Red Hot Update | Instagram Reels and Shop Tabs

Instagram have made some big design changes to the home-screen for the first time in years with the launch of Instagram Reels and Shop Tab. Throughout the launch of Stories in 2016, IGTV in 2018 and the new Shopping feature in 2019 – Instagram has maintained a relatively consistent user experience on the home-screen.

However, as new apps are constantly being introduced, Instagram are trying to stay ahead of the curve by becoming the social media app which integrates all the features other apps have to offer. Whereby Facebook stories never quite took off, Instagram has so far managed to introduce new features successfully – so let’s take a look at the latest updates…

Instagram Reels Tab

The first feature mirrors TikTok’s short-form video content format. This is due to ‘an explosion in short, entertaining videos on Instagram’ according to Instagram, however, many may see it as Instagram simply trying to tap into the latest trend.

With short-form video becoming more popular and Instagram integrating it as a main feature – it looks as though this trend will have longevity. With IGTV also a main feature in the app, a big question will be whether it takes off…

Short-form video is evidently popular, mainly amongst a younger demographic. According to Statista, in 2019, over a quarter of smartphone users (26%) aged 18-24 were using TikTok.

This percentage dramatically dropped in the 25-34 age bracket, to only 9.3% using TikTok. The majority of TikTok users are under the age of 24, which is unsurprising when you visit the app. Long-form video most certainly still has its place, with YouTube still being the most popular platform for watching video.

Although Instagram Reels may take a while to become as popular as TikTok – with a billion users seeing the Reels tab on their Instagram home-screen every day, it wouldn’t be surprising if creators migrate across and bring their large audiences with them. We all saw what happened to Snapchat after Instagram introduced Stories.

Shop Tab

As part of Instagram’s ever evolving in-app shopping experience, all users now have the direct Shopping tab on their homepage. There are four main features within the Shopping tab: ‘Browse Shops’, ‘See Editors’ Picks’, ‘Explore Guides’ and ‘Shop Collections’.

So, who will this work in favour of – small businesses, marketers or influencers?

The ‘Browse Shop’ tab opens-up to personalized recommendations, meaning that users can browse products they are likely to be interested in (from businesses both big and small) without having to consume any influencer content. Influencers come in with the ‘Explore Guides’ feature, where they can write blog type features or just show off their ‘favourite’ products.

‘Editor’s Picks’ are curated by Instagram’s own Shop Channel – we can see this being less popular as users are more likely to be interested in personalised recommendations or products from their favourite influencers.

Although Instagram are trying to stay relevant in an ever changing social media landscape, there is a risk that the app will become too overcrowded.

We have seen a trend of social media channels trying to incorporate too many features – but only usage data will tell whether it is a success. So far, Instagram has successfully managed to include more features, without losing their userbase. If the new features lead to people spending more time, and ultimately money on the app, then Instagram will be onto a winner.

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