Instagram has become the next golden goose for Facebook and the integration of new eCommerce tools looks set to take its earnings potential into a new stratosphere. At the same time, some have suggested that the additions of IGTV, Reels and shopping have all started to clutter what was once a simple app focused on photography.

Has it gone too far, or will it indeed go over the edge in 2021?

In-stream shopping

eCommerce is the big focus for Instagram, with a new Shop tab and dedicated features aligned with facilitating more immediate purchase behaviour in response to IG posts.

Instagram will look to continue the development of its shopping tools in order to further encourage habitual shopping behaviour.  We can expect the addition of advanced one-click purchasing, new AR try-on tools, building on its existing AR shopping options and video tags for products, providing more ways for businesses and creators to facilitate direct buying.

Instagram is already where many people go to discover new products and brands, and its advanced shopping options could open up a whole range of new possibilities.

Reels has its own tab too, but shopping is where Instagram will make a real impact.

Variable home feed

Speculated for a while now, but with the continued popularity of Stories we can expect Instagram to try out a new approach to user home feeds in 2021.

This could mean that the main Instagram feed might lose focus and become a secondary element. Perhaps not for everyone, instead, Instagram could try to do is to align the home feed with individual user preference with the option to switch back if you choose.

For example, if you view Stories a lot, Instagram might switch you to a Stories-first home feed, with the option to go back to the regular post feed if you want. Some users might open to a Reels feed instead, some to the Shop tab. Rather than force all users into a new feed, Instagram could look to provide options, which may help boost engagement within each element.

Reels – good enough

Then there’s Reels, Instagram’s TikTok clone. The general consensus seems to suggest that it is interesting enough, but not as good as TikTok itself.

We don’t expect Reels to become a major element – and definitely not a TikTok killer of any kind. It will likely find its own niche and remain popular in India so long as TikTok remains banned there.

That could be enough to deem Reels a success, while Instagram will also look to further boost Reels through exclusive influencer deals and new features which could help it gain more traction at different stages. The right influencer deals could definitely help Reels boost engagement and if TikTok doesn’t catch up on its revenue-sharing options, Reels will remain a competitive concern adding more pressure to the app.

It seems unlikely that Reels will become a major consideration, but ‘good enough’ is likely all Instagram needs to justify its investment in the option.