Social media continues to be a key tool for connection — whether it be on a local or global scale. One of the fastest-growing platforms to date is Instagram. With 26.9 million users, the app continues to expand every year and develop new features and tools for users to explore. It is no secret that COVID-19 has had a global impact on how individuals and organizations communicate. In response to this global crisis, Instagram has made significant efforts to help businesses expand their services digitally.
According to the Instagram COVID-19 blog, the platform has taken many steps to help people access accurate information, stay safe, and stay connected. The updates that have been released in response to COVID-19 include:
- Including more educational resources in Instagram Search
- Bringing communities together through Instagram Live, Instagram Shopping, and IGTV
- Adding stickers to Instagram Stories to promote, celebrate, and provide accurate information
- Removing COVID-19 accounts from recommendations, unless posted by a credible health organization
- Rolling out the donation sticker in more countries and helping people find relevant nonprofits to support
- Creating a shared story to help those practicing social distancing connect with others, using a “Stay Home” sticker
- Launching a new way to browse Instagram with friends over video chat
Not only does Instagram provide its users with up to date resources, but they also provide a way to stay connected in a world where our interactions are limited. Many small businesses are utilizing social media for marketing and connecting with their customers. Families and friends are able to stay connected with their loved ones through the use of the app and all its features. Some of the top features available now include stories, friends lists, Explore page, and IGTV.
4 Instagram Features to Leverage During COVID-19
Here are four features on Instagram that users (and marketers) should be leveraging to connect with their audience in a new way.
Share stories to increase reach and influence
The first feature is the new ability to share stories. In the world of social media, the term “story” is often a collection of images and short videos with filters or text that a user can add to over time. The content is ephemeral and disappears after 24 hours. Recently, the platform added the ability for its users to add their own posts as well as others to their own stories. This increases the number of viewers your posts can reach and ultimately increases the amount of influence your posts may have. By utilizing this feature, users are able to share some of their favorite local spots including restaurants, coffee shops, breweries, or small businesses. Businesses can be dramatically impacted by this feature and gain new clientele. Check out this guide with tips and tricks for those who would like to create their own Instagram stories.
Recognize the power of “close friends”
Close Friends Instagram FeatureUsers now have the close friends list that allows them to share what they want and with a bonus privacy feature. All you have to do is add your best (closest) friends to a separate group. When you do this you have the ability to share your post with a limited or handpicked audience. This feature also works for businesses, who can create lists of VIPs, frequent customers, or biggest fans to reward them with content like exclusive offers, sneak previews, or “insider” deals through a green-illuminated profile image or “story”.
Welcome to the Explore Page
The Explore page is another feature that has tremendously impacted businesses and brands on Instagram. This feature is huge for branding, because it’s designed to help profiles and businesses gain more engagement and exposure on the app with minimal effort. The page is set up to be personalized with content tailored to an individual user. It takes into account content that you often like or comment on as well as the stories and IGTV streams you frequently view. The idea behind the Explore page is to expose you to content similar to what you enjoy, but that you do not already follow. The more relevant content you produce on Instagram, the more likely you are to get on the Explore page. This is ideal for small business owners looking to share information about how they’re providing curbside service or adjusting their offerings because of the current pandemic stay-at-home orders.
Showcase Video Content with IGTV
While IGTV may not be new to Instagram, it’s much more complex than ever before. The IGTV feature enables users to upload whole videos, instead of the traditional limited-range videos. Now, this page can contain content ranging from one minute to one hour. Many small businesses and influencers have adapted this feature into their marketing or advertising because it is a quick and effective way to reach your audience. Users are also prompted to move from their Instagram feed to IGTV to watch complete videos, even though they can start watching them directly from their feed.
When using social media apps such as Instagram, these features are all great tools to expand your brand reach and connect with new fans. Top brands in the country have started to utilize social media for marketing and each has a different strategy in how they leverage the tool to provide valuable content to their audience.
Whether you use social media for personal or professional matters, it can be used as a tool and way to deal with the troubles we all face in a real, honest, different, and positive format. We may be spending more time in our houses and establishing new norms but that does not have to be negative. Share a post that may make someone smile, post a story of you and hobbies, or even a picture of your dog. Try focusing on the positives and remember to have fun, adapt to the changes, and #supportlocal.
If you or someone you know it looking for Instagram advice but doesn’t have the time or energy to set up a strategic plan, our team is happy to help. Get in touch with one of our Customer Happiness Heroes and get the ball rolling!