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Five Instagram features that have transformed the app over the years

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Instagram features that have transformed the app

A new feature is set to be introduced on Instagram in the coming months/years with reverse engineer, Alessandro Paluzzi, exposing his findings on X. The new feature will be called ‘Blend' and it will provide users with private recommendations of reels for them and a friend.

The recommendations through Blend will be based on the types of reels you have previously shared with other friends on the app. The algorithm will then gain an understanding of the types of reels you and said friend enjoy and then recommend similar ones to both of you.

The upcoming release of ‘Blend' on Instagram is the latest demonstration of how the app is always looking for new and innovative ways to engage users. Since its creation in 2010, the app has continuously and consistently evolved to ensure it is ahead of the curve to keep users ticking over nicely.

At present, there are 2 billion active users on Instagram which tells you all you need to know on how successful these updates have been. Today, we're going to look at five Instagram features that have transformed the app and made it what it is today.

Instagram features that have transformed the app

Instagram features that have transformed the app: Five of the best

Hashtags

Like many of Instagram's core features, hashtags were an idea they effectively robbed from X (then known as Twitter). Using hashtags is now second nature on Instagram but at the time it revolutionised the platform and increased engagement levels exponentially.

By using certain hashtags on uploads on Instagram, users can connect with other users who have used the same hashtag on their uploads. You can also search for hashtags via the Instagram search bar to find images and videos related to a certain topic. In many ways, hashtags are central to the success of Instagram even today.

Algorithmic feeds

In March 2016, Instagram made the bold decision to ditch chronological feeds to algorithmic ones. Previously, users would scroll through uploads from people they follow in order of when they were posted, with the most recent ones showing up at the top of the feed. It meant that users would often have to scroll endlessly to find posts from people they were most interested in.

The change to algorithmic feeds meant that users started to receive the posts that they were most interested in when they first logged onto the app. The benefit of algorithmic feeds is that it adapts with your interests over time. If you start engaging with a certain follower more, then their posts will start to appear higher up your feed.

Stories

In 2016, Instagram added Stories to its platform in a bid to compete with Snapchat which was booming around this time. The Stories section of Instagram allows users to upload temporary pictures and videos to the app which expire after a set amount of time. It was basically a way to get people to post more on Instagram without them having to commit to having posts on the grid.

Instagram added filters and games to their Stories section to try get more and more people to use the feature and it has definitely worked. In 2023, 500m people used Instagram Stories regularly with around 86% of all Instagram users posting something on their story every day.

Instagram stories

Carousels

When Instagram was first launched, users could only post one thing at a time which made things tricky. First of all, people typically take hundreds of photos whenever they go out so finding just one Instagram-suitable picture was often a challenge.

Secondly, it meant users couldn't upload galleries of pictures to capture a special event or vacation. This often resulted in people turning to Facebook for multiple uploads but this has all changed with the introduction of carousels on Instagram which allow users to post up to ten pictures/videos in a single post.

Reels

The most recent Instagram feature update that has been a huge hit is Reels. Like with Stories in 2016, Instagram were piggybacking another popular social media platform when they introduced Reels in 2020 but this time it was TikTok rather than Snapchat.

Through Reels, users can upload short-form videos up to 90 seconds (previously 15 seconds) accompanied by music and/or filters. The success of TikTok proved that short-form videos were the way forward and Instagram jumped all over it.

Andy is a Professional Content Editor with expertise in a whole host of areas (or so he tells us anyway). His main interests are Startups, innovation and social media. He has reviewed over 100 stris so far for stri.us

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