Having an Instagram account isn’t just for fun anymore and if you’re looking to get on the radar, it’s a necessity.
These days, millions of companies make their online presence known by being on Instagram. In fact, more than 25 million companies worldwide are currently using Instagram for business.
So, why Instagram? It’s the perfect place to reach an audience. Instagram has a large user base with 1 billion active users every month. What makes it a perfect place for businesses is because it has less competition and a much more engaged audience than Twitter or Facebook.
Also, Facebook is more focused on connecting its users with their family and friends, Whereas Instagram has made itself known as a new home for brands.
So, whether you are just getting started with your business or just trying to polish your current strategies, here are 15 of Instagram’s updates every business owner needs to use.
1. Support Small Businesses
The COVID-19 breakout forced the world to go on lockdown and many brick and mortar businesses to close down temporarily. Jobs were also lost and pay cuts were made. As a result, many individuals had to figure out how to make ends meet.
Some people took their businesses with them and worked from home. Some started their own small businesses in their humble abodes. With big brands on Instagram, it can be intimidating for us to start a new business.
So, Instagram looked into it and made a new update— the “Support Small Businesses” sticker. This sticker is great for those who want to get some exposure from their followers or friends of followers.
How does it work?
According to Instagram, “users can mention businesses directly in the sticker to give their followers a preview of the account. When people use the sticker, their story will be added to a shared Instagram story, so their followers can see it along with other businesses that people they follow are supporting.”
2. Instagram Shops
If you sell products, you should definitely be using the Instagram shopping feature. It makes the whole buying process for your customers way easier.
Since 2017, Instagram has made brands using the platform to transform their profiles and into storefronts. They’ve also perfected the shopping experience into seamless transactions.
Instead of directing your customers from your Instagram to your site, Instagram shopping allows customers to choose and buy products from the app.
However, there are a few requirements you need to meet before being able to enable Instagram Shopping. First of all, you need to make sure that you’re based in a country where the feature is available, make sure you have a business profile, and connect your Instagram profile to a Facebook page.
Second, create your product catalog on Facebook. When you have added your products to your catalog, you can tag them in your posts and Stories. Third, once you have all of those set up, you can submit your account for review.
Once your account has been approved, you’ll see a new option called “Shopping”. You can start using this by uploading a picture and then tapping the items you want to tag. The maximum number of products for each post is 5.
3. Live Videos on IGTV
Did you know that you can share your live videos to IGTV once you’re finished with recording? Before, Live broadcasts could be uploaded to your Stories but would disappear after 24 hours.
Now, you can download your live video into your phone and republish it anywhere else. Although this might seem like a small update, it’s super useful for any profiles who are looking to make fast and fun content.
People don’t have to miss out on your live videos and you can drive more traffic to your profile! It’s also a great opportunity to collaborate with other brands or influencers.
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4. Instagram Story Filters
Story filters on Instagram have been expanded and anyone can create their own filter. This is a great way for profiles to gain exposure as well. Depending on how much people like your filter, you can gain virality by creating a filter anyone can use.
Some profiles have gained traction from their filters alone. A good example is @johwska who is an artist. She made different filters and many people started using it. She has gained a lot of followers from the exposure alone.
Some brands create filters to showcase their products. For example, Kylie Jenner Cosmetics created a filter that allows users to try on different shades of her lip kits However, users can only use the Kylie Cosmetics filter if they follow the profile.
So, if you’re looking to boost your follower count and increase engagement, maybe it’s time to create your own viral filter.
5. The Algorithm
No matter how many times you post, it won’t help you increase your engagement. So what do you do? The only solution is to churn out content that people like! Easier said than done but the second thing is definitely something anyone can do.
Engage with your followers.
Reply to their comments, respond to questions, answer your direct messages! If you keep it up, you’ll definitely see a boost in your engagement rate and traffic.
6. Following Categories
This update is quite recent but it’s super useful to see who you’re interacting with the most and who you’re interacting with the least. When you go to your “Following” section, you’ll see two categories.
You can utilize this by interacting with the accounts you’re following more and figuring out how you can improve your engagement rate based on the least interacted category.
Or if you’re trying to narrow down your “Following” list, you can reduce it based on the least interacted category.
7. Creative Freedom on Stories
Instagram updated its Story features with lots of cool tools and stickers, allowing its users to get more creative with their stories. Now, you can use different fonts on your pictures and draw arrows with ease thanks to a new tool in the app.
Another cool feature is the “Create” option. If you’re making an announcement or creating a lengthy text post, this allows you to type on a blank background. You can also use this to do polls, ask your followers questions, answer their questions, and even use pre-made templates to show what shows or music you’re currently interested in.
Stories are a great way to engage your audience and showcase your values and interests so your audience can know more about you and you can know more about them.
8. Hashtag Insights
When you enter your hashtag, you can now see the volume or number of posts using them. These insights are useful for your business if you know how to use them. Similar to keyword research, choose the right volume and hashtags.
For example, you want to post a photo of your latest launch, if you enter hashtags related to your product, you should choose a volume that suits you. The more people are posting with the hashtag, the more likely your post is going to be unseen.
What you can do is use hashtags that are in your niche but with a noticeable volume to ensure that it won’t get lost in the rest of the posts. So, it’s crucial that your content is eye-catching enough and that you use your insights wisely.
9. Shorter Bio
Bios on Instagram are now shortened. So for profiles with long bios, it will be cut off with a “Read More” button. This is important for businesses since a bio is the first thing a user sees when they visit a profile.
To adapt to this change, Limit your word count and include important details. Think of making a good first impression for users who visit your profile. Brands usually use this space to announce information or even use it as a place to showcase their motto.
10. Direct Message Filter
As your Instagram account begins to grow, you’ll notice an influx of direct messages in your inbox. To get organized, you can use a filter to sort out which messages are unread, flagged, or read.
Once you have your filter set, your inbox will only show unread messages. You can also flag messages that you need to get back to. This will highlight the message and remind you to get back to it when you can.
Instagram also has the “Quick Replies” option so you don’t have to type out the same reply to every message that asks the same question. You simply need to type out the shortcut so a reply will be generated. Although it’s similar to auto text and you still need to open the messages individually, it’s better than typing the same reply hundreds of times.
Instagram is always updating their app with new features and tools. We hope these new updates caught your attention and that you can put them to use as soon as you finish reading this post. Instagram is constantly updating its platform with new features and tools. So, it’s crucial for every business owner to know what changes were made and the latest updates.
About the Author
Andre Oentoro is one of the co-founders of Milkwhale, an internationally acknowledged infographic production agency. He helps businesses increase visibility on the internet with visual data and well-placed outreach campaigns.