It has been a pretty lonely year for most people. Locking down, staying home, and learning how to make banana bread! Even when we’ve had the pleasure of being out and about, we’ve had to stay pretty far from each other. 

So, it’s no wonder so many of us have turned to social media to connect! Statistics taken between March and May 2020 showed a 51%increase in social media use by US adults. 

Instagram has even rolled out awesome features to try and help people connect more from the comfort of their social distancing bubbles. These include funky new stickers, Reels, IGTV, close friends lists, and even Co-Watching with Instagram video chat! 

The Instagram team is definitely taking advantage of the amped-up social media activity this year. And their video chat feature has gotten a lot more people using the platform. 

All About The Instagram Video Chat Feature

The Gram’s rendition of Facetime, Whatsapp video calls, and Snapchat has been around for quite a while now. Whispers of the feature were loudest in January 2018 but it was officially launched on June 26th, 2018. 

If you’ve used some of the other video call apps available, then you know exactly what Instagram Video Chats are. You can video call up to six people at once without leaving the Instagram app. 

Plus, a recent IG update allows media sharing on video calls (more on this later!). Instagram is doing a great job of giving users everything they need in one app and absolutely nobody can say no to such convenience!

How Do You Get It?

A great thing about video chats is that you don’t have to do anything extra to set it up. No need to have a business profile or public account like some of Instagram’s other features. All you need to do is make sure your app is updated to the latest version. 

The Instagram video chat feature can be used wherever you have your Instagram loaded – your laptop, an iPad, or a smartphone. Plus, it doesn’t exclude Android users – it’s available on both iOS and Android. 

So, if you can’t find the feature using our How-to guide , update your IG app on the iOS App Store or Google Play Store. 

To stay on top of all the app changes, you might want to automate updates in your settings… As we said, Instagram sure is on a roll and you don’t want to be left behind!

People on a video chat

How To Use Instagram Video Chat

Just for the sake of repetition, make sure your app is up to date! When you open it, you will see your general feed with all the latest posts from the accounts you follow. Resist the temptation to scroll through for hours and click on the paper plane icon on the right-hand corner of your screen. 

Your Instagram Direct messages screen will pop up with previous chats or suggested ones. You can also just swipe left to get to your Instagram Direct from your feed. 

From Instagram Direct:

  1. Click on the video camera icon. A list of suggested users will appear. 
  2. Choose people from the list that you would like to invite for the chat. If you don’t see the right users on the list, you can search for their handle or name. 
  3. Click on the user and press start in the top-right corner and that’s it!

For the nitty-gritty… There is no limit on how long the video call lasts – you can spend hours catching up with your friends and the call can be ended by simply clicking the X in the corner. The session has all the relevant features that you need as well: the mute button, video-off mode, and reverse camera mode. 

You can also minimize the video chat and browse your Instagram while you talk. You’ll still see a pop-up of the chat and your friends will still see you. Just make sure you know how to multitask and don’t get distracted by a meme or something…

The More The Merrier: Using The Group Chat

If you’re missing having pajama parties or cocktail parties with your mates, don’t sweat it. The Video Chat allows up to 6 people in a chat room. 

If you know all the people you want in the chat, you can create a thread (a group chat) and click on the video camera button in the thread. This will include everybody that’s in the group on your call. If you’ve started the call and realize that you’ve missed someone out, the ‘add’ button at the bottom of your screen allows you to add people to an ongoing video chat. 

If you’re a little late and a chat has started without you, click on the video camera to join. The icon will be blue if the chat has already started. 

So, Instagram knows you probably want to share stuff on the call. That’s why you can now share media onto the chat screen using Co-Watching. Just swipe up and select content from the posts you’ve liked. If you want some screenshots of the call to share on your Story, just click the circle at the bottom of your screen. The moment will be snapped and saved to your gallery.

If there are people who make your life not so merry, you don’t have to worry about taking their video calls. Blocked accounts cannot request a video call with you. If you don’t really want to block someone but aren’t keen to chat with them, you can mute or unfollow them. You can even go back to the basics and simply ignore their call. 

Friends being together

Get Connected 

There’s nothing better than a catch-up sesh with some friends or looking over some content you all like. Instagram has created the perfect place to do it. 

No need to save a chunk of screenshots onto your gallery to send in your direct chats or over Whatsapp. Just co-watch. Or, if you’re already on the Gram, simply follow the 3 easy steps to see your favorite people.

Video chats are just another fantastic way that Instagram is helping us stay connected when we need it most.

Adie Marais
Author

Account Manager | Contentellect - Intelligent Content Creation

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