Instagram rolls out four new features

|| October 10, 2019

By Jordan McDonald

55 comms social media coordinator

Instagram recently announced 4 new features that you don’t want to sleep on. The social media app is continuing to develop its focus on enhancing connections with your “close friends” and has introduced a companion app called Threads – more about that shortly. As well as improving the way we connect, Instagram has made a point to improve the shopping experience within the app, so two of the new features should excite those looking to conduct business through the app. Let’s take a look!

Threads

Threads is Instagram’s new standalone messaging app aimed at helping you stay connected with your “close friends”. The app boasts several appealing features like the ability to create statuses, and improved media messaging. If you’re a fan of the “close friends” feature on Instagram then you’ll definitely love Threads. Even if you prefer sending videos to your close friends via Snapchat, I’d recommend giving Threads a try – the functionality is far better.

One feature that I think will concern a few people is the auto-statuses feature. Now, the status updates the app boasts as a feature are very small bites of information that tell people where you are or what you’re doing. They’re very similar to those lots of us enjoyed during the MSN days, things like: “At the airport” and; “At the gym”; and “On the move”. The nostalgia is there to be enjoyed. So, what the auto-status feature does is take note of your location throughout the day and automatically update your status with one that fits. This feature is only available once you give the app permission to know your location, just so that’s clear. To some this will be a complementary addition to their online sharing, but to others, I think it might feel a little intrusive. The options there for those either side of the fence.

Instagram’s new restrict filter

While we’re on the topic of “close friends” and connections, Instagram has also introduced a new filter to combat those we don’t want to connect with. It’s called a ‘restrict’ filter. If someone who follows you is prone to commenting negative or explicit things, then you can simply swipe-left their comment and where “report comment” used to sit alone, a new button appears allowing you to “restrict’ the user. Once activated, that user’s future comments on your content will only be visible to that person, and you will have the ability to approve, remove or ignore it. Of course, the restricted follower isn’t blocked, so your other followers will be able to view that person’s comment if they want by clicking on the message in the comments thread explaining it’s been hidden – it’s a similar function to Twitter’s mute system. The restrict feature also affects direct messaging – any attempt from the account to send a direct message will be automatically moved to a message request and notification of a request will be sent to you. The message can still be ready in requests, (before you accept it), and thankfully doesn’t send a read receipt. I think this feature is going to be super useful and probably continue to evolve.

Try before you buy

Augmented reality shopping is finally coming to Instagram! It’s a positive announcement that’s really going to excite shoppers. The ability to try on an item through your phone camera to see how it looks is something most of us wouldn’t have imagined 10 years ago. Sadly, it isn’t available to all of us yet, it’s currently in beta testing with brands like Warby Parker, MAC Cosmetics, Ray-Ban, and Nars Cosmetics. The feature is a seamless add-on to the existing shopping function on Instagram. If a photo is tagged with a product, click the product, and on that next screen you will see a button saying “Try it on”. It will load up your camera and you’ll have an augmented reality copy of the item you’re looking to purchase and you can try it on. I’m not sure if this has expanded to clothing yet but I’m sure it’s not far off. But for things like sunglasses and makeup, the ability to see that on you before you buy is incredibly powerful. I really look forward to testing this for myself.

New product launch feature

If you’re counting down to the release of your new product then Instagram has a feature for you. Much like the popular countdown sticker, retailers can set up a product launch sticker in the lead-up to a release. If a shopper taps on this sticker in a story, it will set up a notification on their device which will let them know when they’re approaching the product launch and exactly when it’s available so they don’t miss out. It’s a great way to create urgency among shoppers and a really useful tool for retailers to gauge demand/interest.

So, there we go, Instagram’s four new features – half aimed at improving our connections on the app, the other aimed at enhancing our shopping experience. It’s all heading in the right direction over at Instagram HQ and I look forward to seeing what else is revealed before the new year.