Instagram has announced the launch of a new co-authoring feature called Collabs. Now instead of tagging your friend on a picture they helped shoot, you can invite them to be a collaborator and their username will appear in the post header alongside yours. The feature also applies to Reels, the app’s short-form video clone of TikTok.
It makes sense that Instagram would do this — it feels like low-hanging fruit that could have been implemented a long time ago. Anyone who has been a regular user of the app knows that people often @-mention their friends in the caption area when they helped capture a picture or video. Instagram is basically making this a native feature now.
The feature could help people grow their audiences piggybacking off more popular friends who might add them as a collaborator on a post.
Besides including a collaborator’s handle in the header, the post will also be shared across both users’ feeds and follower timelines. Both users will see views, likes, and comments in their notifications. You’re really just syndicating to two separate accounts.
Use cases — You might not want to use Collabs all the time. Maybe someone invites you as a collaborator on a picture but you don’t really think it’s good enough to appear on your profile. You can only invite one person to be a collaborator, so standard tagging probably makes more sense for group photos.
But it can be nice to receive credit when you help produce an Instagram-worthy moment with a friend. And it’s a shared moment, after all, so both parties should be able to preserve it on their timelines if they’d like. There’s no awkwardness of asking if you can share the same image, which can make you seem like a social media-obsessed dweeb. Instead, if your friend shares a photo you took, you can just ask them to add you as a collaborator on a post that will be shown across both profiles.
Collaborations more generally are a common way in the social media world for creators to help each other build their respective audiences. If your friends are more popular, it can be helpful for them to add you as a collaborator and give you that boost of exposure to their followers.