Are you up to date on changes from Instagram? Wondering which recent Instagram updates are important to marketers and business owners?

In this article, we explore Instagram changes that affect your marketing.

Instagram Updates: Stories, Cutouts, Future Features, and More by Social Media Examiner
This article was co-created by Chelsea Peitz, Jerry Potter, and Lisa D. Jenkins. For more about Chelsea, scroll to Other Notes From This Episode at the end of this article.

Instagram Friends Story Sharing

Instagram is testing a new collaborative Stories feature that allows users to create Stories for their friends. The feature works by giving users an option when they create a Story to share it with a friend’s Story instead of their own. The user can select from a menu which friend they want to share it with and send it to them as a message. The friend can then review the Story and choose to add it to their own public Story feed. If they share it, the original creator’s username will be displayed on the Story, showing they were the one who made it.

Our Take: The new Instagram “friends stories” tool seems like an innovative way for individuals and brands to collaborate on content. User-generated content (UGC) is compelling but often challenging to obtain organically. 

This new format simplifies the process by solving brand content creation and management challenges. Now, brands can prompt fans to create branded content and easily submit it for review and potential resharing–maintaining complete control over what content gets shared under their name.

 While perhaps unusual at first glance, the idea aligns well with Instagram’s sharing and engagement focus. We expect innovative brands will find creative ways to use this tool to obtain more UGC and drive authentic connections through collaborative storytelling.

Instagram Profile Sharing via Stories

Instagram is testing the ability to share profiles with a tappable link in Instagram Stories.

Our Take: Instagram’s testing of the ability to share other users’ profiles directly through Stories seems like an intuitive innovation that improves current sharing limitations. Instagram marketing expert Chelsea Peitz notes that many of us regularly tag and mention profiles we want our followers to check out. However, the new profile preview option enables more visual storytelling around the recommendation.  

Rather than just providing a name, now you can showcase a snippet of their content and bio to provide helpful context around who the person is and why your audience should follow them. As Chelsea says, this additional visual element lets your followers immediately understand whether that profile is relevant or interesting. The larger preview format also helps the recommendation stand out more vividly than a basic tag, which could get easily lost in the shuffle of ephemeral Stories content.

This seems like a small but meaningful evolution that aligns with Instagram’s focus on relationships and community building. By making it more straightforward to spotlight and drive exposure to other creators, the feature incentivizes more authentic cross-promotion and collaboration within the app. We expect it will lead to higher engagement and follow-through on profile recommendations as the visual preview instantly conveys the value proposition. It’s a win-win for both the recommender and the showcased profile.

Instagram Story Uploads

Instagram is rolling out a feature to let you stop an Instagram Story upload.

Our Take: The ability to now cancel a Story upload mid-process seems like a small but mighty helpful update for social media managers. Many of us have experienced wanting to quickly delete or edit a post only to anxiously wait for the content to finish publishing so we can remove it and start over. This new cancellation option empowers users to seamlessly abort an in-progress Story when needed—whether fixing a typo, adding a forgotten link, or scrapping an idea altogether.   

We agree that any social media feature allowing for greater post flexibility and alteration reduces regrettable mistakes that undermine your brand or message. Social Media Marketing Talk Show host and marketing expert Jerry Potter speculates that the ability to cancel and save back to drafts would take this mistake-proofing even further. While Instagram enables you to edit sent direct messages, applying a similar time delay for Story posting would allow rapid fine-tuning in the moment rather than after the fact.

Instagram removes pressure and friction from Story creation by giving users more control over posting. This is likely to result in higher post quality and engagement, as brands and individuals can take the time to get Stories right rather than rushing them live and forever documenting potentially imperfect moments.

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#2: Instagram Cutout Stickers

Users can now create Cutout stickers from any user’s publicly posted photos with permissions enabled. If the creator of the original photo deletes it, any stickers created from that photo will also be deleted across Instagram. Users can control whether their content is available for reuse in stickers via their account settings or individual post settings. Turning off permissions means other users cannot create stickers from that content. Removing source content will also delete associated stickers.

Our Take: Instagram’s expansion of interactive custom content stickers seems like an exciting evolution that innovative brands should embrace. As Chelsea notes, these new Cutouts remind her of the creativity and personalization of old-school Snapchat, enabling users to transform friends’ photos into stickers. Just as Bitmoji took off, brands and friends can now meme-ify each other in playful ways to drive engagement.

Jerry believes that most brands should view this as a positive. Unlike third-party memes, which can mock your company, Cutout stickers rely on content the brand itself posted. So, they offer lighthearted exposure among followers who already connect with you. Avoiding or restricting them means missing out on organic buzz and fun interactions. 

Of course, some risk exists. But the same could be said for hashtags or UGC contests brands currently run. Cutout stickers will create laughs and an authentic community for brands willing to lean into Instagram’s creative, experimental ethos. The fact you can opt out provides control without limiting potential viral moments. As virtual engagement and metaverse elements trend, this feature future-proofs marketing by making experiences more embedded and immersive. We can’t wait to see the clever ways brands employ Cutouts.

#3: Future Instagram Features

Public Collections

Instagram continues to develop Public Collections, an extension of its collaborative Collections feature

Our Take: If launched, this feature would allow users to curate and share collections of content they like. These Public Collections would likely live on the profile so newcomers could better understand their interests and personality. 

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Public Collections would allow brands to showcase a more multidimensional identity beyond their core products and services, curating Instagram posts, Reels, Stories, etc, on Pinterest-style boards. For example, brands could use this to highlight their values and connections to local communities by showing their support for charities and events. 

While this curated content will help to “AI-proof” a brand as mass-produced generic content is drowned out by artificial intelligence, maintaining and updating collections will require effort, so not all brands will leverage this long-term.

Feed Post Polls

Instagram is rolling out polls for Instagram feed posts to some users. Like the polling sticker for Stories, the feature allows creators to add simple A/B style polls to captions that viewers can respond to from the Instagram app on their phones. 

Our Take: This feature will be extremely valuable for marketers. By making engagement more effortless and interactive, polls help Instagram feed posts reach more people, which is increasingly challenging on Instagram. When users vote in polls, they become more invested in the content. This taps into psychological principles of commitment and consistency.

While the poll may yield quick votes, it funnels more users into commenting and discussing, which deepens engagement. So, polls act as a gateway to spark more responses. As marketers look for creative ways to boost feed post visibility amidst algorithm changes, built-in polls remove friction from participating—making engagement seamless leads to better organic reach.

Flipside

Instagram is testing a new feature called “Instagram Flipside” that provides users with a private side to their public profiles. It would essentially create two accounts within one—a public-facing Instagram that looks like regular profiles and a second private profile where users can share content with only selected followers they specify.

Our Take: Flipside allows people to segment their audiences and share different types of content with different groups. For those who currently maintain multiple Instagram accounts for this purpose, Flipside could eliminate the need to switch between accounts. 

While details remain limited since it’s in the early stages, it appears Flipside will grant more control over privacy and enable users to show distinct sides of themselves to curated groups of followers. However, the dual-profile approach within one account may be confusing or challenging for some individual users and brands. As Instagram continues developing this, it will be interesting to see whether Flipside gains mainstream adoption or remains a niche dual-profile feature.

Instagram Notes Prompts

Instagram is testing a new “Notes Prompts” feature to spur more engagement with the recently launched Notes feature. Notes allows users to post text, images, and songs at the top of their profiles and DMs for their friends and followers to see and interact with. Some people may need help coming up with note ideas from scratch. That’s where Notes Prompts come in—these provide question starters and conversation topics to spark ideas like “What are you listening to?” and “What’s your mood?”

Our Take: The goal seems to be to encourage more authentic self-expression and interactions between users as Instagram shifts its focus beyond just viral entertainment content. By removing friction from posting notes and giving people templates and inspiration for what to share, prompts help facilitate more organic connections. Early data showed teens were quick to adopt Notes, but now more adults seem to be catching on and engaging, thanks to prompts that make participating simpler.

#4: User Experience in Europe

Privacy regulations in Europe are impacting how Meta and Instagram operate there. Now Meta will enable European users to disconnect and silo their Facebook, Instagram, Messenger, Marketplace, and Gaming accounts rather than having data flowing between them. The goal is to separate platforms and limit data sharing if people don’t want an integrated ecosystem.

Our Take: For marketers targeting European audiences, this data fragmentation means less unified consumer profiles and insights to leverage across ads, messaging, and engagement campaigns. As connections between Facebook and Messenger or Instagram loosen, advertising and measurement may become more challenging.

However, Meta will likely engineer solutions to maintain ad delivery and analytics continuity despite users dissociating their accounts. Marketers must be aware that weakening data signals could impact targeting and personalization. But major platforms are adept at evolving to meet regulatory and privacy changes. So, while disruptive in the interim, advertisers will adapt to find new strategies that maximize reach and results among European users. Consumer data may change, but innovative marketing continues.

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About the authorLisa D. Jenkins

Lisa D. Jenkins is the director of editorial at Social Media Examiner. Her expertise in social media comes from years of serving destination organizations and businesses in the travel and tourism industry.

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