World over, Instagram today is no more a mere social media platform and has evolved as a holistic marketing tool for all the brands- big and small. The influence of Instagram on buying is an undeniable fact, with more and more users attributing their decision making to the app. According to a survey, as many as 72% of Instagram users say they are more likely to buy a product after coming across it on the app. What’s even more interesting when social media users were asked what platform are they most influenced by, a whopping 51% of them chose Instagram. No wonder the total number of advertising campaigns on the app nearly doubled in 2017, and have been steadily increasing since then.
Utilizing Instagram features
Here are some of the Instagram features you can use to up your Instagram marketing game:
Posts- both photo and video formats, maybe the oldest feature on the app but are still responsible for much of the engagement that happens on Instagram. Instagram originally started off as a photo-sharing platform, and over the years it has revolutionized the way brands can communicate with their audience. It provides you with interesting features that can enhance your photos and videos, and help you create unique color pallets that people can easily recognize your brand with.
Example: A B&W profile created by a Japanese photographer Akihito Nagata demonstrates her unique brand voice through her choice of colors.
Instagram introduced stories in late 2016 with phased updates around the world, and it would not be an exaggeration to say that the feature changed the way people interacted with brands on the app. A lot of people initially saw ‘Stories’ as just another feature Instagram copied from a rival, this time Snapchat. However, what they missed was the massive user base of Instagram that consisted of brands waiting to reach out to their customers and users craving for newer avenues of engagement. Stories did the job of providing immense value to both, and continue to do so. Instagram has since then kept adding sub-features to the Stories feature, like sharing music, creating quizzes, going live with multiple people, hosting a Q&A session, tagging people, etc.
These features have boosted the engagement levels and prompted the bosses over at Instagram to introduce Ads for stories as well. Brands can advertise their content in Stories through paid marketing by setting up targetted campaigns and reach millions of untapped users on the app.
Example: Cheerios, a breakfast cereal brand uses Stories to engage with their audiences and post encouraging one-liners by tagging them. A totally endearing way to use the feature that we can all get behind!
IGTV & Reels
IGTV, or Instagram TV, is another feature in Instagram’s own version of long-form, vertical video sharing. Before IGTV, you could only post videos up to 1 minute long, and this often became created a hindrance in storytelling. To counter this, Instagram introduced a video sharing platform where users can upload videos up to 15 minutes long. What separates it from most other long-form video sharing platforms is that it is tailored to view vertical content. The creators have been mindful of the fact that most of the audience uses mobile devices today.
Profile Grids are mosaic patterns and designs that you can form on your profile by uploading a series of photographs or videos in a particular order. Instagram displays all your posts by lining them up in rows of three on your profile. This makes it possible for you to split an image into 6 or 9 images and post each of them differently, creating a unique, out of the world visual experience for your users every time they visit your profile. What’s even better is that the users are most likely to visit your profile every time they come across a photo that is part of your grid, to get the full picture. This boosts up your brand engagement and makes them visit your profile more often.
Example: The OA, a show on Netflix, created this thrilling profile grid that got their audiences hooked not just to their show but also their profile.
Instagram Bios are spaces on your profile page where you can provide a description of your brand, and mention your USPs. It also allows you to display a location that you operate out of. Instagram doesn’t allow you to share links in the captions or comments. However, you can add a link on your profile which will be displayed just below your bio.
Comments & DMs
Comments are a great way to keep the conversations going between you and your followers. It ensures that communication isn’t one way, that you’re always listening to the chatter, and don’t shy away from occasionally being a part of it. You can reply to comments on your own posts and provide users with more information about your products and services, at times asking them to DM or email you in case they have a specific issue. You can also comment under relevant content by other users and connect with their audience, subtly prompting them to visit your profile and get to know about your brand.
DMs or Direct Messages are Instagram features where users can chat with each other individually or in groups. You can encourage your followers to reach out to you via DMs whenever they seek any specific information. DMs are a great way to ensure that your communication with your followers on the app is not just limited to you creating content for them, but also extends to a more personal, one to one, direct channel.
The completely free of charge switch from a normal account to a business account on Instagram arms you with a very powerful feature known as Instagram Insights. Insights look into your followers and provide statistics such as where most of your audience lives, what age groups do they belong to, what the gender ratio is, and what time of the day and the week are they most active on. True to its name, the feature gives you great insights into who your audience really is, and how to best market to them. This is an extremely powerful tool to create user segments and target them.
While it may be anybody’s guess what features are next on Instagram’s list, one can be sure that the company won’t shy away from experimenting with innovative ways of communicating and that it will for long-stay a hot favorite marketing tool, thanks to its massive user base around the globe and its fresh approach towards content creation.
'There are no boring topics, only boring content. There also are no interesting topics, only interesting content' - is the gist of why I write. A politics buff and a music aficionado, passionate about all things tech. Perpetually adding places to his travel bucket list and checking them off- a trip at a time.
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