It can be hard to keep up with all the free features Instagram offers because of how quickly the platform updates these days. Never fear! We’ve identified which ones you should familiarize yourself with, and why. Below is some bite-sized information about each worthwhile Instagram feature to get you started…
If you’re not posting Instagram Stories already, now is the time to start. Over 500 million people use the feature every day! These small pieces of ephemeral content are great for expanding your reach on the platform. They disappear from the public eye after 24 hours, which gives brands an excuse to share photos and videos that are a little less edited and a little more personable. Try giving your audience a behind-the-scenes look at your business and let your authenticity shine through. Also, Stories are a good method for posting timely content since they expire automatically, and because they appear right at the top of the “Home” feed when a user opens the app. As an example, if you have an upcoming event to promote, we recommend posting Instagram Stories about it. For more details on what to post and how the mechanics work, read our blog Social Media Stories.
If you’d like to increase engagement on your Instagram, we recommend using “Stories stickers.” Options such as the “Location” sticker help you connect with specific communities online. Then there are even more interactive options, such as the “Poll” sticker, which is perfect for accounts that already have a following but could use a little more insight into the minds of their audience. To learn more about the wide variety of Stories stickers available, check out our post Businesses Are Missing the Boat on Instagram Stories Stickers.
Going live is another tactic for engaging your audience. We recommend using this feature during an event or to broadcast an of the moment message. First, make sure you have a bit of a game plan, and that your content is worth sharing. Your followers will get a notification that you are live, and your stream will show up at the top of their feed near the Stories, so they’ll be expecting to see something exciting. That’s why activities that are happening in real time are perfect to showcase live.
Whether you’re posting them to your Story, going live, or recording them for future use, videos are the top dog of content marketing. They get shared more, and they’ve even been proven to convince viewers to make a purchase. However, the best way to share videos on Instagram is by posting them as Reels. Scrollable short-form video timelines, such as TikTok, are all the rage and Reels are Instagram’s response to this trend. These videos can only be 60 seconds long at most! Why should your videos fit into such a specific mold? Because when they do and you allow them to be viewed within the Reels tab on Instagram, your reach expands. Reels are sent out to users based on algorithms within the platform, which means that a lot more people than your existing followers have the potential to see it.
When it comes to what your Reels should look like, they can be casual like Stories or more produced. The most important thing to do is to ensure that they align with the rest of your branding and can be used as tools in your overall marketing strategy. Also, this format is perfect for helpful content like how-tos, DIYs, explainers, quick tips, and step-by-steps. Make a Reel that is both entertaining and informative and you might just go viral. Once you have the basics down, you can consider trying specific trends or using popular audio options to please the algorithm gods. Still feel a little lost? Try consulting our blog, Short Form Video Basics for Brands.
This feature was made specifically for long-form videos. IGTV posts can be 10 minutes long for most accounts, and an hour long for those with a significant following. If you have a video that’s too long to be shared as a Reel, this is a great option. Just because content doesn’t fit into the trendy short-form requirements doesn’t mean it’s not worth sharing. For starters, some subject matter simply cannot be covered in one minute. Also, some people truly prefer to watch longer videos. Try posting a variety of lengths to test your audience’s preferences, then focus on producing the types of videos that see the most success.
This classic feature is an oldie but a goodie. The best part about hashtags is that they can be used in conjunction with all the newer features we’ve already discussed to get you even more reach! Instagram posts with at least one hashtag get around 13% more engagement than posts with none. Hashtags are the perfect way for Instagram users to connect with new people. If you use them strategically, they can bring users who are interested in the kind of things you offer or people in your area straight to your Instagram. Just be sure to choose hashtags that relate to your industry, region, or target audience. By using specific keywords instead of just silly or trendy phrases, hashtags can significantly grow both your post engagement and follower count. Read our blog, How to Use Instagram Hashtags, for a more in-depth explanation.
Now that you know a little more about Instagram’s best features, make sure you also have goals and strategies for how to reach them in mind. If you need assistance with this, start with our blog, Instagram Marketing Strategy Tips. When you know what you’re trying to achieve on the platform, it will become clear which features you should be using and why. If you have any lingering questions, feel free to reach out!