5 Incredible Instagram Features Launched in 2020

Instagram is one of the most popular visual content platforms. It is redefining the way we create content, share it with audiences, and the way we like to shop for our best brands. If you want to study online consumer behavior trends using social media, there is no better place than Instagram. And, the kind of Instagram features that were launched in 2020 validates the point that every social media marketing team has been trying to make since Day 1- “add sales directly to the funnel”. COVID-19 gave us that opportunity to do it better — if you agree!

Let’s startle you a bit with numbers we come across on Instagram.

130 million

The number of Instagram accounts that merely tap on a shopping post to learn more about products every month.

500 million

The number of accounts that visit Instagram Stories daily.


of Instagrammers surveyed in the US say that they love to shop and consider it a hobby.

These numbers were Pre-COVID. We would be bamboozled by the growth witnessed since the lockdowns were enforced.

Since the spiraling fall of TikTok and other Chinese-based social media apps, the number of Instagram users has grown exponentially. Today, it is one of the most veritable marketing and advertising platforms for all kinds of content producers and brands. This year, Instagram has done so many things differently, like most technology companies around the world. One of them is to keep the UI UX and messaging features relatable to its true nature. We tracked down the top Instagram features announced in 2020 that showcase the company’s brilliant product marketing strategy. It depicts how Instagram manifests ease of use, seamless activity tracking, and high-quality visual content promotion for all users.

So, let’s begin.

Instagram Messaging on Desktop

Back in April 2020, Instagram released Instagram Messaging or simply “Messaging” for personal desktop.

Instagram has always been a mobile-native application — but things change dramatically at Facebook. From being one of the first mobile-only to mobile-first applications, Instagram has switched to a larger space, redirecting users to use the application on desktops and non-mobile devices.

Let’s understand the sentiments here — users always wanted a desktop web experience to prove their content could perform across all omnichannel marketing platforms.

We all know that Instagram is now part of Facebook, the company that also owns social messaging apps such as Messenger and WhatsApp. WhatsApp launched its web version of chat messaging for private conversations back in 2015. Instagram product team took inspiration from WhatsApp Web platform to create a very similar web-based experience that syncs with the user’s mobile device.

Users can now use the desktop messaging features to improve their experiences on a larger screen, where they can interact and consume visual content at a higher quality.

Now, Desktop Messaging is not acting as an alternative to mobile interface; rather, it’s supporting mobile conversations with enhanced user engagement and visibility measured by the desktop web experience tracking analysts.

This is what the analysts found out:

  • Desktop users were active through weekdays between 6 am and 2 pm
  • Mobile app users were using the messaging platform mostly on weekends between 5 pm and 7 pm.
  • The website version on the desktop is particularly favored by business accounts and users who took short breaks at work to chat on their work systems.
  • Before testing a holistic web experience for the whole Instagram platform, the team simply chose to experiment with desktop versions. The idea didn’t cannibalize into native apps’ time-spend.
Source: Instagram
Source: Instagram

Instagram Shop

Social media has established itself as an active e-commerce channel. Instagram leads the way, alongside its siblings, WhatsApp Business, and Facebook app. In its Explore section, Instagram users have access to Instagram Shop, a totally new feature that makes it easier for shoppers to reach authentic brands and retailers around the world.

The launch comes just over a year after the company announced @shop account to feature a community of people who love to shop and connect with their most-loved brands and sellers.

Personally, I love shopping on the platform I socially connect with. I am an average user when it comes to online/e-commerce shopping habits. According to a social media monitoring survey, 55% of online retail sales were contributed from social media channels. This was in 2018. In 2020, with pandemic lockdowns virtually putting physical stores out of reach for every shopper, the social media sales would have definitely witnessed a ginormous spike in volume and variety.

What’s cool with Instagram Shop?

Well, if you have the Facebook Pay account, you can purchase your product with a single tap in a secure payments gateway environment. It is laced with all the new advanced security features like Fingerprint biometrics, Face ID, PIN, and TWA.

This is how it works.

The Vanishing Act

Some users could be very irresponsible with online chatting, sharing content they shouldn’t be in groups or in private. While WhatsApp Messenger has a “Delete” message option, Instagram messenger lacked the agility. The users found it extremely hard to control message visibility once they were seen by the recipients.

But now, Instagram users have access to a highly useful feature, “Vanish Mode” – a mode that you can choose to “hide” seen-messages after they are seen or once you close your chat window!

In addition to Vanish Mode, Instagram also allows senders to fix its “Message Controls” with enhanced reporting and blocking updates.

COVID-19 Information, Live Donations and So on

New staying home sticker promoting social distancing on Instagram Stories

Facebook has always been in the midst of social media advocated blaming its platform for spreading and promoting fake news information, violence, hatred, and bullying. With the onset of COVID-19 information targeting citizens with misleading content, Instagram launched a special, dedicated COVID-19 resources discovery tab to support healthcare initiatives, and promote access to accurate information.

From creating special COVID-19 “Stay Home” stickers to launching a new agile video chat feature on Instagram, it made social distancing fashionable and safer.

In addition to curating and tracking COVID-19 and Coronavirus tags, it worked with the WHO and local health ministries to bring reliable information on COVID-19 spread and precautions. The AI-based text analytics and NLP tracked down fake information and promotional hashtags on sanitizers, masks, and vaccinations, black-listing the accounts for spreading fake info.

Screenshot of search in Instagram for COVID-19, coronavirus, information

In addition to promoting reliable COVID-19 information, Instagram features also listed new ways to raise donations around the world. The launch of Live Donations is the single-most popular medium on Instagram to raise monies that go to a non-profit of your choice. To inspire others in the media, you can share the  “I Donated” sticker and help support those affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

Screenshots of the Live Donations Instagram sticker in Stories which can show the total amount raised on Instagram.


Instagram Reels

This has to be the ah-ha moment of the social media video marketing trends for the year!

Saving for the last- we know the value of video marketing and influencer marketing coming together in heightening the brand-user engagements. What YouTube started as a trend, Instagram Stories took it forward in 2019. But, now it’s “REELS” era to explore.

We have tons of resources on video marketing trends and what length works best for content creators! Looks like, 15-30 seconds is the real show-stealer in the current era.

I shot this Instagram Reels today with my HONOR9 Smartphone.

Shot on Honor9 Smartphone
Shot on Honor9 Smartphone

Almost coinciding with TikTok’s ban and fiasco around security policies, Facebook pounced on the opportunity to retain and redirect users to use Reels – fun to use video-creation tool. It allows users to create entertaining “reels” spanning 15 seconds. Recently, Reels was offered with an extended 30 seconds video length as well.

Instagram Reels is a highly influential viewer engagement tool, as billions of new videos are created monthly. It is populated with high-quality audio effects, AR effect, and user-friendly interfaces for Timer/Countdown in hands-free mode.

Together with Stories and Live, Instagram Reels has become the most-viewed content on social media for Facebook users.

Facebook is Master of Tik Tok Ticking

Facebook’s Instagram product development team could be testing this desktop messaging platform to ascertain if these features can be applied to other services to improve user experiences across all of their interfaces.

As we head to the end of 2020 with holiday shopping discounts and offers to make new sales and engagement delivery records, Facebook and Instagram marketing teams are already planning the year 2021 in advance to make up for the losses this year.

We wish everyone best of luck and happy holiday shopping outcomes!

[To share your ideas, please write to us at sghosh@martechseries.com]
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