Instagram is announcing a couple of new features today that are designed to make the app more appealing to influencers, creators, and online business owners. It’s part of a broader shift within the company to position its photo-sharing app, which is now used by more than 1 billion people every month, as a kind of Facebook replacement. Younger users have for years been leaving the main app for greener, more hip pastures, and Facebook seems to recognize that Instagram is now at a scale and level of cultural ubiquity that it can begin carrying the torch — at least partially.
The first new feature, announced today at Facebook’s F8 developer conference, is a redesigned camera with what Instagram is calling Create Mode. The new mode will make it easy to build a post from scratch without needing to upload an existing photo or video, which is an especially appealing proposition for ardent Stories fans who’ve built big audiences using the Snapchat-style format. The second new feature is dedicated shopping tags that will let any influencer, artist, or celebrity tag an article of clothing they’re wearing so followers can buy that item on the spot, all from within Instagram.
Prior to the announcement, Instagram says only companies were able to take advantage of shopping tags to sell products using the platform’s new in-app checkout process, which is still in beta. Now, Instagram says “public figures, creators, athletes, publishers, and artists” will gain access to the feature, which will let them tag articles of clothing and let followers buy those items immediately within the app.
Instagram says it’s not taking a cut of revenue, but it does require creators to use Instagram’s Checkout beta, which involves a selling fee the company is testing. For now, Instagram says it will start testing the shopping tags “with a small group of creators” next week. It’s not clear right now how one will gain access to the feature in the future or if it will involve Instagram’s approval.
In addition to creator-focused features, Instagram is also launching a donation sticker for Stories to let people raise money for nonprofits from within the app. Instagram says 100 percent of the funds raised will go toward the nonprofit of your choice.