Social Throwback 2021: Instagram ‘s year of pushing content creation – Reels, Collab, Insider & more

Instagram 2021

From giving users more tools to create collaborative content to allowing everyone to share links on Stories, 2021 was ‘a year of giving’ at Instagram. The platform was seen heavily democratizing content creation – making minimum edits accessible and views ample for Reels.

A year heavy with growth and lessons, Instagram shone brightly in 2021. Several features and campaigns were launched, taking things up a notch for users on the platform. If there was one thing Instagram worked on the most this year, it was to facilitate collaborative content. One can see it as a means to make up for the hollow emptiness people were feeling due to the COVID-19-induced restrictions in real life. They couldn’t meet people to create content and depended on online connections to keep going. Instagram understood the assignment and acted on it to help forge and grow these connections.

Instagram also put in the effort to highlight the work creators were doing on the platform. Thus, launching Instagram Insider. It became a space for the team to showcase their best offerings, both features, and creators, nudging more users to follow suit.

Collab Like Never Before

Collab was rolled out globally by Instagram this year, allowing two accounts to collaborate on a single Reel or Feed Post. These posts would show up on both profile grids and be shared with both sets of followers. It proved to be an excellent tool for accounts to expand their horizon and reach out to new, related audiences, piggybacking on the success of the account with more reach. Since the rollout, it has been primarily used by creators to co-create content, publishers to share content on two sister publications under them, and celebrities to tag the brands or production house they are seemingly getting paid by for the said content.

Remix Reels: New Content

Created on the lines of ‘Duet’ on TikTok, Instagram’s Remix feature allowed users to create Reels with the video content of others playing alongside it. This feature was prominently used by creators in a manner of co-creation as well as fans who want to co-create with their favourite creators. It also proved to be an excellent tool for upcoming creators to leverage the popularity of the established ones. Some creators even posted Reels with an open-ending, leaving room for people to complete the story/narrative. The feature was used by people to create, share a reaction and/or add their perspective to the other user’s Reel.

Pronouns and Identity

In a move towards making the platform a safe, gender-inclusive space, Instagram launched a new feature this year — allowing users to add up to four pronouns on their profile. The idea behind it was to help people openly express themselves on the platform. Users could either display the pronouns to everyone or just their followers. For users under 18, the pronouns are only visible to their followers by default. Though users could only select from a list of pronouns, they could also fill out a form and inform Instagram about adding a new one to the list, one that makes them feel the most comfortable and at home.

Insider: A Digital Magazine

To highlight rising content trends and influential creators, Instagram launched a digital magazine in 2021. Titled Instagram Insider, the digital magazine is a slim PDF. Available free of cost, the magazine is an essential read for those who wish to keep up with Instagram trends and strategies. Packaged as a repository of information and guides, Insider helps readers gain a better understanding of the platform. In the words of the platform, Instagram Insider is all about inspiration and discovery, not just of the trends but the people behind them.

Everyone Can Share Links Now!

This year, Instagram granted all users the option to share links in Stories using a newly rolled out sticker. It was a landmark decision as, for the longest time, the feature was only available to users with more than 10k followers or those who had verified handles. Instagram discarded Swipe-Up this year, making way for the link sticker. The platform hopes that the link sticker would help creators and businesses on the platform to reach more users, engage their community, and grow the reach.

Instagram 2021

Here’s a quick look at a month-wise update on Instagram:

January 2021

US President Donald Trump gets banned from Instagram


February 2021

  • Users gets the option to restore deleted content for up to 30 days
  • Vertical feed is tested for Stories

March 2021

  • Resources are launched to improve kid’s online safety
  • Instagram works on developing Audio Rooms and end-to-end encryption

April 2021

  • Instagram launches the first edition of ‘Instagram Insider’ digital magazine
  • New in-stream video ad formats are tested
  • Feature launched to filter abusive messages and protect users from unwanted contact
  • Remix option is introduced for Reels

May 2021

  • Option to remove likes is rolled out
  • Insights are introduced for Reels and Live
  • New feature is launched, allowed users to add pronounces in bio

June 2021

  • Reels ads are launched for businesses
  • Instagram explains ranking algorithm for Home, Explore, and Reels posts
  • Affiliate tool and new shop features launched to boost creator businesses

July 2021

  • New updates are released for users under 16
  • Sensitive content control rolled out for users
  • Collab & Calender tool are launched
  • Security Checkup is launched to resecure hacked accounts

August 2021

  • Prompt to input birthday launched to help users consume age-appropriate content
  • Instagram launches the Fall 2021 edition of Insider
  • Ads are launched in the Shop Tab and Search is updated
  • Swipe-up links are discarded for Stories
  • Professional Dashboard gets a new hub that displays a collection of posts, facilitating content strategy

September 2021

  • Instagram pauses launch of kids version after backlash
  • Verification process is updated

October 2021

  • All users get the option to share links on Stories
  • New branded content features launched
  • New music features launched for Reels
  • Ads that enable users to message business on WhatsApp launched

November 2021

  • New monetisation option launched for creators in Live
  • Safe Stree and MyKanoon launched to promote online safety
  • Stickers and multi-author Stories launched for Diwali

December 2021

  • 25 Under 25 Instagrammers in India announced
  • All BTS members join the platform with individual accounts

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