Instagram has reached the 400 million-user mark, making it a great way to reach potential new customers and remain “top of mind” with existing ones.
Here are five new tools, trends and tactics to incorporate into your business’s Instagram strategy. Any one of them has the potential to increase customer engagement. Combined, they’ll transform Instagram into one of your most effective marketing vehicles.
Photo and Video
Instagram is a visual platform where users like to see and engage with high quality images. Recent additions include more photo filters to choose from, including one called “Willow” that creates subtle purple tones and a translucent glowing white border.
When it comes to cropping photos, you are no longer limited to the “square” crop. You can now choose to crop in vertical and horizontal formats to suit the image.
Instagram is making it easy to create and post short videos. “Hyperlapse” makes your phone work like an expensive piece of video production equipment, with a feature that stabilizes shaky video and editing options to create professional looking videos.
“Boomerang” allows you to stitch photos together to create a video. You can also create videos in reverse. Simply shoot a moving object and with the touch of a button you can make that movement go backwards before you post it to Instagram. For the right type of content, this can be a lot of fun.
Branded and Emoji #Hashtags
To increase engagement, companies are getting creative with hashtags that are aligned with their “brand” rather than just their company name or products. Branded hashtags are more about the story or the experience than the actual product.
For example if you sell hiking boots, you might create #whereihike and encourage users to post photos of their hikes using that hashtag. Companies receive the benefit of increased exposure through a photo posted by an Instagrammer who uses the hashtag. Instagrammers love to see their photos featured on a company profile, so they have an incentive to use the brand hashtag.
Love them or hate them, emojis have become a universal visual language to express emotions and reactions on social media. Instagram now makes it easy to use and search for emoji hashtags to increase exposure and engagement.
Explore and Search
Instagram is also making it easier to connect with potential customers by improving searching and following features. By watching trending hashtags, you can see what people are talking about in real time and join the conversation. You can search specific locations (for example, where you operate your business) to see what people are posting and the hashtags they are using. You can use that information to tailor posts to engage with more users.
Call to Action
Instagram has always been a great platform to build brand awareness. Now you can take that one step further with “call to action” buttons. These appear under your post so users can easily sign up for your newsletter, download an app, or shop.
You can take your “call to action” one step further by creating advertising campaigns on Instagram. There are a variety of options to choose from, including the standard still photo, carousel ads that include multiple images, and video ads. The most effective ads on Instagram don’t look like ads. They blend in with other posts and are consistent with the brand.
Give some of these new tools and techniques a try to increase engagement on Instagram. As you do, remember to stay true to your brand with a consistent look and message.