Instagram has exploded over the last 2 years, doubling its user base to now boast over 600 million monthly active users, whilst adding a number of changes to the functionality of the platform, widening its appeal to people of all ages and interests.
If you aren’t an avid Instagram fiend or simply haven’t got time to keep up with every little change in the ever evolving Social Media world, then you may be wondering how all of these changes affect you and your business.
So, we have compiled an article covering some of the most significant changes we have seen on Instagram in recent times, as well as some next level tips, and more importantly, how you can leverage them to better market your business on the platform in 2017.
Mid 2016 saw Instagram announce the long awaited (and overdue) changes to the functionality of Instagram accounts used by businesses. The new, free, Instagram Business profiles allow businesses to add a contact button which allows users to get in touch by either phone, text or email as well as getting directions. Business profiles also unlock access to insights and the ability to run adverts.
Tip : If you haven’t already, convert your Instagram account to a Business profile by hitting the to open up options from your profile. Scroll down to “Switch to Business Profile” and follow the steps to set up. You should now have a business profile and access to Insights.
One of the main features of the new Instagram business profiles is the ‘Insights’ feature. Insights gives you data on the reach and impressions of your content, how many people viewed your profile, how many people clicked the link in your bio, and demographic information on your followers (as long as you have 100+). This means businesses and brands now have much more information at their disposal to understand how successful their Instagram strategy is. To access Insights, go to your Business profile and click the icon in the top right hand corner.
Tip : Use the “Followers” information in Insights to get vital demographic information about your audience. You can then use this demographic information to tailor your content towards your audience.
Like any Social Media platform, the bio is the prime real-estate where you get to talk about your brand. The difference on Instagram is that the platform has a much less formal nature than, say, Twitter or LinkedIn. This allows you, as a business, to show of the personality of your brand in a light hearted way. This can be achieved using a number of techniques, including the use of emojis, #Hashtags, quirky quotes etc. For the full lowdown on writing a killer bio why not check out this article from Sprout Social?
Tip : Use relevant emojis at the start of each line of your bio as bullet points to make your bio into a list of information you want to share about your brand. This not only breaks up the information visually into bitesize chunks, but also looks quite cool! Check out the Viral Effect Learning bio here. (If you are not viewing Instagram on a mobile device, your bio will not be in list format, but in a regular paragraph style)
Instagram’s parent company, Facebook, offers phenomenal targeting options for paid advertising, from pinpointing adverts to only show to certain postcodes, targeting those in a certain income bracket or showing ads to expectant mothers, the possibilities are endless. How is this relevant to Instagram? Well, by linking your business Facebook Page to your Instagram profile, you will be able to place adverts on Instagram that link back to your Instagram profile, using Facebook Ad targeting options. This means businesses can develop highly sophisticated advertising strategies, placing adverts in front of users on multiple platforms and devices.
Tip : To link your Facebook page and Instagram account together, go to your profile and click the to open up the options menu. Scroll to “Linked Accounts”, select Facebook and go through the steps of linking your business page.
Instagram introduced us to the new ‘Stories’ feature in late summer 2016, which lends heavily from functionality already available on Snapchat. Stories allows users to share multiple images, video clips and Boomerangs that disappear after 24 hours, and can be viewed in sequence by your followers from the top of their home feed. Much like Snapchat, Instagram stories tend to be used to share little snippets of content. From a business perspective, Stories can be used to share behind the scenes posts, video clips of your products in action, any other more casual style of content that wouldn’t necessarily fit in with your regular posting style.
Tip : Use Instagram Stories to show off the personality of your brand by posting what your staff get up to in the office, allow different staff to curate your stories and put their own stamp on the content.
Facebook Live has taken the social media world by storm since it’s launch in the first half of 2016, with consumers and brands both sharing live video streams, direct from their smartphones. Facebook has now also rolled out (in December 2016) Live streaming on the Instagram platform. Live streams from people you follow appear at the very top of the ‘Home’ screen alongside regular ‘Stories’, but are differentiated by a ‘Live’ sticker. Where Instagram Live differs from Facebook though, comes once you stop streaming. On Facebook, once you finish a Live stream, the video will stay on your profile / page to be viewed again at a later date. On Instagram, once the stream has finished, the video disappears forever. This will give users who see the little Live icon at the top of their feed serious FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out!), encouraging them to engage with Live streams on Instagram as they happen.
Tip : Instagram Live gives brands a chance to engage directly, in real time, with their audience. Use Instagram Live to host regular Q&A sessions. Advertise the event through Instagram ahead of time, and ask users to submit questions both before the broadcast begins, as well as during the broadcast in the comments section. Encouraging questions during the broadcast will ensure your audience is engaged and also steer the content into topics your audience is interested in.
If you are just using Instagram to share photos of your lunch, your dog, or selfies with your friends, then you are not going to be overly concerned with which #Hashtags you use when you post your content. If you are using Instagram for your business, #Hashtags are absolutely vital to the success of your efforts on the platform. Using the right #Hashtags alongside the right content is the most powerful way of reaching a much, much wider (worldwide!) audience. #Hashtags index your content and become searchable using the Instagram search features, meaning someone on the other side of the world is able to discover the photos you share by performing a simple search. Pretty powerful, right?
Performing a #Hashtag search by hitting the magnifying glass icon and typing your #hashtag in the search box will show you a feed of posts that all use the #hashtag you have searched for. Above the ‘Top Posts’ section, you will see ‘Related’. These related #hashtags are the most popular tags used alongside the original tag you searched for. This is a great way to research additional #hashtags to use alongside your regular ones.
Tip : A load of #hashtags after every post can look quite messy in the Instagram feed, and can also take the user’s’ attention away from the all important caption, which can be used to add context to your post. So whether you are just a neat freak, or want your caption to carry a heavier punch, use the following to make your posts more aesthetically pleasing without losing any of the vital #hashtag functionality: When you post to Instagram, go through all the usual steps of sharing a post WITHOUT adding any #hashtags. Share the post, and once it is live, comment on the post adding in all of the relevant #hashtags to the post. The #hashtags still work as if they are in your caption, but will no longer be visually cluttering up your audiences feed!
Ever stumbled upon a great post in the Discover feed, had a quick look then moved on to the next task in your busy life….before spending ages later that day trying to find the post again for another look? Wouldn’t it be useful if there was some way of saving Instagram posts or sharing with your colleagues, whether it’s some inspiration for a post of your own, a post by one of your competitors, an influencer you have identified or just a great post?
Well now there is! You can ‘Save’ posts to your own profile to view again later, or ‘Send’ posts directly to another Instagram account.
Save for later : You may have noticed the icon appear under posts. The samealso appears on your profile. Clickunder posts you want to look at again later, to privately (don’t worry, only you can see the posts you have saved) save them to your profile.
Send privately : Previously, people would maybe use their smartphones screenshot function to capture the post and then share the image through a different app (WhatsApp, iMessage etc…). To promote further interaction within the Instagram platform, users can now send posts directly to other Instagram accounts using the button below posts. Again, like saving posts for later, sending posts is completely private. The post creator will not receive any notification that you have shared their post privately. Posts you send using the function will appear in the Instagram inbox of the recipient.
Tip : Save posts you may want to revisit, from your competitors, influencers or posts you will use for inspiration next time you are struggling to think of post ideas.
Early 2016 saw Instagram add the much-needed ability to manage multiple accounts within the app, giving users the ability to manage up to five accounts at a time. No more frustration of logging in and out between your personal Instagram and your business accounts.
Tip : To add an additional account, click the on your profile to open the options menu. Scroll down and select “Add Account” and login with the details of any additional accounts. To switch between Instagram accounts, go to your profile and hit the down arrow next to your username at the top of the screen, then choose the account you wish to switch to.
Have you got any expert Instagram tips? If so, please post them in the comments section! If you would like any further help or support with anything Social Media Marketing, feel free to get in touch with one of the team!See More Posts