Instagram has changed dramatically from the photo-sharing platform you knew and loved back in 2015. The social media platform has tons of new features, along with algorithm changes that now prioritize different aspects of the platform. In fact, Instagram’s CEO released a statement back in July declaring that Instagram “is no longer a photo-sharing app” and will be instead focusing on entertainment and shopping.
Since 90% of Instagram users follow at least one business and 83% of users have purchased from brands that they’ve been introduced to on Instagram, it is in your best interest to get your Instagram account up to speed for 2021! Use this Instagram feature guide to optimize your brand’s Instagram presence and start seeing the many benefits of this social media platform.
Instagram’s CEO himself emphasized the importance of the app’s entertaining and shopping features. The information below will review some of Instagram’s most important tools.
In contrast to Instagram’s video posts which have a maximum length of 60 seconds, IGTV videos can be up to 60 minutes long. Plus, they are vertically formatted and optimized for mobile viewing. IGTV is a useful platform to showcase your brand’s longer videos, much like YouTube. The tool can showcase products, tutorials, or interviews and can conveniently be stored in the IGTV tab on your Instagram profile.
TIkTok’s main competitor, Instagram Reels takes advantage of the short-form content trend that is rising in popularity in 2021. Reels are all about creativity, as the 60-second videos feature text, music, stickers, and other special effects. Reels are an important part of any brand’s social media strategy – especially when your target audience include millennials and Gen Z – as they help you to stay on top of the latest trends, stand out from the crowd, and showcase creativity.
If you’ve been active on Instagram for some time, you’ll know all about Instagram’s 24-hour Stories. As you may know, the disappearing posts are an effective storytelling feature that provides real, authentic, and engaging content opportunities to connect with followers. For example, Stories provide a great opportunity to give followers a behind-the-scenes look at your brand or to showcase user generated content. The connection Stories helps to create between brands and their followers results in real action by consumers – in fact, 50% of Instagram users surveyed say they have visited a website to make a purchase as a result of viewing Stories.
However, the feature is always coming out with new tools, tricks, and updates so it can be easy to fall behind on the latest Story features. Below are some of the most important Story features to add to your arsenal.
Ever noticed the circular icons at the bottom of an Instagram profile and wondered what they are all about? Those are Story Highlights! Since Stories automatically disappear after 24 hours, Highlights are a way to preserve your valuable Story content and keep it from vanishing forever. Highlights can be organized by topic, product category, season, or anything you want. Highlights work to optimize your profile by organizing relevant information and keeping it at arm’s length.
While tapping through Instagram Stories, you’ve probably come across stickers. These fun and interactive features can be easily added to your story posts in order to boost engagement, increase discoverability, and provide an opportunity for connecting with followers. Some examples of interactive stickers include:
- The question sticker which allows your audience to directly ask you questions.
- The location sticker which can increase your likelihood of being discovered in your local area.
- The polls sticker which allows you to poll your audience.
- The countdown sticker which builds anticipation for an event or product launch.
- The digital gift card sticker which allows your followers to directly by a gift card straight from your Story.
Instagram live usage skyrocketed in 2020, and real-time content is still trending upwards in 2021. Going live on Instagram gives you an opportunity to connect with followers, answer questions, and share announcements in real time. Opportunities for live streaming include showing followers behind-the-scenes at events, sharing product tutorials, or hosting Q&A sessions. After going live, you have the option to share a replay of it to your Story for more views.
If you haven’t set up an Instagram Shop for your brand yet, it is time to do so! Your Instagram Shop allows your audience to directly purchase your products from Instagram itself. After creating your online store, a View Shop button will appear on your profile and a shopping tab on the explore page will allow users to more easily find your products. You can also tag shopping products in posts, Stories, IGTV, and Reels. With roughly one billion users currently active on Instagram, it would be a missed opportunity not to set up shop!
Finally, other ways to optimize your instagram presence in 2021 are to partner with influencers and advertise with Instagram Ads to get in front of a new audience. To learn more about Instagram Ads, Instagram features, or social media in general, contact Anvil to see how we can optimize your online presence.