May 1, 2017

8 Powerful Features to Help You Use Instagram to the Fullest

Instagram boasts over 700 million Instagram monthly users, and 400 million daily users, making it one of the largest social networks today. According to Instagram, 80% of Instagram users follow brands, and 68% engage with brands on a regular business. Amazingly, not every brand has an active profile on Instagram, but 70.7% of businesses are projected to be on Instagram by the end of 2017.

Whether your business is already on Instagram, or you need a little nudge to get started, consider these 8 features to use the platform to the fullest.

Instagram Business Profile

After Instagram realized that a number users were using their accounts primarily for business purposes, Instagram rolled out the business profile. This change also had something to do with Instagram’s parent company, Facebook, who had also been making a number of changes for business users when Instagram’s business profiles were rolled out.  

Why make the change? Instagram business profiles allow you to:

  • Access analytics data, including insights for how posts are performing, and what followers like
  • Add an address, phone number, and website to make it easy for followers to contact you
  • Create Instagram ads

If you haven’t already, you can convert your account into a business profile through your Instagram settings. It’s important to note that you won’t be able to complete this action unless you have a connected Facebook page for your business.

Instagram Analytics (Insights)

After activating a business profile, you’ll gain access to Instagram Insights. Instagram Insights shares relevant data gathered from your followers about who they are and what they like. It offers at-a-glance numbers that identify top posts, post reach, impressions, and engagement. Additionally, Instagram Insights shares demographic data about followers that includes details such as age, gender, and location. This data can be viewed over 7 and 30 day periods.

The most important application of Instagram Insights is the ability to create content that resonates with your followers, taking their demographics into account.

Instagram Ads (Promote)

Use Instagram Ads to turn high performing posts into ads. It’s fairly straightforward – choose a post, and tap on the promote link. From there, choose a call to action and the audience you’d like to target. Set a budget and run date, and check in periodically to see if anything needs to be adjusted to maximize performance.

As of this writing, Instagram Ads isn’t quite as sophisticated as Facebook’s Ad Manager/Power Editor, and you can’t get as granular with goals or targeting. That said, Instagram is a lot less saturated with ads than Facebook, and there are still many opportunities for businesses to achieve great results.

Shopping Feature

According to Instagram, over 84% of people shop or browse for products via mobile. According to James Quarles, Instagram’s VP of Monetization, 60% of Instagrammers say they first learn about new products and services through the app, and 75% say they visit brands’ websites, search, or tell a friend after being influenced by a post on Instagram.

After a test run done by select Instagram brand partners (including Kate Spade and Warby Parker), Instagram has revealed a shopping feature they plan to roll out to all brands in the near future. Up until this point, an Instagram account could have just one clickable link – in the user’s bio.

The new shopping feature will implement a call-to-action button at the bottom of a shoppable photo. Once tapped, this button will display a tag for up to 5 individual products, with pricing information. Once a tag is clicked, a detailed view of the product will open, without leaving Instagram. If the customer taps Shop Now, they will be prompted to complete the purchase.

Though Instagram’s shopping feature is not yet available to everyone, it’s important for brands to keep in mind and strategize for in the future.

Make Use of Filters

Researchers from Yahoo Labs and Georgia Tech found that filtered photos–specifically photos that increase contrast, warmth, and exposure–significantly increase engagement over non-filtered photos. With the right type of filters, photos have an up to 21% higher chance of being viewed, and 45% more chance of receiving comments.

The best filters that researchers have found to boost engagement include Mayfair, Valencia, Rise, Hefe & Nashville, as well as new additions Lark, Slumber or Aden. As far as photo composition, warm tones are recommended, as they give a feeling of arousal and cheerfulness.

Carousel Feature

Instagram’s Carousel Feature now allows you to upload up to 10 photos or videos at once, instead of choosing just 1 photo. In essence, it creates something similar to an album on Facebook, making it possible to show off the different facets of a story or experience. You can edit the look and feel of each photo individually (and likewise tag people on individual photos).

Instagram’s Carousel Feature is not new, but has been recently updated. In 2015, Instagram first launched carousel ads, but only allowed a maximum of 5 photos (and you had to use the advertising feature to use it). In 2016, they started to allow video on carousel ads. More recently, the carousel feature was released to all users for use in regular posts.

If you’re using the carousel feature for ads, it’s interesting to note that carousel ads perform 10x better than regular ads. A few ways to use carousels:

  • Create a step by step tutorial
  • Showcase multiple products
  • Tell a story
  • Share an event

Comment Moderation

Starting in September 2016, Instagram introduced comment moderation, and the ability to like and reply to comments. The latter allows users to interact with their followers in more depth, thereby boosting engagements. For those struggling with negative comments, Instagram also introduced comment moderation, where you can proactively prevent negative comments from being posted. Brands can do this by creating a list of keywords that they want automatically blocked.

Instagram Stories

Instagram stories (almost a carbon copy of Snapchat stories) allow you to share moments of your day in the form of photos and videos and that last 24 hours. What initially started as a way for individuals to share tiny peeks into their daily life, should also be leveraged by companies.

One-third of the most viewed Instagram stories come from business accounts, and 20% of Instagram stories get a direct message. If you’re not sure where to start, seek guidance from businesses that are already making waves with their use of Instagram stories.

Your brand can use Instagram stories to:

  • Show a preview of upcoming projects, collections or work
  • Encourage people to buy something
  • Show what goes on behind the scenes or day to day operations
  • Share business milestones
  • Deliver special, time-sensitive offers

And since they only last so long, make them as compelling as possible! Instagram stories makes for the perfect platform to take advantage of urgency to convert customers.

Use Instagram to the Fullest

Instagram is so much more than a platform composed of visually-appealing status updates. Businesses that understand how to use its powerful features can easily convert followers into long-term customers. Don’t wait until your competition has already gained a foothold on the platform – get started, and implement these features now.