Maintaining your presence over social media platforms can feel like playing a game of musical chairs-there’s no opportunity for you to get comfortable. Instagram in particular loves to shake things up, presenting both personal and business users with regular changes to the interface, like the frequent rehauls of their algorithm, or the introduction of new tools and apps, including IGTV and Instagram Direct, and keeping us all on our toes.
You don’t want to be feeling left behind when these new features come along, so we’re going to review some of the latest ones and offer you tips about how to exploit their potential, whether your goal is to attract new leads, drive more traffic to your website, or simply increase the visibility of your brand over social media.
New additions to ‘Stories’
Since its introduction in 2016, the ‘Stories’ feature has been getting more and more sophisticated, with additions including the ‘Poll’ function, and, for accounts over 10,000 followers, ‘See More’, which lets users click through to a webpage or buy directly over Instagram.
Amongst its most recent additions is its new ‘Questions’ stickers, which encourage followers to pose questions to you, or for you to set them questions that they can answer. As well as it being a fun feature which makes your brand appear more relatable, it actually serves as a very effective tool for gathering data, indicating to you what your audience is interested in and what you should be focusing on when creating content in the future.
Story Highlights let you pin posts for an indefinite period, rather than them disappearing within 24 hours. If you are unsure what kind of content should be focusing on here, why not feature an ‘About Us’ post for giving users a handy overview of your brand, or include previews of your company’s main products and services in this section.
IGTV is the very latest feature available across the platform. Building on the popularity of sharing videos over Stories or doing live casts, it’s a step up from before. IGTV lets you upload 10 minutes of footage (1 hour for verified accounts with a larger number of followers) that will remain on your IGTV feed available to watch indefinitely.
You can use this platform to share tutorial videos seamlessly, or a mini-episode of the goings-on at your company-even interviews with members of your team. Feel free to get out and about and show your company on the move, previewing what they get up to an industry event, or demonstrating a product so viewers can see it in action. The possibilities are, of course, endless, and the more you post over this medium, the bigger following you’ll have as users come to expect regular and informative content from you.
It’s early days but the feature is already well-liked by both personal and business users, allowing them to share content which has a little more depth or is less raw than the spontaneous material that’s common to Stories.
New ‘Explore’ page
The Explore page can be an opportunity for your business to be seen by a huge audience over Instagram. With its interface being updated to include ‘Topic’ feeds tailored to the user’s interests, your best chance at getting featured is to review the kinds of hashtags you already use, update them, and ensure that you always post with the ones most relevant and applicable to your followers’ interests. Choose these wisely, and look to publishing content, video or static, that can compete with what is appearing on these curated feeds so that your account stands out.
How to measure performance in 2018
In the end, it’s no good investing time and creativity when posting without having the tools to analyse any of the data that they yield. If you aren’t already, you ought to be using a CRM platform, such as Hubspot or Sprout Social, for creating a content calendar and scheduling your posts. Not only does this make your life easier when posting, these programmes track performance and give you detailed quantitative and qualitative data about your audience's interactions with the posts.
To take it further, other products used alongside your CRM can offer you even deeper insights into your performance specifically across this social media platform. Alongside Instagram’s own analytic tools, Iconosquare is a third-party programme which is unique in being able to offer analytics for your Stories, not just main photo and video posts. You can set up Google Analytics especially for tracking and reporting on your overall social media performance and measuring your ROI, meanwhile, content analysing tool Buzzsumo indicates how successfully social media posts which promote or mention content from your website perform.