It’s been no secret that social media has played an enormous role during the global pandemic; keeping families and friends connected, helping people share ideas and information, and allowing brands and businesses to keep advertising and trading. Therefore, it’s no surprise that new trends have evolved over the past few months, with social media users getting ever more creative!

Naturally, social media giants have been keeping a close eye on these evolving consumer patterns and trends, for example, LinkedIn and Twitter are now following in the footsteps of Instagram and Facebook by introducing a new Stories feature. However, for me, it’s Instagram that has stood head and shoulders above their social counterparts with their innovative new features and functions that aim to not only entertain users, but also support businesses and creators during this difficult time.

a woman scrolling through Instagram

Let’s take a look at the interesting new features Instagram will be rolling out for the remainder of 2020!

Shops

Facebook (who owns Instagram) have launched their biggest move into e-commerce yet with the introduction of Shops!

Business owners can create a dedicated “shop” section on their Facebook Page or Instagram profile and build out a catalogue of products and services that visitors can browse, save, share, and even purchase.

Spying a hole in the market for small and local businesses struggling during COVID-19, Shops essentially allows small businesses to build and create their own online stores on both Facebook and Instagram. Businesses will be able to tag their products in posts and live streams, boosting their advertising efforts and awareness. While users can browse, save, share and purchase from a catalogue of products that the brand has uploaded to the shop.

Furthermore, Facebook is currently testing ways to make it easier to earn rewards with businesses by connecting shoppers with existing brand loyalty programmes. For these smaller businesses, who perhaps don’t have an e-commerce site as of yet, this is a huge step in the digital direction – enabling them to sell online easily when they previously couldn’t. However, Facebook claims they will not be charging a fee or taking a cut of sales from companies that set up storefronts in the new Shops feature unless they use Facebook’s Checkout feature. If they use “Checkout” to accept payments rather than use another e-commerce software firm they will charge 5% on each purchase, which is higher than typical processing fees but lower than what Amazon or eBay charges.

For those who already do have an e-commerce site for their business, by partnering with Shopify, BigCommerce, Woo, Channel Advisor, CedCommerce, Cafe24, Tienda Nube and Feednomics, Facebook Shops will create a seamless social media shopping experience for users.

With consumers using social media more than ever before for product recommendations; I can imagine the introduction of Facebook Shops will probably be their biggest launch since Instagram introduced Stories in 2016!

IGTV Ads

Music to the ears of social media creators across the globe, as they will now be able to earn money and monetise from their long-form video content. Most social media platforms are adapting their algorithms to encourage content creators to create longer-form content – keeping users on the platform for longer! As a reward, the introduction of IGTV ads will no doubt motivate influencers and brands to utilise this function to engage with their audience further.

In addition, Instagram has recently shared that they will continue to test functions such as options to skip ads after a few seconds to ensure the new feature benefits both the user and creator alike.

example of IGTV

 

Badges in Instagram Live

It hasn’t been hard to notice that everyone is using and watching Instagram Live. From fitness fanatics to beauty gurus, and everyone in between, Instagram Live has massively risen in popularity since the beginning of the government-mandated lockdown. It is clear Instagram has been closely watching their users behaviours and have now launched their new venture called ‘Badges’. Instagram Live Badges is another opportunity to help support content creators on the platform to generate new revenue, while also developing a sense of exclusivity on the platform.

The new concept plays off a popular feature within TikTok and gaming platform Twitch, which allows followers to “tip” creators during their live streams. A user will be able to purchase a badge during the said live stream that will stand out in the comments and unlock additional features including placement on a creator’s list of badge holders.

Green Screen

If you are an avid Zoom or TikTok user, like me, you will be familiar with the ability to replace your home background with something a little more interesting! Now Instagram has been quietly playing with an idea to rival their competition! Let me introduce you to... Gallery Picker. This new Instagram feature will allow users to publish AR effects to Instagram that can be personalised with their own images. Check out Instagram Stories to try out this new feature!

Messenger Rooms

With social distancing measures still firmly in place, people are craving human connection – especially when we aren’t able to travel and visit family and friends. Of course, Instagram recognises this and so have introduced Instagram Messenger Rooms!

Taken from the Facebook Messenger Rooms rollout, Instagram users can now create and join group calls of up to 50 people on the Instagram app. The feature will be completely free to use and with no upper time limits like Zoom, I know this will be a huge hit amongst Instagram users! The best part is that you won’t need a Facebook or Instagram profile to use the tool!

example of people using messenger rooms

The world is changing every day and social media naturally evolves depending on consumer behaviour, the current coronavirus pandemic has meant a lot more people are online and, in turn, those evolutions are now happening a lot faster. So, keep an eye out for lots of changes over the next few months that will make social media a very interesting place to be!

If you are looking to shake up your social media strategy, do not hesitate to get in touch with our team of digital experts! /p>

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