Instagram has rolled out several new features this year, shifting the ever-popular social platform from an arena where brands are simply discovered to a space where real-time conversions are made. With over 25 million Instagram business profiles worldwide, it is easy to understand why consumer brands are particularly keen to harness the new functionality. So, what’s new? We look at 5 of the newest features that could benefit your small business:
Introduced in June, Instagram TV is a new stand-alone app that can also be viewed via the main Instagram feed. It offers users longer-form (up to 1 hour) portrait video content. It is still early days for IGTV, but it looks set to offer businesses a new way to reach their audiences and the opportunity to present more ‘brand polished’ video content. With Instagram reporting an 80% increase in time spent watching video, early adoption of this feature could prove beneficial.
Shoppable posts are one of the most significant changes for retail. They were launched in March this year and are available to anyone with a business profile. It allows followers to shop directly from an organic or sponsored post by clicking on the shoppable ‘sticker’. To use the shoppable function, businesses must link their Instagram account to their Facebook catalogue / shop.
Insta Stories were introduced last year and now boast over 300 million daily users. Furthermore, 1/3 of the most viewed Stories are from business profiles. Instagram are evolving this SnapChat-esque feature and improving its functionality. Your Insta Stories can now be found by non-followers through hashtag search and Explore. Stories can now be shared and shoppable stickers are also being trialled. Currently, links can only be used if you have a verified profile or more than 10k followers, but these developments are likely to be released to all business profiles in the near future.
Live Video Chat
June also saw Instagram launch live video chat which can be accessed via direct messaging. Whilst this new feature is primarily aimed at connecting friends, it could also be used as an interactive platform for customer service. Keep an eye on this one, as we’re sure that Instagram will add additional functionality to this feature.
Instagram recently changed their algorithm, which determines where your posts appear in followers’ feeds. Small businesses were left frustrated by the recent updates. The changes appeared to leave them out in the cold, with organic posts falling in priority on the social feed which had previously championed independent brands. Instagram offered some small insight into the changes in response to the feedback. This included prioritising the most recently published content, posts which have high-levels of engagement and the use of relevant, yet not overly-repeated, hashtags to tap into targeted user interests.
Ultimately, algorithms can’t be controlled. But the new features recently introduced by Instagram, particularly IGTV and Insta Stories, offer businesses new opportunities to be more visible within their audience feeds and fresh ways to present their brand.
To find out more on how Instagram could be effectively integrated into your marketing strategy, contact our team.