Social media is a huge driving force in society today — it’s no wonder these companies are constantly evolving and looking to improve their in-app experiences. If you’ve been on Instagram for the last five to 10 years, it’s likely you’ve witnessed countless updates, changes in the interface and added features with the promise of better content, deeper connections and ease of use.
Although these changes can be puzzling at first, if you create content or market your business on social media you should embrace them quickly and use them to your advantage. It’s no secret that Instagram is one of the top apps in the world today, so staying ahead on the platform and adapting your strategy to the new additions ensures your content marketing success.
This article provides insight into a few of the relatively new Instagram tools. Additionally, you’ll discover why it all matters and how to utilize a combination of these features for maximum success in your social media marketing strategy.
What Is Instagram?
First, let’s dive into what Instagram is and its unique and powerful position in the social media world. According to the social networking platform itself, Instagram is “a free photo and video sharing app available on iPhone and Android. People can upload photos or videos to our service and share them with their followers or with a select group of friends. They can also view, comment and like posts shared by their friends on Instagram.”
According to Hootsuite, Instagram is the fourth most used social platform after Facebook, YouTube and Whatsapp. It rakes in 1.22 billion active users per month and 59% of U.S. adults daily. With numbers as astounding as these, it’s a no-brainer that brands take to Instagram as a way of marketing and growing their business. Here are some more impressive statistics from Hootsuite regarding brands on Instagram:
- 58% of users say they’re more interested in a brand after seeing it in a story
Stories have sticking power! Another 50% of Instagram users say they’ve visited a website to make a purchase of a product or service after seeing it in a story.
- 90% of Instagram users follow at least one business
Don’t feel shy about getting your brand involved in social: everybody’s doing it! As Instagram itself puts it, it’s a place to “grow your community and deepen your connection with current and future customers.” Insta regularly introduces new business tools — like shopping functionality and Instagram Live — to help support businesses, as well.
- 1 in 2 people have used Instagram to discover new brands
It’s an incredible discovery tool: 50% of people use it to discover new brands, products or services. And 2 in 3 people say the network helps foster meaningful interactions with brands.
- 57% of people like seeing polls and quizzes from brands on Instagram
Compared to other platforms, audiences prefer seeing quizzes and polls from brands on Instagram, so go ahead and speak up: ask your customers what they want! These can be easily implemented using Stories.
Instagram only introduced its shopping feature a couple of years ago, but it’s already taken the e-commerce world by storm. According to an Instagram for Business survey, 44% of people use Instagram weekly to shop using features like shopping tags and the Shop tag.
- Instagram’s advertising reach has outpaced Facebook this past year
If paid reach is part of your social media strategy, it’s worth noting that Instagram’s ad reach is skyrocketing past Facebook’s right now. Facebook’s global advertising reach only increased by 6.5% this year, while Instagram’s grew by 20.5%.
Four Notable Instagram Tools
Aside from feed posts of photos and videos, Instagram has implemented features that take user experiences to the next level and foster connectedness. Although there are many features that can be used to your advantage, here we cover story highlights and stickers, Instagram lives, new reels features and a collaborator tool. The app offers so many channels for marketing your business, it may take some time to research and find through trial and error what combination of the many offerings on Instagram fit your brand and audience best. It’s clear though that utilizing a combination of multiple features and adhering to a consistent posting schedule will assist your business in its Instagram growth tremendously.
- Story Stickers
Instagram stories have been around for years now but have grown to be a
popular tool with new innovations since it was first introduced. If you’re not familiar with stories, users can choose to post a temporary photo or video to the top of the app above the main feed on the app’s homepage. These photos last for 24 hours, but if a user would like to make a Story post permanent, they have the option to add it to a Highlight, which can be found on the individual’s profile page below their bio.
Businesses can use stories to their advantage in several ways. Content that is visually appealing and branded is generally made permanent on your feed, whereas Stories can be a way of garnering more engagement from your audience, showing your brand personality and gaining feedback from your followers, customers and potential customers. According to Influencer Marketing Hub, this is useful for your content marketing because you can create stories with “promotions, information about your business or that showcase specific products or events. Stories with quizzes are also great to educate followers about your brand and gather information about their preferences.” Also, it’s important to “remember to save your best performing stories as well, so that you can continue to drive people to see them and preferably take the action you want them to take.”
Stories have a Sticker feature which allows you to add the polls, quizzes, prompts or even links and more to encourage interaction and personify your brand. HubSpot says: “Due to its shareability, it’s known to kickstart trends and challenges. But for marketers, it’s especially useful for sparking conversations and showcasing your brand’s creative side.” Get creative, explore the features and see what brands in your industry are doing with stories and stickers. The ability to add links to your story is useful because live links aren’t offered in feed posts, so now users can easily be directed to outside websites. If you’re just getting started with Instagram’s story feature, Three Girls’ Marketing and PR Specialist Naomi Shapiro wrote a practical guide for using it in your marketing efforts. With the knowledge she provides, you’ll be comfortable exploring the sticker tools in no time!
- Instagram Live Features
One extremely useful Instagram feature is the ability to go live. Instagram Live has been implemented for several years, but one new addition helps pull in a larger audience. Instagram Live allows you to broadcast to an audience in real time, for anything from answering questions, talking about your business, promoting products or services and more! Instagram users can join and engage with likes or comments. The newest addition to Instagram lives is the ability to schedule the broadcast on your profile for better visibility. Embed Social explains, “profiles will get a badge with the information of the scheduled live. Plus, their followers will be able to opt in to get a notification the moment the Live is available.” This feature is a small one, but effective! With so many brands and creators on Instagram competing for the time and attention of their audiences, this addition to Lives helps users find your virtual event quickly and easily.
- New Reels Features
Reels were implemented more recently than stories and lives, but Instagram continues to expand this tool and prioritize its content in the algorithm. Since video content, especially reels, are favored in the algorithm, your Instagram marketing strategy will want to include these. According to LaterBlog, reels are short-form vertical videos that can be up to 60 seconds long. Creators are able to stitch together video clips and photos and post it to reels, stories or their feed. In a recent post, Head Of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, took to reels to announce that the app is “exploring ways to help creators monetize their reels.” The reason for prioritizing video content in the Instagram algorithm is to drive the community on the app while being entertaining and offering support to creators. Not only is video content on Instagram a good decision, but video content in your overall marketing strategy is extremely beneficial! Instagram will allow you to explore new styles and types of video content, whether you recycle old clips or start new. If you decide that you want to recycle some content or if a video does especially well in terms of engagement, you will have the option to turn your Instagram stories into a reel. Another cool feature is that you can share reels from Instagram to Facebook now. This will expand your reach tremendously!
- Collaborator Tool For Feed
The last Instagram tool we’ll discuss is the collaborator tool that has been added to the main feed of the app. Before this feature was implemented, the only way to indicate collaboration was with tags, where users can link an image to the profile page of the co-collaborator. Now, one member involved in the collaboration can post content and make co-authors on the content. If desired, the other person has the option to share the feed photo to their own. This permanent feed photo is now shared and each co-author gets the exposure of the other’s audience, likes and comments. Why is this important? This tool is useful for businesses who utilize influencer marketing, brand partnerships, giveaways and other collaborations. If you want insight for how exactly to use this Instagram feature for both feed posts and reels, Social Media Examiner provides a practical guide for getting started.
Why Does Social Media Marketing Matter?
Aside from the sheer exposure that Instagram offers, social media in general has
completely transformed how businesses can market themselves to large audiences. Additionally, social media has transformed the relationships consumers have with brands.
Three Girls Media wrote about the benefits of using social networking platforms for business in a recent article. One reason brands should make social media a priority is due to the opportunities it provides to interact with customers and fans directly and vice versa. Features such as stories and lives provide several ways to connect with your audience and expand your brand’s customer service, overall identity and experience with your Instagram marketing strategy. Liking and commenting on photos is one way to interact, but stories and lives take it to the next level, and people want to participate. It is incredibly powerful for brands to make these connections, not only to increase their revenue, but to create the authentic relationships that build customer loyalty — something that benefits both parties.
The Three Girls blog post goes on to explain another important reason to market your business on social media, which is the access to networking opportunities, partnerships and influencers — all things that “earn a lot of value for your brand.” Furthermore, social media has increased accessibility to public figures, large corporations and celebrities. These relationships build credibility and foster trust from other users’ networks, stretch the amount of potential business opportunities and more. Instagram’s many features are highly convenient and advantageous for these purposes!
As we briefly mentioned before, Instagram and other social media platforms allow your audience to relate to your brand personality easier than ever before. According to Three Girls Media, “to build trust with your audience and create long-term loyal customers, it’s imperative you show them your brand keeps its promises and upholds its values. Here are some questions you should ask yourself:
- How are you embracing your brand values?
- How are you looking out for the best interests of your customers and employees?
- Does your product really work?
- Is your brand involved with your community?
- Does your company give back?
You can answer these questions for your audience by posting photos, reviews and quotes to your social media pages. Share testimonials from happy customers and let them see how you’re giving back to your community and supporting other local organizations.
These messages will not only build trust but will also show your audience there are people behind the brand they can connect with. This connection with the human side of your brand further solidifies the relationship you have established.” With the Instagram marketing tools mentioned above, your brand should have everything it needs to try to foster these relationships with your customers.
In another Three Girls blog post, Marketing and PR Specialist Lee Baggesen-Jensen discusses the importance of adding videos to your digital marketing. With Instagram’s many video features and options such as reels, feed videos, stories and lives, the opportunity to lean into that type of content is plentiful and highly encouraged. Nowadays, consumers are beginning to prefer video content through the internet as opposed to other channels. This is exciting because businesses can easily create content on free platforms like Instagram, reach a wide audience and foster a relationship with viewers. In the same article, Lee shares some stellar ideas to help you “incorporate authentic video content into your digital marketing strategy.” He mentions conducting interviews, sharing details about your company and encouraging customer and influencer collaboration. Trying any of these ideas could result in tons of usable content.
Aside from providing valuable and interesting content to your audience, you also can easily get multiple posts from one interaction. For example, if you conduct an interview with a public figure or industry leader, a one-hour-long recording could be broken up into many shorter clips and be added to your posting schedule. Same with sharing details about your company, its culture and its team members! There are so many insights that you can give your audience.
Get Creative With The Instagram Features
Video content on social media has grown to be the most effective form of posts and Instagram’s changes reflect that as well as support marketing efforts for its users. Consider your social media strategy and goals, as well as the many Instagram features offered to creators. From there you can create your most successful plan for growing your brand and connecting with your audience. If you don’t already take advantage of the tools mentioned in this article, taking the time to explore them and get inspiration for your future content will help you accomplish your goals!
Need Help Creating A Social Media Marketing Strategy For Your Business?
Creating a social media marketing strategy can be difficult. If you’d like help, Three Girls Media is here for you. Contact us today for a complimentary 30-minute consultation to see what we can do for your business. Our team of experienced marketers is here to help you take your business’s social media marketing to the next level.
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