Here’s What You Need To Know About Instagram’s New Features

Another day, another new Instagram feature – but this one, unlike the still disliked algorithm change, is actually super helpful. This week, Instagram launched some new story features that will not only improve your experience on the app as a whole, but will also take you one step closer away from Snapchat (more on that in a minute). So what are the new Instagram features that are going to make things so much better? Allow us to explain.

The latest update to Instagram will change the way you’re viewing Instagram stories, giving you more access to public stories and also allowing your own stories to become more visible to others (which could increase your followers!). The app’s new location and hashtag Explore stories began rolling out to users on May 23rd and are obviously already getting a lot of attention. Here’s the breakdown:

Story Locations

This new feature allows you to check out stories of people you don’t follow in a location near you, or the location of your choice. Local location stories will pop up in your Explore page, showing you stories from nearby spots – it is basically just like Snapchat’s location stories (hmmm…). So, if you’re located in New York City, you’ll see Instagram Stories from New York City or maybe Long Island. It’s a cool way to connect with new people or to see what others are doing in a place near you. It’s also great for traveling – if you’re in a new spot and have no idea what you’re doing, you can use these local stories to get an insider’s look. See my New York story at the top in the image below?

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Another component of this feature is the location tagging aspect. When you location tag a story (you know how you can add your location to anything you upload in a story), it automatically becomes available on individual location pages for others to watch (if your page is public, of course). When you click on a location page, like, for example, Los Angeles, you’ll see at the top a “watch story” option, which complies the recent stories of anyone who has used the Los Angeles tag recently. To get there, go to Search, then click Locations and search within that. It’s a really cool way to check out a city you’re traveling to for information and, again, an insider’s view at what locals do there.

And, of course, you don’t only have to search cities – you can also search specific places, like a restaurant or a tourist spot. This allows you to check the spot in a more intimate way than just reading TripAdvisor or something like that. And it’s just fun to look at, even if you’re not on vacation! Check it out at the top of this image:

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Story Hashtags 

Similar to the location feature, hashtags will now connect your public stories to everyone else using Instagram. You can add hashtags to your stories, and they’ll become searchable. So, say you hashtag #beachdays. Anyone who searches #beachdays will be able to see your story instead of just pictures hashtagged #beachdays. Well, not just your story, but a collection of stories using the #beachdays hashtag. See it at the top?

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Not only is this update a really cool way to find new users to follow, find new places to go, and take up time whenever you’re bored, but it’s also a fun way for you to get your profile out there. If you hashtag or turn on locations, and you go public, others will be able to see what you’re doing, and who knows? That could lead them to your amazing Instagram page and cause them to hit the follow button.

Of course, this is also one more way for Instagram to take over Snapchat, as the app features the same location feature. I almost feel a little bit bad for old Snap, don’t you?

Are you going to try out this new feature? Do you think it’s cool or is it trying too hard? Tell us in the comments!

You can follow the author, Jessica Booth, on Twitter or Instagram.

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