New year, new Instagram updates. Instagram never ceases to amaze us with its constant tweaks and upgrades, positioning itself as more than just a photo-sharing social media platform. Over the years, it has become a powerhouse tool for businesses and creators to tap into their target audience and increase engagement rates, with the potential to reach over 1 billion users. 

While most of the world is still grappling with the ongoing effects of the pandemic, it’s refreshing to see Instagram developing new features and functionalities that can help businesses of any size during these tough economic times. With improvements coming out almost every week, it can be tough to keep up with what’s new. To help you stay in the know with Instagram’s latest update, The Hive has put together a comprehensive list of features and enhancements all marketers should be aware of in 2021. 

Professional Dashboard

2021 started with a bang for Instagram. In January, they announced one of the most valuable features we’ve seen so far – the Professional Dashboard. This tool, available for Business and Creator Accounts, has three key features aimed at helping people turn their passions into a living and supporting small businesses. The three features are:

  • Track Your Performance – based on your account’s performance, you can discover insights and trends.
  • Grow Your Business – access a plethora of tools to help build and run your business more efficiently as well as check monetization status and eligibility.  
  • Stay Informed – provides curated resources like tips, tricks, and inspiration to help you make the most of your time on Instagram.

Instagram’s latest update for small businesses and creators is a strong and promising beginning for 2021 and we expect more resources to be added to the Professional Dashboard in the coming months. 

Reels and Shopping

Reels launched in the US back in August 2020. Instagram Reels are short, 30-second videos set to music that users can share to their Story, Explore Feed, and the new Reels tab on a user’s profile. Towards the last half of 2020, we saw our home screens rearranged, with the Reels tab now front and center of the lower menu bar. Another new Instagram Reel feature we’re excited about? Shopping is now available on Reels. Businesses and creators can now tag their products when they create a Reel, known as an Instagram product tag. You will see this as a “View Products” button, where you can then buy, save, or learn more about the product, linking directly to your website. Instagram product tags can also be promoted as ads as well. Lastly, to improve transparency, creators can now add a “branded content” tag to their Reels to show they are being paid to promote the products in the video. 

Not only can you buy directly from Stories, Reels, Posts, and IGTV, but you can also buy from Instagram Live now (US). Back in March, when the pandemic first forced many people inside, Instagram Live viewership rose by 70%! To capitalize on this, Instagram now allows businesses and creators to add up to 30 products from their collection on a live stream. 

Video media is now dominant in today’s world, so utilizing all these functionalities within Reels and Live is a powerful opportunity for business owners and creators to connect with their audience and convert them into customers. 


In late 2020, Instagram rolled out Guides, a feature that popped up on select accounts. As of November 17th, 2020, Instagram announced this feature would be available to all users. This functionality allows users to create article-like posts filled with curated Instagram posts and videos, products or photos, headlines, tips, and tricks. Each Guide can then be shared in Stories of a Direct Message. The Guide tab lives on a user’s profile, between the IGTV tab and their Products tab. Guides can be a great tool to promote your product or teach your audience how to do something.

Keyword Search

Probably the most exciting update for marketers, Instagram subtly announced the keyword search option back in November. Previously, users had the option to search hashtags, locations, and accounts only. Now, if you’d like to search for a quarantine favorite, like the “banana bread recipe”, you can search keywords and keyphrases and get results from actual banana bread recipe posts, even if they don’t contain the #bananabreadrecipe hashtag. This new update mirrors how Google works and could potentially become a new way people use search on mobile. 

Instagram for small businesses and creators can be confusing with the constant updates and enhancements that seem to come out weekly. But when you partner with The Hive, we are here for you! Whether you need help with social media engagement, email marketing, or building a beautiful website, know you can turn to our experts. Connect with our team today to get started on a project.