18th November 2020


Erica Perry


Instagram launched Reels in August after a year of testing. Now the platform is taking its leadership position in the e-commerce space seriously, competing with companies like TikTok in particular by making some bold real estate changes that make it known right off the main screen.

Here's a look at some of the updates brands and marketers can expect from their feeds, and how you can lean into them to connect with their audiences.

Prioritize the short-form video feed

With the new redesign, the Compose button and Activity tab move and are now available in the top right corner of the home screen, while the middle middle button now, as you guessed it, belongs to the Roles icon. Previously, reel videos were mixed up with other photo and video uploads found on the Explore page or in your feed if someone shared one. This resulted in the platform testing new layouts over the past few months as early users said the content was hard to find. The "Roles" button now takes you to a special page with curated content organized by people you follow and your previous engagement patterns and interests.

As far as we can assume that ads will appear in Reels soon, the quick answer is yes. Instagram head Adam Mosseri told CNBC in a statement, “I think we can use the story ad format [for roles] as it's the same immersive experience. This is helpful because you don't need advertisers to create a ton of new creatives. “This could pave the way for more welcome advertising opportunities for brands, especially younger populations who crave experience with the content being delivered to them.

With 2020 underscoring actionable insights, it's important that consumers engage in the spaces where they are already interacting. This leads to the successful, real action and loyalty required to overcome the clutter.

Promote inspiration, commerce and support for small businesses

According to some estimates, including those by analysts at IBM, COVID-19 has accelerated the transition to e-commerce by at least five years. Instagram has been practically shopping since 2018. However, to keep up with the current evolution in e-commerce and consumer behavior patterns, the platform has wasted no time taking drastic measures to turn around accordingly.

Earlier this summer, in July, Instagram began testing the Store tab instead of the Activity tab in an attempt to refer users to an updated version of the Instagram store. Here they had the opportunity to filter by brands they followed on Instagram or by product categories. More recently, the platform has been showing this tab more clearly when there is a surge in younger populations where influencers are looking for inspiration.

"… We saw an explosion of short, fun videos on Instagram. We also saw an incredible amount of online shopping. More and more people are shopping online and young people are looking for recommendations to buy from their favorite creators," shared Instagram – Chef Mosseri in the official announcement.

With the push, users can more easily access personalized recommendations, shoppable videos and new product collections, as well as browse the editors' choices curated by the @shop channel.

Find a balance between speed and simplicity

The overall goal of redesigning the design, as explained by Director of Product Management, Robby Stein, is to create an expanded suite of products that is both simple and seamless. In other words, there is a clear and fixed place to post your own content, a specific place to be entertained, and a dedicated hub for shopping.

In the announcement, Mosseri also reiterated that the platform's biggest risk is not the pace at which it is developing, but rather that it is stagnating and inevitably becoming irrelevant. This is a particularly relevant point when considering how people create and enjoy culture, and what that means for marketers. Adaptability is inevitable and a necessity for long-term relationships. The key, however, is to do so in a targeted manner and with a tendency to take simple, simple actions that are driven by authentic digital experiences.

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Photo credit: marketingland.com


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