Did you know that Instagram has reached a whopping 1 billion monthly active users? Crazy, right?
Not only is Instagram popular for sharing photos with friends, but it’s also a goldmine for digital marketing and business branding.
That said, this famous social networking platform made several exciting changes over the past year. Let’s get into what you need to know about these new Instagram features.
In case you didn’t realize, videos are trending everywhere on social media. Typically speaking, they garner more engagement than photos, and it’s a trend that doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.
Instagram currently allows users to upload 60-second video posts. Like photos, you can add filters, write captions, and tag your location before sharing.
Your videos play immediately when people start scrolling through your feed. That means your first 1-5 seconds are essential for capturing someone’s attention.
Live Video is Instagram’s “direct” and “live” feature. If the idea of ‘going live’ in front of your audience fills you with anxiety, you’re not alone. However, this is a fantastic way to connect with your customers organically.
First, your followers receive push notifications indicating that you’re going live. They can then comment, like, and message you in real time.
Like other “live video” platforms, the video disappears after you end it. That means you have one take and one try to leave your impact.
If you’re looking to build transparency within your brand, it’s a great way to connect with current and new customers. Additionally, live videos are excellent for:
- hosting contests and giveaways
- showing off exclusive behind-the-scenes action
- uploading how-to demonstrations
- live-streaming special events
You can also consider experimenting with Instagram Live with friends. This refers to being on camera with another guest. If you’re promoting or involving another brand, this is a wonderful way to do it.
Instagram TV refers to the feature within Instagram that allows users to upload longer videos. Currently, you can upload up to an hour’s worth of content.
This is great if you want to discuss a particular topic in length. It’s also fantastic for interviewing people, showcasing products or services, or simply providing education to your audience.
Stories refer to brief video clips that stay active for 24 hours before vanishing. Users can view stories as many times as they’d like within that window. They appear as small circles at the top of your feed.
Stories provide several unique features, including:
- direct messaging within the stories
- unlimited story additions and edits
- image viewing time up to 10 seconds
- video recording up to 15 seconds
- ability to track views
- create polls and questions
You can customize your stories to hide it from specific feeds. You can also customize whether or not people can reply to your story via direct message.
Making the Most out of Instagram Stories
Instagram stories are a fun and interactive way for businesses to interact with their consumers. While there isn’t an optimal strategy for posting content, start out with sharing a few times a week.
When it comes to stories, getting creative is best! Today, more and more consumers want to know the humans behind the company name. That means you can get away with sharing unpolished, authentic content.
Keep track of your Instagram Stories algorithm to determine which content your audience most appreciates.
With shoppable tags, you can tag your products or services in your stories. For example, if you sell homemade candy and you post a photo of it, you can direct people right to your website.
This is an excellent way to demonstrate your products (for free). Similarly, others can share your items in their stories and provide a tag to your product.
Stories Polls and Questions
Want to know your audience’s opinion on a particular topic? Interested in seeing if they prefer a pink item or a yellow one? Now you can ask them directly in your stories!
The new stickers allow you to ask any questions and see results from your followers as they respond or vote.
These features can be a game-changer for digital marketers. For one, you can use them to entertain and interact with your customers. For two, however, you can also use them as a means of brainstorming and crowdsourcing marketing ideas.
Instagram Stories Highlights
As mentioned, Instagram Stories only stay live for 24 hours. However, you can activate them as ‘highlights’ to feature on your feed.
If you’re launching a new product or service, saving it as a highlight will guarantee everyone will be able to view it, without the 24-hour pressure!
Your bio is one of the most essential features on Instagram. You have very limited real estate to make a lasting impression.
In early 2018, Instagram began allowing users to turn profile usernames and hashtags into clickable links.
Simply include the “#” or “@” sign in your bio, and it will automatically become a link. This is a great way for improving your branding, especially if you rely on hashtags for marketing.
Of course, nobody knows the precise formula behind Instagram’s top-secret algorithm.
That said, Instagram appears to want its users to be able to see more posts from people they care about as opposed to spam or ads.
But don’t worry if you’re trying to promote your brand. Research shows that up to 80% of Instagram users like to connect and follow their favorite brands.
In general, your engagement matters. If people regularly comment and like your posts, your content is likely to be at the top of their feed.
Instagram doesn’t work by chronological order. That means you need to focus on your engagement and the time you post your content. Additionally, you should also be focusing on engaging back with your customers.
Inauthentic Activity Crackdowns
Instagram recently announced their firm approach to inauthentic activity.
As Instagram continues to grow in popularity, spam and inauthentic marketing also grow with it. However, Instagram is now reporting that they will automatically remove any fake likes, followers, or comments from your account.
Upon detecting inauthentic behavior, they will send you a message letting you know they have removed it. Finally, they will have you secure your account and change your password.
In other words, steer clear of bots and other shady marketing practices. It’s better to accrue slower, steadier growth than experience a crash and burn.
Turn Posts into Ads
Businesses can now transform their posts into paid ads in Instagram’s ad manager section. As a rule of thumb, you should focus on your highest-quality posts. They should be the ones with the most likes and comments.
Like with any Instagram ads, you can only do this if you have an Instagram business account. Make sure that you set your profile to public.
From there, you only need to tap on the post you want to promote. Complete the required details indicating what you want to achieve with the ad.
Instagram currently offers a variety of ad options. You can post ads in your photos, videos, carousels, and stories. Each of them integrates into your audience’s feeds to provide a relatively seamless experience.
Identifying Your Audience
You must determine who you want to target with your ad. You’ll want to pay attention to the ‘audience size’ chart. This feature shows you if you’re being too broad or narrow in your audience limitations.
Like with most marketing tactics, you’ll need to experiment with different audiences. You can accomplish this by choosing the ‘create multiple ad sets’ at the top of the screen.
Choose Your Budget
You’ll need to decide how much you want to spend on your promotion and how long you want to run it.
Instagram allows you to select a daily budget (which provides a maximum spend each day) or a lifetime budget with a pre-fixed lifespan.
You can also choose if you want the ad to stream during certain times of the day or if you want it to run continuously. You’ll need to consider the cost-per-click on your Instagram.
Again, this can be a trial-and-error process, so you must be willing to learn from your mistakes!
Final Thoughts on New Instagram Features
The new Instagram features make it easier than ever for businesses to market their services and products.
As Instagram continues to evolve, we anticipate that newer and better changes will be on the horizon.
Interested in learning more about optimizing your digital marketing strategy? Be sure to check out our expert consulting services today.