In the current times, different markets have different social media networks where they are dominant or platforms that suit their businesses the most. Surprisingly, when Instagram recently surpassed its 2 billion monthly users it was then we were sure that whether it be startups or small businesses – everyone is online and is making the most of the Instagram features.
The platform was initially used to showcase pretty pictures and get good Instagram engagement on their posts and is now used by various businesses to market their products and services online. Due to an increased competitive pressure created by TikTok, a Chinese video-focused social networking service, Instagram worked on various of its features and introduced new ones to retain its users.
It is safe to say that Instagram is now more focused to help you grow online. Either you are a new business in the market, or you want to strengthen your community, create brand awareness, or even make sales, there’s an Instagram feature to help you achieve your goals.
What Is New at Instagram?
In order to keep its user constantly interested, the app is evolving and experimenting with new Instagram features often now. New features are always on a roll to observe what is in demand, what works out for the users, and what does not. The Instagram algorithm is just not a single algorithm but it is a multi-step process that works to bring the most trending and juiciest content to us. With every new feature launch, these algorithms are affected to keep the newest one on top.
Here are a few Instagram features that rolled out in 2022 so far:
The latest feature rollout will now change how someone reacts to or likes your stories. Private Story Likes, as the name says, will allow you to heart react to someone’s story; meanwhile, it will not result in sending them a Direct Message automatically. Instead, now there will be a heart icon within the stories window which when tapped, will send a “like” notification to the creator.
Stories Likes will not be public and can only be seen by the story creator.
Your Activity Center
For improved content management within the app, new Instagram features roll out this year including, Your Activity display – here a user will have full liberty to control their content on display. Your Activity center is a feature-full window where you can track the amount of time you have spent on the app, the accounts you have recently interacted with, searches, and the bulk delete option for live images.
The Delete option will enable you to select and delete multiple images at the same time. Or you can archive images you wish to keep but also want them to be removed from the Instagram display for all.
Schedule Instagram Live
After a continuous struggle of reminding people via Instagram stories and feed posts that you will be going live, the Instagram Story feature came up with a display reminder for the upcoming live stream on the creator’s account.
This reminder will have the Live Stream’s basic information on display which will include the topic, the day, date, and time. On tapping the preview, it will open in a pop-up with further information about the event. According to Instagram’s chief, you can add several display reminders on your profile and users can scroll through them.
To keep yourself reminded of an upcoming live session, you can also avail yourself the option of ‘Remind Me’ within the prompt pop-up message.
Instagram Photos Collaboration
There are several secret Instagram tips that can bring exceptional growth to your accounts but this feature is new in the market with a guaranteed boost. Photo collaboration is one of the recently rolled out Instagram features, which allows two accounts to have a joint post.
Initially, the Instagram collaborations were only seen when a post used to be a paid partnership. Now a post created by one user can be seen on the account/feed of the tagged or invited second account too at the same time. Simply click ‘tag person’ and then go for ‘invite a collaborator’ to have them on your post in collaboration.
Make The Most of Instagram Features!
Create, edit, design, and schedule Instagram posts using multiple features in a go for weeks, months, and even the upcoming years.
7 Best Instagram Features for Marketers
Instagram is a well-established social media network with some super-loved features by its users. But not all features are marketing or brand-specific so here I am listing down the 7 best Instagram features for marketers that will help you in boosting your online presence.
Reels – At The Top
We are convinced that Instagram and its algorithm are mainly focused on using Reels as the major format for content marketing on social media. So it is not a science to understand that any quality content using trending sounds when marketed as a short-format video will get more reach and impressions than feed videos.
Among the major Instagram business features, Reels tops the list for it to be supporting the Collab feature which enables two different brands to collaborate over a single post. Instagram Collab feature allows individuals, brands, or influencers to co-post a Reel. Collaboration is possible for Reels and Feed posts both, but Reels being the highly supported format is more discoverable among new audiences.
Initially, there were only two possibilities to add a second party to your posts; either tag the business accounts to the posts (providing no transparency on the tag being personal or business) or to have a branded collaboration that is not available for all. So, this is one of those new Instagram features that allow you to get higher discoverability, better engagement, and brand awareness to capture new audiences.
Videos – The Evergreen Format
Instagram users have always been a fan of video format since its launch and it was the reason why more video-centric apps came into being like TikTok which increased the competition in the market. Different businesses prefer video content for endorsement purposes from various influencers and celebrities – and this Instagram video feature is best for it. Videos are a great way to introduce your company culture and to build trust with your followers and customers.
A pro tip is, to keep the first few seconds of your video engaging, so you can catch people’s interest.
In the start, the videos were kept under 60 seconds in length which resulted in crispier content and more Instagram engagement. Then they experimented with a longer format of video as IGTV which initially worked well but gradually failed to impress the creators and users. One day it left everyone questioning what happened to IGTV as it retired from Instagram after more than two years! This is when Instagram increased the lengths of video formats from 60 seconds to now 60 minutes.
According to research, 54% of people who wish to see more video content from marketers are more likely to purchase a product online after watching a video. So, using video features to show your products how they look, how they can be useful, and how they stand out in the market can be a big way to increase sales. Videos among the Instagram features are a massive tool to communicate your brand story, explain your value proposition, and build valuable relationships with customers and potential prospects online.
Stories and Stickers – The Most Interactive
One of the highly liked Instagram features is Instagram Stories without a doubt. This one feature is used and loved by almost everyone that uses Instagram whether for personal or professional reasons. Stories are short-lived content and appear as tappable circles at the top of your follower’s feed. You can view content within 24hours just like on Snapchat before it vanishes.
Instagram Stories can be viewed as many times as you wish to view, you can react to them, you can respond or reply back by sending a message directly from the story to the inbox. And most importantly they can be shared from a public account to your own stories or to a separate account.
For Marketers, the Instagram Story feature plays a vital role in generating reach, profile visits, and an increase in potential follower count. Stories can be feasibly automated with a powerful Instagram scheduler as well like with Social Champ to save ample amounts of time.
Story feature is also useful for brand promotions, So, now you are thinking about how right?
Let me spill the beans about 2 main features within Instagram Stories:
Stickers are the most interactive feature on Instagram if you are looking for quick results or to start a conversation right away.
Questions and Poll Stickers are preferred to educate the audience about your brand or any upcoming new product. Polls help in triggering a thought process among your followers regarding the services you provide and ones that the people are interested in.
Location Stickers are a favorite for your brand promotions where influencers or bloggers can always share your shop’s location within their stories. Location Sticker helps in creating a tappable link to the right location to generate more clicks/interactions.
Link Stickers are a new Instagram feature after the retirement of swipe-up links which were only available for accounts with a certain number of followers. Now the Link Stickers are available for all to connect their business websites, online shops, blogs, and everything with a URL and outside Instagram directly to their stories.
Mentions and Hashtags are the most used stickers among all. Businesses use hashtags to create trends or to jump on a top trend bandwagon to get more visibility and reach. Mentions allow you to tag a particular person or people in your story who can then reshare the same to their stories.
Followers love you for mentioning them.
● Shoppable Tags
Shoppable tags allowed businesses to tag their products on photos. So they can post a picture and tag that post with a shoppable option, which the audience can tap right away, and make a purchase from their online shop.
Shoppable tags are now available in Instagram Stories too. What could be better than showcasing your own products in a live story or showcasing to your customer how to use your products on the story? These tags can result in building trust and authenticity of the brand.
Instagram features majorly support Stories and this is why it has a separate setting tab where we can adjust Story settings. You can choose to hide Insta stories from certain users’ feeds and edit who can or can’t reply to you via direct messages.
One of the revolutionary steps taken by the meta was to enter eCommerce by launching Instagram Shops in 2020 when pandemic affected physical businesses.
Shops are basically full-screen storefronts for any brand that enables marketers to make product discovery convenient and easy. Consumers or users can visit a shop from a business’ Instagram profile or from feed/Stories. The Shop tab can be found on the main creator’s profile – once in, you can browse products, explore collections, and purchase products with ease.
For marketers, this Instagram feature turned out to be a game-changer. Shopping from online websites seemed less convenient in front of having an entire brand account with customer reviews, product catalog, model images, a direct inbox to inquire, and of course now a clickable shop too. Instagram allows shopping via the in-app browser or their Instagram Checkout feature. The Instagram Checkout enables a user to enter a shop, choose a product and make a purchase without leaving the app in a 2-tap process – yes this is how convenient it is.
Instagram shopping is evolving with time and their e-commerce lineup now includes:
- Feed Posts Shopping – Tag up to 5 products directly on the feed with a single image or video once you have established Instagram shopping.
- Carousel Posts Shopping – Tag up to 20 products directly on a carousel post with multiple images.
- Stories Shopping – With an exit to swipe-up links, Instagram introduced product stickers where businesses can tag physical products from their inventory or e-commerce platform directly to stories displaying the products.
- Reels Shopping – Tagging of products can now be done within reels too.
Instagram Live is much in-trend and highly used in the count of Instagram features from the big brands to the new small businesses. These are videos but they are LIVE! Live sessions can later be saved as recorded videos on the feed to make the most of them.
But, how exactly can Instagram Live benefit a marketer?
Brand authenticity and transparency are the very first basics to generate customers and this is exactly what live sessions do. Moreover, Instagram notifies everyone following you when you go live, these flowers can react or comment during your live sessions and can also request to be a part of the ongoing session. Instagram Live allows collaboration, where you can invite a co-host or a guest to your session to have a great discussion which can be viewed by your guest’s audience as well.
Instagram Live is also great for generating potential leads, community building, and boosting Instagram engagement. People may come and ask you questions that you can answer right there and then, you can ask your followers to message their questions about whatever topic you’ll be discussing during the live broadcast beforehand.
Real-time interactions are great for your brand exposure.
This is one of my favorite Instagram features when it comes to bringing my created content to reach the masses. As a social media management tool, our focus is to drive content around how anyone from entrepreneurs to startups or agencies can make the most of social media to boost their businesses, increase sales and educate their followers within their capacities.
Carousels being a format with multiple photos allow brands and services to display their products in a much better manner to their potential customers. This format is useful to create interactive content as well which allows brands to educate customers about their services or share insights about their brand story.
For Social Champ, a carousel on ‘Why to Post Content on LinkedIn’ worked really well within 24hrs as can be seen in the shared screenshot. This one carousel resulted in more followers to the Instagram account, customer conversions, and increased traffic on the website for the company.
This is recent among other Instagram features and highly liked by many including me. We all know that stories disappear in 24 hours but the highlights do not!
Instagram Stories Highlights allow brands to have their most potential story updates to stay longer on the Instagram profile for anyone visiting the business. Instagram saves your Story Highlights at the top of your profile page for followers to have a look and make the most of it. Marketers utilize this feature for highlighting special events covered, for customer reviews to be compiled in one place, quotes or tips compilation, and much more.
Automate to Make the Most of Instagram Features as a Marketer
How many of us plan on starting working on a new task in the next 10 minutes once we are done posting on Instagram and next we know, we are 20 minutes past our target time?
Social media is not only captivating but may take a lot of your time, efficiency, and energy while posting and engaging online, every day. In today’s time creating a social media content calendar for at least up to 3 months to 6 months is an ideal approach to manage social media effortlessly.
But how do stay on time every day with online postings, especially for different time zones?
Social media automation here plays a vital role in aligning everything to maintain content consistency, save time, and connect with potential users. Management tools could be quite pricey at times but a free scheduling tool with a feature-full dashboard can be very handy, like Social Champ.
I bring you the top 4 Instagram features for marketers that can be used effortlessly with a social media automation tool:
Schedule to Never Miss Out
A well-equipped publishing dashboard with all handy integrations is not what the Instagram app offers, but with Social Champ, you can make the most of creating Feed Posts, Stories, or Carousels.
Instagram features can make the most bye searching and uploading trending images from the desktop, stock images, or image hosting services (Imgur & Flickr), adding up to 30 hashtags in one go using the Hashtag Manager, viewing a preview of the entire post, analyzing sentiments on the go, and much more.
Schedule content ahead of time individually or in bulk on the best time to post on Instagram and get higher reach, impressions, and engagement without the hassle of being online or setting up reminders.
Drive Traffic by Monitoring Insights In-Depth
Insight feature is great when it comes to providing analytical details about each Post, Story, or Reel posted online on a weekly, monthly, and quarterly basis. Analytical metrics allow us to keep a track of what content is working for the brand and which ones need to be taken down and replaced for good.
Social media campaigns if not monitored from time to time can result in online trash on display. A comparative analysis of Instagram features is the need of time which can be super handy for businesses to produce better and trending content. Social Champ, unlike Instagram, provides in-depth monitoring of analytics per day, per week, or per month with 365 days or on custom dates for metrics undefined by Instagram itself.
An automation tool will provide not only the tracking capability of Instagram metrics but will enable the ability to download presentable, custom reports in PDF and CSV formats with beautiful graphs.
Better Visibility with Instagram First Comment
Social media managers simply love one specific feature out of all Instagram features when it comes to creating clean and presentable yet trending posts – Instagram First Comment.
The habit of adding a bunch of hashtags within the captions along with content looks messy, overdone, and distracting. When the platform’s algorithm was understood better, it was realized that trending hashtags if added within caption or in comments may drive similar content reach and impressions. The concept of Instagram’s first comment initiated here and then followed by many marketers online to trend and catch as many eyes as possible.
But this is a manual process that now can be automated with Social Champ. Create individual posts or in bulk (for up to 3 years) with an Instagram First Comment on the run and schedule it, to find the images posted along with the first comment automatically. Tadaa!
Organize and Streamline Content
As we initially discussed, the importance of creating a content calendar ahead of time can be super helpful to have the right flow of content online. Instagram itself does not support a business feature to support scheduling or have an in-app organizer.
Instagram scheduling can be done from meta’s Creator Studio but neither does it support first comments nor have an organizer with a calendar view front. Champs meanwhile can make the most with a visually aesthetic all-in-one social media calendar to streamline all their scheduled and posted content. Social Champ’s Calendar feature allows a person to create, edit, schedule, view or delete a post from a single space in a grid view filtered on the basis of day, date, and time.
All in All
Most of the marketing is now done online, while a boost in eCommerce stores can also be seen with the changing times. To drive sales, to create brand story and awareness, and to steadfast the market competition it is important to jump on the social media bandwagon.
Instagram being the second most downloaded social media app in 2021 is a hub for marketers from top global brands to a vast majority of small businesses. It was an initial step to cater to the masses with a feature-rich professional account that now has new Instagram features rolling out every now and then. All the features mentioned in this article individually have great potential for business and marketing purposes, but using them in combination and making them work together can produce the best results for your brand.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. What Are The Main Features of Instagram?
2. How to use Instagram Reels?
- Tap on the plus sign and record a video or upload a pre-recorded video.
- Choose trending music for it or use your original audio.
- Add text and effects to the video.
- Set the speed for your video.
- Preview the Reel and add captions.
- Add trending hashtags.
Post it! Tadaa.