September was a busy month for Instagram. The platform continues to adapt at breakneck speed, with new features and changes launching almost weekly.
Will Instagram continue to chase TikTok’s runaway success or find a new way to stand out? And will the pivot to Reels pay off? Stay tuned — we’re just as curious as you are.
Here’s what happened in September on Instagram:
Instagram is testing a new way to categorize Reels, according to social media consultant Matt Navarra.
New! Instagram lets you add 'Topic' tags to Reels
— Matt Navarra – Exiting X… Follow me on Threads (@MattNavarra) September 5, 2022
The new option allows users to add “Topic” tags to their Reels when uploading. The topic tag should help users “reach people who share your interests.”
If the icon is any clue, topics might be the next evolution of Instagram hashtags. After all, they’re both used to categorize content. Hashtags often have a bad reputation for keyword stuffing. But topics could offer Instagram more control. It seems safe to speculate that the platform is trying to improve recommendations without completely outsourcing them to users (RIP #likeforlike).
Instagram head Adam Mosseri has said that “[hashtags] help us to understand what a post is about” but don’t improve reach. Topics, though, might help Instagram’s algorithm learn more about related content. A smarter recommendation engine can then promote Reels to a more engaged audience.
TikTok-style recommended content is still a touchy subject at Instagram. The platform received criticism this year for flooding users’ feeds with recommended posts. Mosseri may have backtracked on some changes, but that retreat is likely only temporary.
This latest test proves that Instagram is still focused on Reels and recommended content. If topic tags can help improve those recommendations, we’re all for them.
The Instagram Shop tab will soon disappear from the app, according to an internal memo.
The Information reports that Instagram will be scaling back its shopping features as the platform refocuses on generating ad revenue.
Instagram first introduced the Shop element on the Explore page in July 2020, with the dedicated Shop tab following later that same year. The Shop features came out as global ecommerce sales exploded in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic.
This latest news, though, along with the recently announced end of Facebook Live Shopping, seems to indicate that Meta hasn’t found as much success as they’d hoped with in-stream commerce.
Instagram hasn’t given up on shopping entirely, though. This change is more of a paring back than a complete 180. “Tab Lite,” a “simpler and less personalized” version of the page, is set to replace the Shop tab.
Tab Lite has now launched in limited tests, with the platform reportedly planning to eliminate the dedicated shopping button entirely by March 2023.
Instagram is testing a new post option that looks a lot like one of Twitter’s most popular features.
Reposting, or sharing others’ content with your followers, may soon be available for your Instagram feed.
The platform has been working on a repost feature since May 2022, according to app researcher Alessandro Paluzzi.
#Instagram is working on Reposts 👀
— Alessandro Paluzzi (@alex193a) May 12, 2022
However, Instagram has now confirmed to TechCrunch that the feature is now in testing “with select users.”
“We’re exploring the ability to reshare posts in Feed — similar to how you can reshare in Stories — so people can share what resonates with them, and so original creators are credited for their work,” a Meta spokesperson explained.
Reposts will also have their own tab on Instagram profiles, as seen in this screenshot shared by social media consultant Matt Navarra.
Instagram Reposts Tab on profiles?!
What’s dis Adam? pic.twitter.com/WayWCJGBfx
— Matt Navarra – Exiting X… Follow me on Threads (@MattNavarra) September 7, 2022
This latest update is an interesting move, especially considering the public outcry following Instagram’s most recent attempts to fill feeds with unwanted content.
However, we wonder if people will actually use it or continue posting content they like to their Instagram stories instead of their carefully curated main feeds.