Instagram 2020 updates

The 2020 Year in Review: The Biggest Instagram Updates You Need to Know

What a year!

It’s been the longest and the shortest of years at the same time, filled with an enormous amount of ups and downs in all life areas. 

As we’re slowly settling into 2021, it’s time to recap what Instagram has been up to the past year. 

Get ready for some serious tb to 2020 Instagram updates month by month.

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Instagram Updates 2020

So, what’s Instagram been doing in 2020 as the world fell apart and started to slowly build back up again? 

Well, apparently – everything!

From introducing Instagram Shopping to releasing Reels in more than 50 countries, Instagram has updated it all, and then some.

Let’s break it all down. 

Instagram updates – January 2020

The year started off exciting, with several updates and additions for Instagram business users.

Instagram Insights updated with growth metrics

Instagram business users were happy to see they can now track their audience growth rate over the course of seven days. In addition to this, the new feature in the Insights dashboard allows users to track the number of follows and unfollows for the selected time period. 

That’s not all. It also displays data on Stories that mentioned your profile over the last 24 hours. And, users can now see which of their posts and Stories are resulting in the most new follows. 

Age-appropriate content option now available 

Age gating options are enabling creator and business profiles to limit certain age groups from seeing their profiles. The option allows setting up the one default minimum age or to set the age limits by country. 

DM prioritizing

Another cool addition for business accounts includes two tabs for DMs. Professional accounts can now receive all their DMs in the primary tab and decide if they want to prioritize or move them to the general tab for better organization. 

Instagram Updates – February 2020

Let’s recap the three most significant Instagram updates for February 2020. 

New Instagram Twitter account

Instagram has introduced a new Twitter account – @InstagramComms dedicated to updates, news, and important announcements. Their primary account is remaining reserved for community content, events, and similar. 

New additions to the Following section

The Following list is showing followers categorized by latest or earliest. Moreover, you can now track the 50 accounts that show up in your feed the most, along with the 50 accounts you have the least interactions with. 

Similarly, the Follower list also displays the 50 accounts you don’t interact with as much. It also shows accounts you don’t follow back

Simplified safety options

Instagram chose Safer Internet Day to launch updates to the Support Requests. It enables users to check their report status and submit appeals in the app. 

Instagram updates – March 2020

Here’s how Instagram reacted to the global pandemic outbreak. 

Covid-19 Information Centre rolled out 

As the Coronavirus pandemic took over the world in March 2020, a surge of misinformation about the virus started spreading almost as fast. Instagram introduced the Covid -19 Information Centre to counteract the false info with updates and recommendations from reliable health sources. In addition, all potentially harmful info is up for review. 

New Stickers to encourage respecting measures

Stories got updated with new Stay Home and Thanks Health Hero stickers to support the first responder and essential service workers and encourage people to stay home and help flatten the curve. 

More support for Creators with IGTV ads monetization

Instagram started testing out the in-stream ads monetization for creators using the IGTV platform. Reportedly, the goal was to give creators additional opportunities for generating income and earn 55% of ad revenue from IGTV videos. 

Instagram Updates – April 2020 

Here are all the Instagram updates released in April.

Small Businesses get more support

In April 2020, Instagram launched Gift Card and Food Order stickers for Instagram Stories that can also be added as on-profile buttons. The options aim to help small businesses get back on their feet after the pandemic wreaked havoc on their finances. 

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A post shared by Instagram for Business (@instagramforbusiness)

Live donation opportunities

Instagram Live got updated with the Donate button allowing users to support nonprofits. The option lets hosts notice each time a donation has been made, so they can thank the users who also get the I Donated sticker each time they make a contribution. 

Transparency improvements for high-reach profiles

Instagram introduces the option to show location on posts of the high-reach profiles that are outside the country where their audience is based. Transparency is high on the list of Facebook and Instagram priorities – “We want to make sure people understand who is behind the posts they are seeing on Facebook and Instagram.” Instagram profiles are also in plan to have the option added. 

A new look for IGTV

As a creator-oriented platform, IGTV rolled out some additions to get a better competitive advantage over its rival – TikTok. Along with launching the Discover tab to improve users’ organic reach, IGTV started showing a 15-second preview on Instagram. 

Desktop users get DMs 

Instagram enables a direct messages option for desktop users.

Instagram Updates – May 2020

May was all about keeping users entertained at home and streamlining the shopping experience. 

Instagram shopping

One of the most significant updates in 2020 launched direct shopping in-app shopping experience. Allowing businesses and creators to set up Instagram shops, it created a frictionless and streamlined experience for Instagram users. 

Consumers can now find products in profile tabs and Stories and get to the checkout with one click. 

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A post shared by Instagram for Business (@instagramforbusiness)

Shopping was also made possible through Instagram Live. Seeing how pandemic affected the increase in the feature users (70% increase in Live viewership), Instagram piloted the product tags in Live to help brands maximize the trend. 

More support for influencers with badges and ads

Another exciting new feature began its test phase in May. Influencers were able to monetize their Instagram Live sessions with badges for viewers. During a Live stream, audiences could purchase a badge that signals the creator, who can then make a special thank you gesture. 

Another form of support for influencers tested in May was the IGTV ads, which offered additional revenue for creators making IGTV content. 

A longer shelf-life of Instagram Live

The Live streams can now be saved to IGTV and remain a part of creators’ collections. 

Introducing Instagram Guides

Instagram Guides were released to offer better and more in-depth info on different important topics. Designed as a collection of posts and videos, Guides can be found in the Explore tab section, and they are shared in Stories or DMs. 

Troll control

In an attempt to eliminate Instagram bullying, Instagram released a bulk-delete comment feature, and they also enabled users to limit who can tag or mention their profile. 

Giphy integration

By purchasing Giphy, a popular GIF website, Instagram aims to create a more straightforward and smoother visual experience on the platform.

Music and AR effects in Stories

Instagram users were excited to notice some cool additions to their Stories effects. They can now add music and different AR effects to make their Stories really pop.

Instagram Updates – June 2020

Here are the June 2020 Instagram updates you need to know about.

Instagram to re-evaluate their treatment of Black communities

As the Black Lives Matter movement finally got some attention, Instagram began their own introspection. The company wanted to rethink its policies and if and how their processes and features contributed to racial inequalities. They pledged to get more conscious about their hiring, act against harassment, and examine potential account verification discriminations and content distribution. 

The Act for Racial Justice sticker is introduced to the Donation section to encourage support to the communities. 

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A post shared by Adam Mosseri 😷 (@mosseri)

Shopping from captions

June of 2020 also saw testing of the shoppable tag in captions of Instagram posts

Instagram Updates – July 2020

These are the most important Instagram updates for July 2020.

Reels rolled out in India 

As TikTok got banned in India, Instagram launched their response to the popular Chinese app – Instagram Reels. The 15-second video feature got picked up by users in India who previously made up the majority of monthly active users of TikTok. 

A shop icon to replace the heart?

In July, Instagram piloted a one-tap shopping experience by replacing the activity tab with a shopping bag icon in the navigation bar. The heart icon was moved next to the Instagram Direct icon.

Everyone can pin comments from now on

Instagram allowed all users to pin up to three comments to the top of their comment section. The idea behind this decision was to help users better control the tone of their community communication and encourage positivity. Users can pin any comment by swiping left and tapping the pin icon. The author of the comment receives a notification each time their comment gets pinned. 

Want to see more comments on your IG posts? Head on over to our Comments guide on the blog. 

Safety measures emphasized

As the number of Covid-19 cases in the US drastically increased, Instagram moved the Wear a Mask alert to the top of the feed with a link pointing to the Centers for Disease Control website. 

The U.S. election measures

The upcoming U.S. election urged Facebook and Instagram officials to rethink their strategies and add some new features to encourage voting among US citizens. 

Following the Stop Hate For Profit campaign, Instagram started re-examining its policies on political acts. There was an option to ban all political advertising on both platforms. 

July also saw the release of the Instagram Voting Centre to provide voting-age US users with additional info on voting registration, polling locations, and more. The feature also includes the Election Day Countdown Sticker that references voting resources.

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A post shared by Vishal Shah (@vishalshahis)

Instagram Updates – August 2020

Take a look at what major updates Instagram launched in August. 

Reels released in the U.S. among 50+ other countries

Amid the possible U.S. restrictions to TikTok, Instagram jumps to include the US, Canada, Japan, and Australia to the list of markets supporting Reels. 

The decision causes a full-on battle of the apps with influencers, brands, and creators choosing sides. Both IG Reels and TikTok start adding financial benefits for creators to gain a competitive edge.

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A post shared by Adam Mosseri 😷 (@mosseri)

Instagram Stories adds new fonts

Four new fonts were included in the Instagram Stories collection of typestyles, which now count nine. 

Instagram Direct to integrate Messenger

Instagram started testing the new DM feature, which allows Messenger functionalities in Instagram Direct. The update promises more colors and options, including accessing the reply with a swipe up. It will enable users to DM their Messenger contacts from Instagram. 

Instagram Updates – September 2020

The September updates were focused on improving transparency and racial justice along with new shopping opportunities.

Towards a more transparent algorithm

Building upon the actions towards racial equality announced in June, the Instagram equity team announces several new updates. 

The recommendation guidelines offer a peek into how the recommendation algorithm sorts out content in sections like Discover on IGTV and Explore section. Users can now learn what type of content gets excluded from the recommendations.

The number of followers is no longer considered a major criterion for the account verification formula. Still, it puts more focus on including diverse Black, LGBTQ+, and Latinx content in the application process. 

Instagram Live is announced to be updated with comment warnings that prompt users to re-evaluate harmful comments before posting.  

Instagram Shopping spotlighted

In September, we saw Instagram test different variations for the position of the Shopping and Reels buttons in the navigation bar.   

Additionally, Instagram allowed select business and influencer profiles to try Instagram Checkout and Live Shopping features. In an effort to help small businesses experience a seamless shift to online selling dues to the pandemic, Instagram made some additional upgrades, including new customizability options and improved sales analytics for shops. 

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A post shared by Adam Mosseri 😷 (@mosseri)

New attempts to protect the election

To prevent the false info from affecting the upcoming election in the U.S., Instagram has removed around 70 accounts showing fake behavior. This is just one of the actions taken to dismiss allegations of election interference. 

Probably the most enormous attention was drawn to the study that tested the effect of Facebook and Instagram content on the voting choices of individuals. The participants were asked to deactivate their profiles and complete a questionnaire for financial compensation. 

Instagram Updates – October 2020

Here are the updates Instagram released in October.

Integrated Business Suite

Pages Manager App is now Facebook Business Suite. It enables cross-app management for small business Instagram and Facebook accounts. There are plans to include all businesses’ accounts and more apps, including Messenger and Whatsapp.

Captions for IGTV

October also brought automatic AI-powered captions for IGTV videos. The first set counts 15 languages with plans to expand to include more. 

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A post shared by Vishal Shah (@vishalshahis)

Anniversary announcements

Honoring its 10th anniversary, Instagram has launched several exciting additions and features. 

The company underlined its ongoing efforts to provide more support to businesses and creators’ commerce endeavors.

Users can now scroll through their calendars and locate their old Stories. The new option in Settings allows people to change their Instagram icon style to classic, retro, or any of the several other options. 

Reels get longer

Instagram decides to extend Reels length from 15 to 30 seconds along with extending the timer to 10 seconds. Trim and editing tools are also available. 

Instagram Updates – November 2020

As one of the busiest months for the Instagram team in 2020, November brought about some significant changes to the platform.

Reels and Shop icons get a place in the navigation bar

After testing out the new design, Instagram decides to replace the activity and camera icons with Reels and shop tabs in the bottom navigation bar. All users can now enjoy a new experience, having the activity and camera moved up next to the DM icon. 

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A post shared by Adam Mosseri 😷 (@mosseri)

Instagram Ads now supports product tags

Product tags can now be found in Instagram ads too. The feature allows for a more streamlined purchasing cycle, and it can be set up through Ads Manager. 

New additions also include tools like Shopping Engagement Custom Audiences and Shopping Lookalike Audiences that let businesses target their most interested prospects and similar accounts as potential customers.

Influencer campaigns monitoring

Instagram has announced taking measures to better monitor influencer-sponsored content and make sure it’s been properly labeled. Creators will receive prompts to mark their content as required. 

Longer IG Lives 

Instagram introduces four major updates for IG Live:

  • Lives can now last up to 4 hours
  • Their shelf life is now up to 30 days 
  • A new Live Now section will start appearing in IGTV and Explore tabs 
  • Live Badges are now available across 11 countries (the U.S. included)
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A post shared by Vishal Shah (@vishalshahis)


Reels get additional options

Users are now able to browse, save, and share audio for Instagram Reels.

Instagram to re-examine its nudity policy

Following the accusations of discrimination against black communities they received after taking down the post of a plus-size model Nyome Nicholas-Williams in August, Instagram made claims to rethink their nudity policy. The photo showed a model covering her chest with her arms. Instagram explained their action was in line with the Instagram nudity policy. Still, several other claims by Black creators influenced their decision to reconsider their procedure. 

The U.S. election updates 

As previously announced, Facebook and Instagram were introducing several features aimed at stopping the harmful misinformation spread across the platforms ahead of the upcoming election. 

In addition to the Voting Information Centre update, Instagram also disabled the Recent hashtag option until the U.S. elections ended to prevent the false info from interfering with public opinion. 

Instagram Updates – December 2020

The most challenging year ends with several updates, including Instagram Reels, IG Guides, along with a major lawsuit.

Reels gets upgraded with a product and branded content tags

In a true TikTok contender fashion, Reels get pushed to the forefront with new additions coming up each month. In December, Instagram released product tags for Reels along with branded content tags that are now available for Reels and Instagram Live. Shoppable Reels posts can also be boosted as ads to maximize their impact. 

Guides are going mainstream

Following the testing phase in May, Instagram decided to make Guides available to all users from now on. People can now create Guides on any topic they want using regular and product posts. 

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Home and Explore algorithm upgrade

Instagram shares the update to their Home and Explore feed ranking system. Reportedly, the Home feed will rank the content of the profiles you follow based on engagement, relevance, and freshness

Explore algorithm will predict the accounts you would want to interact with based on the similarity in topics. It will predict the rabbit hole phenomena we’re so commonly prone to fall into. To make the matter even more compulsive, Instagram added keyword search to the mix. 

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A post shared by Vishal Shah (@vishalshahis)


The FTC lawsuit threatens to disintegrate Facebook Inc.

Early December saw Facebook facing a serious lawsuit by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission that could potentially cause Facebook to lose Instagram and Whatsapp. The claims made state that the company has illegally sustained “personal social networking monopoly through a years-long course of anticompetitive conduct.” Facebook denied these claims and will continue the fight to preserve the company intact. 

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What’s in store for 2021

As the world exhaled at midnight, hoping for a better and less eventful 2021, it remains to see what the future holds. As for Instagram, we would expect it keeps the upward momentum of new updates rolling out monthly. 

It already started with a bang, as we watched the former U.S president Donald Trump getting blocked from Facebook and Instagram for the foreseeable future due to his involvement in the Washington riots. As Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg stated: “We believe the risks of allowing the President to continue to use our service during this period are simply too great. Therefore, we are extending the block we have placed on his Facebook and Instagram accounts indefinitely and for at least the next two weeks until the peaceful transition of power is complete.”

Don’t forget to check back for new daily updates on everything Instagram.

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