A look at what’s new on Instagram Image Credit: Instagram/Meta

Meta-owned Instagram, with over 2 billion daily active users and the fourth most used social media platform, has continuously added new features to improve user experience.

During the last few years, Instagram has evolved from a photo-sharing app into one that now features Reels and Stories. As it continues to gain more users, the platform is rolling out more updates for creators, influencers, and everyone who wants to express themselves better.

Time spent on Instagram increased by 24%

Since Meta launched TikTok-rival short-video app Reels, AI recommendations have driven a more than 24 per cent increase in time spent on Instagram, Zuckerberg has said. Reels continues to grow quickly on Instagram.

“Reels also continue to become more social with people resharing Reels more than 2 billion times every day, doubling over the last six months. Reels are also increasing overall app engagement and we believe that we’re gaining share in short-form video too,” Zuckerberg said during the company’s quarterly earnings call.

We’ve seen Reels time become more incremental to overall engagement on our services as we continue to improve our recommendation system

- Mark Zuckerber, Meta founder and CEO

As part of its recent announcement, the company has introduced some interesting features that will make it easier for users to create Instagram reels. Earlier this month, Instagram added a dedicated destination for trending audio and hashtags, two new metrics to Reels insights and brought gifts on Reels to more countries.


New features and updates are constantly being added to Instagram, making keeping up with them difficult. The following are some of the latest updates you should check out:

Songs to photo carousels

Instagram is testing a new tool that will let users add songs to their photo carousels on the platform.

According to  Zuckerberg, the tool is already available in a “few countries with more to come.”

Instagram already allows users tag songs to individual photos but now, they will be able to add their favourite songs to the photo carousel as they swipe through the photo collection. Zuckerberg also said that the Instagram is testing a new way to add music to Notes.

Improved avatars

Meta has introduced new body shapes, improved hair and clothing textures to its avatars to help users better express themselves. The company also announced that over one billion avatars have been created across its platforms.

Meta has also revamped the appearance of an avatar's hair, clothing, and eyes in stickers, profile pictures, cover photos, and more.

“Today we’re announcing some improvements to Meta Avatars that will help freshen up your look just in time for spring. We’re adding a handful of new avatar body shapes to help you better express yourself—especially if expressing yourself means dancing along to ‘Hips Don’t Lie’,” Meta said in a blogpost on Thursday.

New body shapes: Under new body shapes, the company has added more choices for users to choose from a wider range of body shape options, including two curvier body shapes for the femme-presenting.

Moreover, the company said it is also refining some of its existing options to help differentiate them as well.

Hair and clothing textures: Meta has also revamped the appearance of an avatar’s hair, clothing, and eyes in stickers, profile pictures, cover photos, and more.

“Sparing you the nitty-gritty technical breakdown, we’ve added additional detail and realism to both hair and clothing, meaning whether you’re rocking a clean fade and suit or bedhead and sweats, your avatar should “pop” a little better than before,” Meta said.

“We’ve also tweaked our lighting model to add a little more of a reflective gleam to your eyes, making them sparkle and bring your personality to life,” it added.

New PUMA looks : Meta has also collaborated with PUMA to add seven new outfits to the Meta Avatars Store, which debuted last year and allows users to purchase digital clothing for their avatars.

Add up to 5 links to bio

A new feature that Instagram unveiled last week will allow users to post up to five links to their profile bios.

“Probably one of the most requested features we’ve had,” Zuckerberg wrote in a post on his Instagram channel.

With the new feature, users can now add links by editing their profile in the mobile app, where they can give them titles and reorder how they’ll appear.

However, if a user adds more than one link to their profile, visitors will need to click through a message that says “(Your first link) and 1 other” to view the complete list of links, according to the report.

This means that if a user has more than one link to display on their Instagram profile or already utilises a ‘Link in bio’ service like Linktree, folks will have to click an extra time to see their links.

How to add 5 bio links on Instagram:

  • 1. Open the Instagram app and click to edit your profile
  • 2. Tap the Edit Profile button in the top right corner.
  • 3. Scroll down and tap on the ‘links’ option.
  • 4. Tap to add external link.
  • 5. Enter the URL of the link you want to add.
  • 6. Enter a ‘Title’ for the link and save
  • 7. Tap add link.
  • 8. Repeat steps 5-7 to add more links.
  • 9. Tap ‘Done’ when you’re finished.

New broadcast channels

According to Mark Zuckerberg, a broadcast conversation function called Channels was just recently implemented.

Creators can use broadcast channels to help keep their followers updated and share behind-the-scenes moments using text, photo, video, voice notes and polls. Image Credit: Meta

“I’m starting a channel to share news and updates on all the products and tech we’re building at Meta,” Zuckerberg said in a Facebook post.

“It will be the place I share Meta product news first.”

“Creators can also use voice notes to share their latest updates and behind-the-scenes moments, and even create polls to crowdsource fan feedback,” the company said in a blogpost on Thursday.

However, only creators can send messages in the broadcast channels and followers can react to content and vote in polls. The company further mentioned that more features will be added to these channels in the coming months, such as the ability to bring another creator into the channel to discuss upcoming collaborations, crowdsource questions for an “ask me anything” and much more.

Once a creator gets access to broadcast channels and sends the first message from their Instagram inbox, their followers will receive a one-time notification to join the channel,” it added.

Moreover, followers can leave or mute these channels at any time and can also control their notifications from creators.

Creators can also encourage their followers to join by using the “join channel” sticker in Stories.

Here’s how to join a broadcast channel
• Access the link to the broadcast channel on a mobile device via a creator’s Story sticker, the link pinned to their profile or, as an existing follower, a one-time notification sent when a creator starts a new channel.

• Tap “Join broadcast channel.” People not yet following the creator will be prompted to do so.

• After joining the channel, it will appear in the Instagram inbox next to other message threads.

• Followers can react to content and vote in polls, but cannot send messages. They can also share a link to their favorite creators’ broadcast channels so friends can follow and join.

Instagram Reels: Trends, Editing and Gifts

Earlier this month, Instagram added a dedicated destination for trending audio and hashtags, two new metrics to Reels insights and brought gifts on Reels to more countries.

Creators will now be able to see what the top trending topics and hashtags are on Reels.

Creators of Reels will be able to see the top trending songs on Reels, see how many times the audio has been used. Image Credit: Meta

Explore what’s trending on Reels

Creators will now be able to see what the top trending topics and hashtags are on Reels.

According to Meta, users will be able to view the top trending songs on Reels as well as the number of times the same music has been played. The audio can be used by users as well as saved for personal use.

The user will also be able to check what the top trending topics and hashtags are on Reels, which will help them create their own content.

Instagram's edit screen will soon include video clips, audio, stickers, and text for easy editing of reels Image Credit: Meta

Reels are now easier to edit

Meta has said that Instagram users will soon be able to edit their reels on Instagram by bringing together video clips, audio, stickers, and text on a unified editing screen. This makes it easier to align and time elements of your reel to the right moments in a more visual way.

“We’re making it easier for you to edit your reels on Instagram by bringing together video clips, audio, stickers, and text on a unified editing screen,” said Meta.

This feature is available globally, across both iOS and Android devices.

A dedicated destination where creators can be inspired by the latest trends. Image Credit: Meta

Updates to Reels Insights

The two new metrics being added on Reels are total watch time and average watch time.

“Total watch time captures the total amount of time your reel was played, including any time spent replaying the reel. Average watch time captures the average amount of time spent playing your reel, calculated by dividing watch time with the number of total plays,” explained the company.

Instagram adds two new metrics: total watch time and average watch time – and making it easier to see your insights while viewing your reels directly. Image Credit: Meta

For example if your average watch time is 17 seconds, out of everyone who watched your Reel they watched an average of 17 seconds.

This will help creators better understand where people are being engaged or where you may need to create a stronger hook to have viewers stay longer.

Gifts on Reels

The company is also adding a new feature ‘Gifts on Reels’ to show creators which fans have sent them a gift, so they can recognise their supporters. Creators will be able to tap on the heart icon next to their supporters to notify them that they have received and viewed the gifts.

The new feature will show you which fans have sent you a gift so you can recognize your supporters Image Credit: Meta

‘Quiet mode’

Earlier in January, Meta has introduced a new ‘Quiet mode’ on Instagram, which will allow users to pause notifications whenever they want to take a break from the social networking platform.

Once the new mode is enabled, users will not receive any notifications and their profile’s activity status will change to let people know, the company said in a blogpost.

Quiet Mode: A new way to manage your time and focus Image Credit: Meta

Moreover, the platform will automatically send an auto-reply when someone sends users a direct message (DM).

Users can easily customise their Quiet mode hours to fit their schedule and once the feature is turned off, the platform will show them a quick summary of notifications so they can catch up on what they missed.

‘Anyone can use Quiet mode, but we’ll prompt teens to do so when they spend a specific amount of time on Instagram late at night,’ the company said.

Giving users more control over what they see

The company also introduced new features that will allow users to tell the platform what content they don’t want to be recommended to them.

Users can now choose to hide multiple pieces of content in the Explore page that they are not interested in and the platform will try to avoid showing them that type of content.

New ways to manage your recommendations Image Credit: Meta

Hidden words

Moreover, the platform has also expanded its feature that allowed users to hide comments and DMs containing specific words.

Users can now add a word or list of words, emojis or hashtags that they want to avoid, like ‘fitness’ or ‘recipes’.

More control to parents

‘In addition to providing teens with more ways to manage their time and experiences on Instagram, we want to help parents be more aware of the choices their teens make,’ Meta said.

‘Parents can now also view accounts their teen has blocked,’ it added.

Further, parents will be able to view the accounts their kid has blocked.

More features on store

In the coming months, Instagram will be adding more features, such as the ability to bring another creator into the channel to discuss upcoming collabs, collect questions for an AMA via question prompts, and more - the possibilities for connecting with fans are endless, and we can’t wait to see how creators begin using their channels.