Getting to grips with Instagram

Did you know that there are over 700 million monthly users on Instagram?

And that 90% of these users follow at least one business account?

In fact, business engagement on this platform is much more widely accepted than on other networks, with reports proving that the majority of people respond positively to branded content as they’re browsing through their Instagram feed.

This is just one of the many reasons why Instagram is such a useful (and, in some cases, irreplaceable) promotional tool for companies that want to make their mark within their online communities.

If you’re new to Instagram – or you’re just not sure that you’re using it to your best advantage! – read on for a quick introduction to the app’s three best features for businesses and how they can help you reach a wider audience.

3 of the best Instagram features for businesses

  1. Instagram Stories

As well as creating permanent content for your grid, you can use Instagram Stories to share photos and videos in a slideshow format. Stories offers you a brilliant way to stay front of mind, as these little snippets are not shown according to an algorithm – instead, they will stay at the top of your followers’ feeds for 24 hours, giving you consistent visibility every time you put out something new.

In fact, over half of Instagram’s active daily users interact with the Stories feature, which means there’s SO much opportunity for exposure here.

You can upload an image or video from your camera roll, then add all kinds of snazzy stickers, colour overlays, geotags, hashtags, graphics, written text, doodles and in-post links using Stories’ own editor. You can even add instant dynamism to your content by creating snappy, action-packed video loops using Instagram’s Boomerang app.

Want to tag a customer, colleague, supplier or other contact in one of your Stories? Easy. Simply click the text icon and type @ followed by the user’s Instagram handle.

  1. Instagram Live

Got an announcement to make? Set up an Instagram Live! This feature allows you to live cast anything you like and interact with watchers in real-time during your event.

When you broadcast via Instagram Live, your content will go out while you’re filming, so you won’t get a chance to edit it – but you will be able to connect with your audience in an honest, authentic and totally transparent way.

Followers will know when you’re going live, as there will be a ring around your avatar. They may also receive a push notification as soon as you launch your video.

Businesses typically use their Instagram Lives to:

  • Promote a brand new product or service
  • Provide tutorials or How Tos
  • Deliver unedited behind-the-scenes footage
  • Answer customer questions
  • Host a Q&A session or a quiz

The beauty of Instagram Lives is that they don’t hang around forever. Like Stories, your live stream will be deleted after 24 hours. This gives your followers some serious FOMO and encourages them to re-watch your stream before it’s too late. (It’s not gone forever, though – you can replay your video via IGTV if you want to).

  1. IGTV

While Instagram Live is designed to accommodate short and sharp video clips, IGTV allows you to post longer form content that provides users with a more in-depth insight into your brand and your business.

IGTV is a separate app that hosts videos up to 10 minutes in length (although it is possible to post content that lasts for up to an hour, if you own a verified account). These videos can be edited with stickers, watermarks and all kinds of amazing special effects to give your production some extra sparkle!

You can also add a description and a hyperlink to each IGTV video to encourage views and promote your own website or blog. And unlike Lives, IGTV videos will stick around on your account indefinitely.

When it comes to features that can boost your business profile and help you reach new customers, the three Instagram mainstays listed here are just the tip of the iceberg. Getting to grips with Instagram takes time and dedication, especially when it comes to understanding and navigating the platform’s notoriously powerful algorithm.

If you need help, check out my social media marketing and management services. There’s a support option to suit every business owner, regardless of where they are at on their Instagram journey!