.’
  4. Click ‘Get Started’ and follow the directions

More profile information

Users previously had access only to the information a user chose to display on their Instagram profile. With this new update, you now have access to more information such as:

  • The date the user joined
  • The country they’re in (based on their activity)
  • Any active ads (both feed and story ads)
  • Former usernames
  • Accounts with shared followers (For example, if you follow an actress in a tv show, it’s likely that her fellow co-stars will appear here)

How to access this information:

  1. Go to user’s Instagram profile
  2. Click the three dots on the right hand corner (a menu will slide up)
  3. Click ‘About This Account’

New superzoom effects for stories

Superzoom effects have proven popular, so Instagram released six new options.

  • Paparazzi: Paparazzi camera flashes
  • Fire: Fire and hardcore music
  • Hearts: Fog, hearts, and romantic music
  • Nope: A big X slamming on the screen
  • Bummer: Sad piano music, grey screen, and leaves falling

Polls added to direct messages

Poll stickers have been available to Instagram stories for a while now, but they became available for direct messages specifically. Now, you make a story, and add a poll sticker that can be sent directly to one person or a group chat.

New shopping features

Instagram rolled out the shopping feature in 2017, but like everything else, they look for ways to improve the feature. Before September, you could only tag products in the Instagram feed. In September, they added the ability to tag products on stories. It looks the same way as it does on the main feed, and viewers simply tap to see the details.

Instagram also added a shopping channel on the Explore section. According to Ad Espresso, the shopping channel features, “both brands that the user already follows and interacts with and brands that Instagram’s algorithm think they might like.” In the channel, only posts with shoppable images appear.

October 2018


Nametags were invented to make it easier for users to follow their friends and family quickly. This way, they don’t have to type a username into the search bar, where it’s likely that numerous others with similar usernames are to pop up.

The nametag works like a QR code. You pull up your nametag by going to your profile page and clicking the menu (three bars) at the top right corner, then click ‘Nametag.’ After, show it to someone to scan. You scan a nametag through the nametag section, where it says “Scan a nametag” or you can scan it through your Instagram story camera.

Also, according to Later, “If someone sends you their nametag by text message, just save the image to your camera roll, open the nametag editor from your profile, tap “Scan a nametag” button, and then tap the photo button in the top-right corner of the screen.“

If you want more followers in your business account, you can add this screenshot to a business card, your website, or anywhere else you want to promote your Instagram. People will be able to scan directly from Instagram to follow you.

Quick replies in Direct Messages (DMs)

Quick replies are a miracle for businesses. If you run a business, you’ll relate to this all too well. How many times have you been asked the same question? How many times have you had to type the same response over and over again?

Say you sell posters on your website, and people always ask you if you do custom prints. Time after time, you respond that yes, you do custom prints and give them your prices. It gets tiring if you’re constantly asked this, so this is where you can add a quick reply shortcut.

A quick reply means that you create something short to type into the text box that can turn into a long message. For example, you can create a shortcut called “mycustomprints” so when you type that, with a simple touch, the message can turn into “Hello, yes I do! The price for a custom print is $100.00 for one person, $200.00 for two people, and $250.00 for three.”

When you type, “mycustomprints” a blue bubble chat will appear on the right sight of the typing box—click it and your shortcut will transform into the full message.

There are two ways to create quick replies, and and these are the ways, explained step-by-step by Later.

Instagram continuous stories

Instagram stories, for a long time, would cut you off after fifteen seconds. However, this month, Instagram came out with a feature that let’s you continue a story.

For example, say you were recording a story. If, after fifteen seconds, you keep holding down the recording button, your story will continue to record and create another fifteen-second story. So, the story is continuous but chopped into fifteen-second segments. You can go on recording for a full minute.

GIFs in messages

GIFs are very popular, and you can use them to reply to DMs directly from Instagram. If you go into a direct message, on the right side of the text field is a microphone, an image option, and a plus sign.

If you click that plus sign, you’ll be given three more options: a quick reply option, a heart, and a GIF label. If you click the GIF option, you’ll be able to search GIFs through GIPHY right on the app. You type in your search in the same text box, and with one click, the GIF will send.

November 2018

Reducing inauthentic activity

Instagram became stricter with inauthentic activity. They’re removing fake likes, followers, and comments that were purchased through third-party apps and websites. They can identify the accounts that are buying inauthentic engagement, and then notify the user that they will be removing their bought likes and follows.

In the same notification, they ask that the user change their password and give them the option to do so right away. Instagram shares, “These new measures will be ongoing, and accounts that continue to use third-party apps to grow their audience may see their Instagram experience impacted.”

Instagram states that this update is, “another step in keeping Instagram a vibrant community where people can connect with the people and things they love.”

(Note: StormLikes gives you real likes from real people.)

IGTV previews in stories

Instagram allows IGTV users to share previews of their IGTV videos to their Instagram stories. When you share the preview on a story, then your viewers have the option to click and watch the entire video.

Here are instructions on how to share your IGTV video to your story, as shared by AdEspresso.

  1. View the IGTV video that you want to share.
  2. Click on that little paper airplane symbol in the bottom left-hand corner.
  3. Click on the “add video to your story.

More shopping features

When you click a tag in a shoppable post, you’re now taken to a new page where you can see:

  • The price
  • The option to go to their website
  • More items they’re selling from Instagram

You can also share a product to your story or send it through DMs, and bookmark it. The bookmarking feature has been around for a while, but when you bookmark a product, it doesn’t save the post to a default folder like it usually does. It saves the product to a folder called “Shopping,” for an easier shopping experience.

Finally, if a user has shoppable posts, there will be a tab above the posts in their profile page that says ‘Shop.’ All their products (not their shoppable posts) show up there with an easy access to a bookmark.

December 2018

The countdown sticker

You can use The Countdown sticker in your story and used for countdowns, and it’s a brilliant use for release dates, launches, announcements, and more.

How to use it:

  1. Open up your story, click the sticker option, click the countdown
  2. Choose the time and date you want your countdown to end
  3. Customize color
  4. Name the countdown (i.e. new merch, big surprise)
  5. Post to your story

When you upload your story, the countdown will begin, and your followers will see it count down in real time. You can then save it as a highlight so that it doesn’t disappear. If your followers tap the sticker, they’ll be asked if they want to receive a reminder of the countdown or if they want to share it to their own account.

Alternative text on Instagram

People who are visually impaired usually have a screen reader on their phone. Alternative text, a description of the picture on the main feed, is what the screen reader would read if someone were on Instagram. There’s an automatic alternative text reader, but there’s also a custom alternative text option, “so you can add a richer description of your photos when you upload a photo,” said Instagram Press.

How to add alternative text:

  • Select your photo for Instagram as usual
  • Before you upload, go to ‘Advanced Settings’
  • Under ‘Accessibility’ click ‘Write Alt Text’
  • Write text, up to 100 characters

Voice messaging in Direct Messages

Voice messages in DM’s can be sent in either one-on-one messages or in group chats. They can be up to one minute, but you can send more. Once you play one voice message, the rest play back-to-back. These voice messages, as opposed to Facebook, are permanent and don’t disappear after a few minutes.

Here is how to use this feature (from Instagram Info center):

Stories close friends list

A “close friends list” is compiled of people you select to receive Instagram stories you don’t want to share publicly. The feature is available on the side menu of your profile. You scroll through a list of people you follow and select the ones you want in the list.

“Instagram Stories has become the place to express yourself and share everyday moments, but our community has grown and sometimes what you want to share isn’t for everyone,” Instagram said in their info center. “With Close Friends, you have the flexibility to share more personal moments with a smaller group that you choose.

January 2019

You can post to multiple Instagram accounts at once

You can share the same feed post to more than one account at once now. How do you do this? You do the same thing as usual—pick your content, write the caption—but don’t share just yet.

Underneath the ‘Add Location’ space, you’ll see a section that reads, ‘Post to Other Accounts.’ The accounts you’re logged in to on your phone will appear there, and you have to toggle the ones you want to upload to. When you upload, the post will be shared to the accounts you selected.

“This ‘self regram’ could make it easier for businesses, influencers and regular folks with Instas and Finstas to publish the same meme, promotional image or other content across their profiles simultaneously instead of having to post on one at a time,” shared Techcrunch.

An update for the questions sticker

The Questions sticker was released in July of 2018, but this year, they gave it an update. The Questions sticker, previously available only for stories, was made available for Instagram lives. Viewers can comment in real-time during lives, so questions get lost among them.

With this new update, you can specifically do a live Q&A. Here’s how:

  1. Post the questions sticker to your story as usual
  2. Once you get responses, go live
  3. Click the question mark symbol to view the questions you’ve been asked
  4. Tap the question you want to answer to show it to your viewers
  5. To choose another question, tap the question you were answering to see the other ones again

Instagram allows third-parties to schedule videos

Instagram has allowed third-party apps, such as Hootsuite, MeetEdgar, Loomly, and more, to schedule pictures for Instagram, but it wasn’t until January that they allowed for video scheduling as well. Considering that more and more users are uploading videos, this was a huge win for the brands and businesses that use scheduling apps to manage Instagram.

February 2019

IGTV previews in main feed

As we talked about, you can upload previews of your IGTV videos onto Instagram stories, and now you can share previews on the main feed too. When you scroll through the main feed, if whom you follow chooses to share, you’ll see a one-minute preview from their IGTV video. On the bottom left corner of the video, there’s a button that reads, “Watch full IGTV video,” and if you click it, you’re taken directly to the full video.

Variety shared a quote from an Instagram rep, “With IGTV previews in Feed, we’re making it even easier to discover and watch the latest video content from your favorite follows.”  

Self-harm images removed

Instagram is doing their best to handle pictures of self-harm. They’re working on protecting people who are vulnerable to those images while making sure that they’re not isolating people who are self-harming. They share that they’ve never promoted self-harm, and that they’re working with experts to figure out how to best handle the situation and balance it. The Instagram info center said, “It will take time and we have a responsibility to get this right.”

Features Instagram is currently testing

Title option for Instagram Live

According to Social Media Today, Instagram is testing a new option to include a title on Instagram live. They stated, “This week, some users have spotted a new title option for Instagram live, which appears on the pre-launch screen, and could help to add more content for your viewers.”

This way, your viewers will know what you’ll be talking about, and they’re more likely to stay because they don’t have to stay for five minutes to understand what you’ll be covering.

Direct messaging on the web

The Verge learned from app researcher Jane Manchun Wong that, “Instagram is testing its direct message feature for the web on mobile and on the desktop.” Instagram has always been an app restricted to mobile. You can’t upload stories or pictures from a desktop, so DMs on the web could be, “a huge step forward,” shared The Verge.

Donation stickers

Facebook launched a donate button in 2013, and now they’re testing out a donate sticker for Instagram stories. Techcrunch released this information saying, “New code and imagery dug out of Instagram’s Android app reveals how the Fundraiser stickers will allow you to search for nonprofits and add a Donate button for them to your Instagram Story.”

Watch-Party feature

Mashable shared that Instagram is testing a watch-party feature. The feature would be available in Instagram DMs for group chats.

The rumor began with Jane Manchun Wong, who announced this feature on Twitter. She told Mashable in a Twitter DM, “I’ll find it useful if there’s something interesting and worthy to watch together with a friend abroad. Fingers crossed, I hope they will make IGTV videos co-watchable.”

And there you have it! You’re caught up with Instagram updates from the past six months, plus features currently being tested, so you’re ahead of the game. If you’d like to stay informed, Instagram updates their Info Center, Ad Espresso gives monthly updates, and Instagram usually uploads an Instagram story in which they reveal and explain a new feature. We, of course, also share new features, and explain how they each work. For example, we’ve gone deep into IGTV and Instagram’s algorithms.

Make an effort to stay caught up on all things social media for your brand or business’ sake. You want to know about new features, and how you can apply them to promote and grow your business.

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