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illustration of a blog post: Instagram’s Newest Update & What This Means for Your Paid Ads
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Paid Media 9 min read

Instagram’s Newest Update & What This Means for Your Paid Ads

Carolyn Noel photo

Written by Carolyn Noel

Communications Coordinator @ Galactic Fed

Dallin Porter photo

Expert reviewed by Dallin Porter

Marketing Director @ Galactic Fed

Published 27 Jul 2022

As a business owner, you have a million and one things to worry about. And while social media and paid advertising are important, they might not be your number one priority. 

So you probably have the basics of Instagram down, you’re seeing some good results from ads, and you’re in a groove of having a social media strategy that works for you. 

But then… an update. And now everything you thought you finally understood about Instagram and social media in general changes. 

Confused man gif

But we promise it doesn’t have to be complicated or overwhelming! Despite the ever-growing list of changes platforms like Instagram and Facebook continue to roll out, we’re here to help. 

Today we’re going to dive into Instagram’s newest update and what this means for your brand and your paid ads. 

History of Instagram 

Let’s start with the basics. 

Instagram is a photo and video-sharing social network founded in 2010 by Kevin Systrom and Mike Krieger. 

When Instagram was first launched, the platform was photos only. Video sharing didn’t become a part of Instagram until 2013. There were no Instagram stories, reels, or any of the complex features the app has today until many years later. 

In 2010, all photos posted on Instagram had to have a square crop. This has since changed, but otherwise the layout is still pretty much the same as it always has been. Users were able to edit their pictures with filters, add location tags, and use hashtags. 

You would scroll through photos on the app in the same way you do today, with the poster’s name on top and comments below. 

Old instagram feed

Source: Wired 

Instagram was bought by Facebook in 2012. In November 2013, the app offered its first version of paid advertising. Once very basic, Instagram ads have now grown to feature in-feed ads, stories ads, carousel ads, video ads, and more

Instagram advertisements

Source: Key Media Solutions 

The app now has over 500 million daily users and continues to grow. 

The Newest Instagram Update 

With that covered, let’s move on to unpacking the latest Instagram update

Instagram is now testing a full-screen format for its main feed, which expands all Instagram posts (images, Reels, videos) into a 9:16 aspect ratio. 

Instagram story of zuck

Source: Mark Zuckerberg’s Instagram 

This new approach would move the Stories bar out of view and, through a longer-term approach, Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg said that Stories would be incorporated into a frame count bar along the bottom of the screen where users would be encouraged to swipe across for more. 

The update emphasizes Instagram’s big push to adapt to short-form video content and encourage users to post more videos and Reels rather than standard photos. 

Since launching in 2020, Reels has been Instagram’s fastest growing content option. 20% of all time on Instagram is now spent in the Reels feed.

For those familiar with the social media app TikTok, this new Instagram display may look eerily similar. 

Head of Instagram Adam Mosseri has said that TikTok is one of their biggest competitors. It’s clear that Instagram is now taking massive steps to reclaim their spot as the top social media app and leave TikTok in the dust. 

As of June 2022, this new update isn’t available to all users yet. More people will begin to see the roll-out soon. 

What is TikTok? 

So, now, you may be asking yourself what is TikTok? And why is it such a big competitor for Instagram that is has them completely changing their design? 

TikTok is a short-form, video-sharing app. The app was launched in 2016 by the Chinese technology company ByteDance. Originally, TikTok content had a timelimit of 15 seconds. Now, videos can be up to 10 minutes long. 

TikTok offers users a wide variety of sounds and songs to use in their videos, along with special effects and filters. Users can shoot videos directly on the app or upload and edit videos taken on their phones. 

Tiktok feed

Source: Later 

TikTok is extremely popular among Gen-Z, with 60% of its users being between the ages of 16 to 24. 

There are a variety of videos ranging from dance videos, reaction videos, challenges, daily vlogs, clothing hauls, makeup tutorials, and more on the app. Even A List celebrities have joined TikTok and started posting their own videos! 

Tiktok videos

Source: WalktheChat 

TikTok had over 850 million downloads in 2020 alone and that number only continues to increase. 

What Does This Update Mean for You? 

Most notably, this big shift emphasizes Instagram’s desire to become more like TikTok and win Gen-Z’s loyalty back. Focusing on video and Reels content over standard photos means that your social media content will have to change to meet this demand. 

As a business owner, try to focus on creating an abundance of video content and Reels in the coming months. 

With this new roll-out, one of the biggest issues seen so far is that Instagram photos are originally not uploaded in full screen dimensions. In order to make uploaded photos meet these new dimensions, Instagram will likely have to crop off the sides of the photos or stretch photos which could result in a loss of detail and cause blurriness

At the time, the roll-out also cuts off stories completely from the homepage. As Zuckerberg has said, Instagram plans to place stories along the bottom of the screen instead, but it’s unclear when this update would occur. 

For now, many businesses using Stories for paid ads may see a loss of engagement and revenue with them if they are no longer featured at the top of users’ feeds. 

According to TechCrunch, another issue with the earlier test of this update was that the feed included an “odd white space in between posts.” This made the feed “appear to be something of a cross between TikTok’s true full-screen feed and a more traditional, card-style feed where posts were separated.” 

Users also said this made their feed seem more cluttered as a result.  

What Should You Do Next? 

With the latest update not rolled out to all Instagram users yet, the only option is to wait and see what it’s like, give feedback to Instagram along the way, and hope that they take it. 

Woman arguing gif

And, so far, the reaction to this update and Instagram’s big push to video content isn’t being well received by everyone. Over the past few weeks, the update has become the center of memes and even celebrities have chimed in to show their support for keeping Instagram a photo-sharing app. 

Instagram story wanting instagram back

Source: Complex

If your feed doesn’t look any different, take this time to prepare for it. If you’ve never created an Instagram Reels before, we recommend checking out this video to help you get started. 


There are also extremely helpful resources on creating paid advertisement videos on Instagram if that’s something you’ve never tackled before. We recommend this one. 

You can also use this time to reevaluate your current paid advertising plan. Now that you know that a majority of TikTok users are Gen-Z and Instagram is hoping to win them over, are these the best apps for you to be advertising on? Who is your target audience? What are their ages? Dive deeper into understanding your brand’s buyer persona

Maybe you’re a B2B brand that has been seeing little progress with Instagram ads. You may consider switching to LinkedIn ads to target business leaders head-on. 

Maybe you’re a B2C brand with a product targeted directly toward people 30 and up. You may be looking to advertise more on Facebook where about 30% of their total ad audience ages 24 to 34. 

Take this time to figure out what works for you and how to make the best of your paid advertising strategy moving forward. 

And to stay up to date on all of the latest Instagram updates (because, trust us, things are always changing!) Hootsuite has created a rolling list

If it all feels like too much to keep track of, we understand that too. That’s why our team of paid media experts is here to help you navigate Instagram’s newest updates, create stellar ads and keep your content always one step ahead of your competitors

Schedule a free 30-minute consultation today!

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Carolyn Noel photo

Carolyn Noel

Communications Coordinator @ Galactic Fed