Instagram’s 10th Birthday: Evolving through Culture and Community



It’s a big milestone for Instagram and the platform is celebrating with a range of updates to Reels, the expansion of its eCommerce tools, and more.


Access exclusive SMW+ content by marketers whose careers you can emulate with a free 30-day trial!

In celebration of its 10th birthday, Instagram unveiled several updates over the past few days centered on video, messaging and e-commerce, three major topics top of mind for many brands and creators as of late.

Here’s a breakdown of what’s new:

Reels: Longer clips and improved editing

In August Instagram introduced its TikTok competitor, Reels, giving users the ability to add AR effects from Instagram’s gallery to their videos and record videos hands-free via a timer function. When published, Reels are added to a new tab on the user profile and also posted to the main Instagram feed. Reels are also searchable in the Explore tab in the new Reels section.

In a short period of time since its launch, the platform has onboarded a number of top creators to Reels including Doug the Pug and Prince William and Kate. To build on this momentum, Instagram is responding to feedback from the past few weeks including giving Reels users the ability to create longer videos (up to 30 seconds versus the original 15), extend the timer by 10 seconds when they record, and use tools for trimming and deleting clips to simplify the editing process.

“Culture is the collection of stories we tell, and we believe everyone has something worth saying. But it’s often young people and creators who spark those conversations. They set the trends; they signal what’s next,” shared Adam Mosseri, Head of Instagram. Mosseri also hinted that we could see tabs for Reels in the coming months. Speed is critical for earning and maintaining attention and if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that it is tablestakes for marketers to create for the vertical space and be more open to learning from creators versus simply mimicking the advertising space.

Combining Facebook Messaging with Instagram Direct

One in three people claim that it is difficult to remember where to find a certain conversation thread. Facebook wants to alleviate this confusion by bringing all of its messaging components into a single platform beginning with integrating Messenger and Instagram Direct. Those using Messenger can now cross-share messaging to Instagram without needing to download another app and can also control where they receive messages and calls, such as in your chats or message requests.

“People are communicating in private spaces now more than ever. More than a billion people already use Messenger as a place to share, hang out and express themselves with family and friends,” said Mosseri in the official announcement. Simple, intimate ways to engage will continue to dominate more of our industry’s services and products around these ideas. Messaging apps, for example, have outgrown social networks as the connective tools of choice. What does this mean for marketers? We must continue to rethink our audience relationships in a shifting environment where users favor experiences over products.

E-commerce on IGTV, Stories, Live and Reels

Shopping has become a larger part of the Instagram experience over the past few years — particularly now as consumers complete more purchases online due to COVID-19’s acceleration of e-commerce. To double down on the growth of this trend, users can now view products and make purchases across IGTV, Instagram Live, and Stories with the ability to do the same on Reels coming soon, according to TechCrunch.

The push to allow creators to directly monetize their user base on Instagram, while also giving brands a way to sell merchandise to their fans, not native, however. In 2018, Instagram Explore expanded through its Shopping tab, followed by Stories incorporating Tags into the content. Last year, Checkout was announced giving users a direct way to pay for items directly in the app. Most recently, this past summer the dedicated Shop hub got a major redesign encouraging even more browsing and discovery of brands, creators, and products.

From information sharing to entertainment, socializing, shopping, networking, and mindless scrolling, Instagram has come a long way. By 2030 even more can happen — and it is likely going to involve more emphasis on commerce, innovative ways to organize content, and streamlined processes for connecting with brands.

Join 100,000+ fellow marketers who advance their skills and knowledge by subscribing to our weekly newsletter.

Newsletter Subscription

Get the latest insights, trends and best practices from today's leading industry voices.

Learn More

Write for Us

Interested in sharing your ideas and insights with the world? Become a SMW News contributor and reach 300k readers each month.

Apply Here