Instagram is becoming an increasingly important tool for marketers and influencers. The number of monthly active users is more than 1 billion, and they upload over 100 million photos and videos every day, according to Omnicore. For regular users, that means a steady stream of diverse and exciting content, while for marketers it means a massive potential to promote a brand. However, the huge amount of content on the platform means it’s increasingly difficult to make Instagram marketing stand out. Now, more than ever before, it’s essential to know every feature the platform offers that may grant you an advantage.
On the surface, Instagram seems like a very simple platform to use: Take a photo, select to add it to your feed, set a filter, add a comment and post. However, the platform is rich with features, and even people who have used Instagram for years may not be aware of all the functionality available. Take the time to learn some of the lesser-known features to help take your Instagram marketing to the next level.
1. Features to Build Your Brand
For influencers and marketers, Instagram is a golden opportunity to build a brand. There are many features available to enhance your profile and ensure your posts look great while finding a wide audience.
Using the Right Type of Account:
Instagram offers three different types of account. In addition to the personal user account type, there are options for businesses and influencers. If you convert a personal or business account into a creator account, you gain access to tools for measuring engagement and growth.
To convert your account, open the menu from your profile page by tapping the three lines in the top right corner and then select “Account.” If you have a personal account, select “Switch to Professional Account” and then select “Creator.” If you have a business account, select “Switch to Creator Account.” To complete the account migration, add any other information, such as contact details and the category that best describes your field of expertise. The same process lets you switch from a personal account to a business account, or to switch back to a personal account.
Making Your Bio Stand Out:
Your account bio is your calling card. It needs to be succinct and snappy, providing all the key information so visitors know what you do and why they should care. You don’t get a lot of space to shine in the bio, so take advantage of every single character by using these features:
- Make your bio more searchable: Your name field is searchable. If you edit it to include some valuable keywords, there’s an increased chance of your page appearing in search results.
- Clickable link: Instagram lets you put a single clickable link in your profile. Make use of this feature so visitors have the ability to hop across to your business page, web store or blog.
- Multi-link: A single clickable link may not be enough if you have several target locations to funnel your visitors. In this case, it’s possible to use a multi-link. Instagram doesn’t have a function for this, but several third-party services provide a single link that takes visitors to a list of your target locations. From here, your visitors select the specific link that meets their requirements.
- Hashtags: Instagram lets you add hashtags to your bio. This is very useful if you’re trying to establish a brand hashtag for your customers to use on their own content. When someone taps a hashtag in your bio, Instagram directs them to a feed containing all content relating to that particular tag. This provides another way for visitors to explore your brand and engage with the related content.
- Mentions: In addition to hashtags, you have the option to add mentions in your bio. These are very useful if you have been partnering with influencers and you want to make visitors aware of your most recent collaborations.
- Link breaks in your bio text: The Instagram bio editor doesn’t let you add line breaks with the return key when typing. However, if you paste your text into the editor from a text message or note, the editor recognizes any line breaks and applies them. Use this feature to make your bio more readable. It’s also possible to use this method to paste special symbols into your bio text.
Link Your Account to Facebook:
If you have a Facebook page, try linking it to your Instagram account. Whenever you post new content to Instagram, the same content appears on your Facebook timeline. This is a useful way to improve the reach of each new post. However, you need to be careful not to use content that’s specific to only one platform, such as Instagram-based hashtags.
To link your Facebook account, access the menu from within your Instagram profile page. Select “Settings,” “Account” and then “Linked accounts.” From this screen, it’s possible to link Instagram to Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and other social media accounts. Just select the relevant platform and complete your log-in details. Once you’ve linked a Facebook account to Instagram, you have three options:
- Share to: Specify a specific page where you want to share your Instagram content. This is likely to be your business page.
- Share your Story: If you select this option, when you post a new Story in the Stories feature, it automatically appears on Facebook.
- Share your posts: If you select this option, when you create a new Instagram post, it automatically appears on Facebook.
Hashtags are vital for improving post visibility. Users have the option to search for specific hashtags or follow hashtags to populate their feed with content from different creators. Instagram lets you add 30 hashtags on every post, so you have plenty of opportunity to extend a post’s reach. The important thing is to choose hashtags that target the right audience. Many programs are available to help you select the best hashtags for your marketing goals, but it’s also possible to use Instagram’s own features:
Open the search function in the Instagram app, select to search for tags and then enter a short keyword. Instagram suggests a list of tags that include your search text, along with the number of posts that have used that tag.
For example, you may want to use the hashtag #game. As you start to type this in the search engine, the app makes numerous suggestions starting with the same letters. Suggestions include #gaming (over 35.3 million posts) and #gamer (over 31.4 million posts).
This feature helps you to come up with keyword suggestions you may not otherwise have thought of. It also helps you to establish which keywords are popular.
If you tap a hashtag, Instagram takes you to a feed populated by content using that tag. Along the top of the feed is a selection of “related” hashtags. These are all tags that Instagram has identified as relating to the tag you already selected, even if they use different words. For example, if you visit the #game feed, related hashtags include #gameplay, #bestgame, #programer, #players and #xbox360.
Essentially, Instagram is identifying that people who search for your chosen keyword may also be interested in (and potentially following) some of the related hashtags. This is a particularly useful feature for identifying your audience and finding new keywords.
Filtering Instagram Comments:
When you’re trying to build a family-friendly brand, you don’t really want abusive or offensive comments on your posts. As your brand grows and you have more work to do, it isn’t easy to manually go through comments and delete the negative ones. Instagram has filtering options to help you stay on top of the comments and ensure your comments section is a safe space for everyone.
To switch on Instagram’s automatic filtering system, access the menu from your profile page. Tap “Settings,” “Privacy” and then “Comments.” Tap the “Hide Offensive Comments” toggle to activate the filter. This feature uses Instagram’s own list of “banned” words to police the comments. If you have other words and phrases you would like to block, use the “Manual Filter” option.
Using Multiple Accounts:
If you’re trying to build a brand, you may be running several Instagram accounts concurrently. For example, you may have a personal account, an account for your business and then one for each of your product lines. Managing that many social media accounts takes up time, especially if you have to keep switching between accounts to make several posts a day. Fortunately, Instagram makes it easy to use several accounts on a single device.
Open the Instagram app on the device you use and select the menu option from your profile page. Select “Add Account.” Add the details of your other accounts or create new ones as required.
2. Features to Improve Your Posts
As of January 2020, users have shared over 50 billion photographs on Instagram, according to Omnicore. Users have access to a constantly changing stream of content, and competition has never been fiercer. Every piece of content you publish should grab attention and engage audiences. To this end, it helps to know a few tips to improve your posts.
Instagram makes it easy to snap a photograph, apply a filter and upload it for the world to see. This convenience means many people don’t make use of the readily available editing tools within the app, even though they’re not a hidden feature. If you’re trying to make the best Instagram feed possible, it’s worth spending a little more time exploring the editing options available.
When you add a post, at the point you select an image, the “Filters” tab in the editor is the default option. To bypass filters and apply your own editing techniques, select the “Edit” option from the bottom of the screen. This opens a range of options to experiment with, including brightness, contrast, structure, warmth, saturation, color for shadows and highlights and tilt shift.
Not sure what these options do? Just select an image and then try a few different editing techniques. You may hit upon something you really like the look of. There’s also plenty of advice online for professionally editing your posts.
While doing your own image editing often yields the best results, sometimes it just isn’t possible to invest the time. In those situations, Instagram’s filters are a suitable substitute. However, you don’t have to settle for “Clarendon” or “Gingham.” Scroll all the way to the end of the list of available filters and tap “Manage” to access even more options.
Carefully chosen hashtags improve your brand reach and visibility. But if you use lots of them, they may make post descriptions look cluttered. There are two simple ways to reduce this concern.
Hide tags in the comments:
You don’t have to put your hashtags in your post description. Instead, post your content with a simple description. Once the content is live, create a comment and add your hashtags there.
Hide tags below the description:
It’s possible to separate hashtags from your post description by using line breaks. At the end of your caption, tap the “123” key and then tap “Return.” Enter a dash and then repeat the process several more times to create a gap. Instagram automatically truncates long post descriptions. If the gap is large enough, your hashtags won’t be visible.
3. Features to Get the Most Out of Instagram Stories
Instagram Stories is an exciting feature that revolutionized the way many people used the social media platform, especially influencers. The feature lets you post photographs or short videos in a slideshow that disappears after 24 hours. It’s possible to create an ever-changing diary of your events, and this offers a wealth of benefits for building a brand and driving engagement:
- Ephemeral content: Anything you post is only visible for 24 hours. This encourages your fans to regularly check in so they don’t miss out. The people who see the content feel like they’ve been involved in something special, and this promotes a sense of community and brand loyalty.
- Instantaneous content: Sharing videos that grant a behind-the-scenes look at what you’re doing is quick and easy. No matter where you are or what you’re doing, you have an opportunity to engage.
- Authentic content: There is less focus on getting “perfect” Instagram pictures and more on providing authentic, instant content. This means you don’t have to spend much time editing and enhancing stories. You just need to capture the moments you think fans will enjoy.
Stories was an instant hit, acquiring 250 million daily active users within its first year, according to Facebook. However, despite this popularity, there are still some creators and marketers who aren’t using it to engage with their audiences. Even those who are using it may not be aware of some of the functionality that makes it possible for videos and images to stand out.
Instagram’s co-founder, Kevin Systrom, has suggested that Stories is almost as important as Instagram’s main feed. The feature has increased the amount of time people spend on Instagram to 28 minutes, according to Mediakix. This popularity makes it clear that marketers and influencers should use Stories as much as possible.
Everybody with an Instagram account has the option to add Stories. The process is very simple:
- Access the Stories feature: Open the Instagram app and select the camera icon in the top left of the screen.
- Select Story content: Take a photograph for your Story. Alternatively, swipe up to access the videos and photographs in your library and tap the content you want to use.
- Post your Story: When you’re ready, tap the “+ Story” button at the bottom of the screen. Your Story is immediately live.
Adding Story Links:
Instagram Story links provide exciting opportunities to drive engagement with your fans. A link of your choosing appears at the bottom of each Story as a “see more” option. When users swipe up on this option, they open the link, accessing your home page, web store or social media page. This has numerous applications and benefits, including:
- Driving traffic: Instagram only allows one clickable link in your account bio, and it isn’t possible to put clickable links in post descriptions. Story links let you embed a link directly into your content. You don’t need to direct users to your profile, or hope they remember to check out your blog later. Instead, it’s possible to provide them with immediate access to your other sites.
- Increasing sales: Links transform an Instagram Story into an interactive advertisement with a portal to your web store. Viewers see your advertisement, and then by swiping up they gain immediate access to your store to make a purchase. This encourages sales by making it simple for visitors to purchase while the idea is still fresh in their minds. Even if you just direct users to a registration page for your newsletter, you increase the chance of capturing important data.
- Gathering marketing data: Good marketing campaigns are data-driven projects. At the start of your campaign, establish your key performance indicators and then use those indicators to measure your success. By tracking the number of people swiping up on a Story, you have valuable data to shape your future marketing.
- Strengthening connections with influencers: Working with influencers opens many opportunities for marketers. Story links have the potential to strengthen connections and build better relationships for long-term benefits. For example, if you track visitor swipes, you can determine the engagement level of an influencer-based Story. Then, you can decide whether to collaborate with that influencer more frequently. It’s also possible to make links that direct a visitor to other collaborations with that same influencer.
- Promotions: If you regularly run promotions, such as sales and special discounts, it’s possible to run advertisements as Stories and combine them with a link. This is useful for encouraging click-through rates and tracking the success of the promotions.
While everybody has access to Stories, you may not have access to the link feature. You’re eligible if you:
- A. Have a verified account, or
- B. Have a business account with over 10,000 followers
If you’re eligible, you can easily add a Story link when you create your Story. After you tap the camera icon to access the Stories feature and select your content, tap the chain icon at the top of the screen. Select “+ URL” and then type in the URL you want to direct viewers to when they swipe up on your content. Finally, tap “Done.” If possible, use a link that tracks clicks to help you analyze the success of your marketing.
Adding a Call-to-Action:
You put a lot of time and effort into attracting people to visit your social media account. But, after they view content, many viewers click away to find something else that interests them. It’s up to you to keep them engaged. A call-to-action (CTA) is a simple instruction that encourages visitors to stick around and interact.
It’s very easy to edit Stories to include a CTA. Select your content and tap the “Aa” icon in the top right of the screen. Enter your text, select a color and then tap “Done.” It’s possible to resize and reposition the text within the Story using pinching and dragging movements.
A CTA works particularly well in conjunction with the Links feature. Use a clear, well-worded CTA to draw a viewer’s attention to the fact more information is at his or her fingertips. Consider these CTAs to enhance your Story and highlight the interactive link:
- Find your local store: Swipe up
- Interested to know more? Swipe up
- Swipe up to learn more
- Swipe up to read more on our blog
- Want cool merch? Swipe up for our store
Uploading Different Media:
The most common Instagram Stories feature photographs that display for five seconds or videos up to 15 seconds long. If neither of these options are suitable for your needs, there are other options available:
- Upload a blank image: If you want to share a simple update or CTA, having an image behind your text may be distracting. It’s easy to resolve this by layering your text over a solid background color. First, open any image from your library in the Stories editor. Select the drawing (squiggly line) icon from the top of the screen to open the pen options and select a pen color. Press and hold anywhere on the image for three seconds to completely fill the image with your chosen color.
- Upload longer videos: Sometimes a 15-second video isn’t long enough to make your message heard. Fortunately, if your video is up to a minute long the Stories feature automatically breaks it into a maximum of four 15-second sections. It’s possible to edit each of these sections individually, if you need to. When you’re ready, tap “Next” to upload all of the videos in a sequence that plays seamlessly as though they’re a single video. If your video is more than a minute long, then you need to manually cut it into small sections using a suitable app.
- Upload live photos: On iOS, the live photos feature captures three seconds of video when you take a picture. It’s possible to use this to create a boomerang in Instagram Stories. Open the Stories editor and select the live photo from your media library. Next, press and hold on the image until the word “Boomerang” appears. Continue editing and uploading the Story as normal to complete the process.
- Share someone else’s post: If you’ve been encouraging followers to make user-generated content, you may want to share some of it. To do this, open the content you want to share, tap the paper airplane icon and then select “Add Post to Your Story.”
Editing Stories Like a Pro:
So, you’ve got a cool video or photograph, you’ve added your link and put in a bold CTA. What else can you do to make your post as engaging as possible? Consider these cool tricks and tips for adding interest to your posts and ensuring your viewers keep coming back for more:
- Story stickers: Stickers are dynamic graphics that add some flair to your Stories. The stickers are accessible by tapping the “Sticker” option while editing the Story or simply swiping up. Some stickers are customizable, letting you add a hashtag, location or mention, while others are animated. Moving stickers are a good way to draw more attention to otherwise static images.
- Special effects: Much like stickers, special effects have the ability to draw the attention of viewers as they’re swiping through the Stories feed. To add a special effect, tap the option at the top of the screen that looks like a smiling face. Scroll through the available options and tap to select.
- Rainbow text: You have the option to change the color of each letter in any text or CTA you include. This is a laborious process, but fortunately, there’s a quick way to get the job done. First, select all of your text. Press and hold the left text handle with one thumb and hold the purple color spot from the color chart with the other thumb. Slowly slide your thumbs in opposite directions to change the color of each letter, creating a rainbow effect.
- Glowing emojis: As you’re writing text for your image, you have access to a wide range of emojis. If you want one to stand out a little more, it’s possible to give it a glowing effect. To do this, select the neon text type, and then select the emoji you want to use.
- Sneak peaks: Want to tease your fans about an upcoming product release? Upload your image, select the drawing option and then press and hold the image for three seconds to add a fill color. Next, select the eraser tool, and remove some of the fill color from areas of the image you want to reveal.
- Translucent overlays: Adding a translucent overlay involves a similar process to creating a teaser image. First, select the image you intend to use in the Stories editor. Select the drawing option from the top of the screen, then tap the highlighter option and select a color. When you press and hold the image for a few seconds, the highlighter adds a translucent layer.
- Frames: If you want an image to have a nice frame, it’s easy to do by using the text feature. Tap on the screen and type a single letter or digit, such as an “O.” Pinch and enlarge the letter until it fills the screen. You’ve created an instant frame for whatever image is underneath.
- Make pictures show for longer (option one): In Stories, static images show for around five seconds, while videos show for 15 seconds. If you want your photos to show for longer, you could use a third-party app to turn the photo into a video.
- Make pictures show for longer (option two): It’s possible to make pictures show for the same length of time as videos by adding some music from within the Stories feature. To do this, create your Story as normal. Then, from within the editor, swipe up to access the stickers. Select the music sticker, choose the music you want to use and crop the music to the required length.
- Add an extra image: If you want to overlay images, it’s easy to achieve this simply by pasting in an extra image. To do this, open your image library and find the right image. Tap the export function, and then select “Copy.” Next, open the Stories feature and select your main image. Double tap on the image and select “Paste” to drop in your second image.
- Hashtags: Visibility in a crowded market is essential, so it pays to include some hashtags in your Story. Add hashtags using the text feature or the customizable sticker. If you don’t want the hashtags to ruin your image, use a font color that matches your background. Alternatively, shrink your hashtags and put a sticker over the top.
Making Your Story Last:
Stories usually only last for 24 hours. The ephemeral nature of the content is one of the most compelling aspects of the feature. But it’s also something that may hamper the reach of a particular message. Here are several ways to make your Story last longer:
- Make a permanent entry on your Instagram profile: If your Story has been particularly successful, you may want to add it as a permanent post on your profile. To do this, open your Story and tap the three dots icon at the bottom of the screen. Select “Share as Post,” and then edit the post as normal.
- Archive your stories: While a Story may disappear from public view, it’s possible to save it for yourself. When a Story disappears, it automatically saves to your archive if you have the archive feature selected. To ensure you have the archive feature selected, select the menu from your profile page. Select “Settings, “Privacy” and then “Story.” Finally, check to see if the “Save to Archive” option is on.
- Create a highlight: It’s possible to pin Stories to your profile to make them viewable as highlights beyond 24 hours. To do this, open the Story and select the “Highlight” option from the bottom of the screen. It’s also possible to access your Story archive from your profile page and then select the media to highlight.
4. Features to Personalize Instagram
Instagram has more content than you could possibly view in a lifetime. It makes sense to personalize your online experience so you see more of what you want to see. This is useful for anyone using social media for fun. It’s even more useful for marketers who want to make the right connections and keep up to date with the latest trends.
Getting Post Notifications:
Selecting to follow someone, or follow a particular hashtag someone uses, doesn’t guarantee you see all new content from those sources. To make sure you never miss a post from your favorite creators, you need to activate post notifications. Here are two ways to achieve this:
- From a post: On any post from that creator, tap the three dots icon in the top right corner. From the menu, select “Turn on Post Notifications.”
- From a profile: Visit a creator’s profile and tap on the “Following” button. From the menu, select “Notifications” and then select which types of notifications you want to receive.
Modify Data Usage:
Instagram incorporates a data-saving mode for people who are on a data plan. When data saving is off, images preload for faster access. When data saving is on, images take longer to load, but you don’t burn through your data as quickly.
To access this feature, open the menu option from your profile page. Select “Settings,” “Account” and “Mobile data use.” Tap the “Use Less Data” toggle to switch the feature on or off.
Remove Tags from Photos:
Sometimes people tag you or your brand in their photographs. If this is something you would rather avoid, it’s possible to remove tags. Open the post where you’ve been tagged, tap the image and then select “Remove Me From Post.” You’ll also find an option that says “Hide From Profile,” which keeps the tags intact but hides the image from your profile’s tagged photos.
See Recently Liked Posts:
When you’re scrolling through your feed, it’s likely that you’re going to like many different images and videos. Liking helps Instagram to feed you more of the content you prefer, and it lets creators know if their content is being well-received. It’s also a good way to bookmark content, so you can return to it at a later date.
To find posts that you liked, click the menu option from your profile page. Select “Settings,” “Account” and then “Posts you’ve liked.” This displays 300 of the posts you most recently liked.
Clear Your Search History:
Like other search engines, Instagram remembers your search history. So, when you start typing a search term, Instagram draws on your history to auto-complete the search for you. Over time, it becomes much quicker and easier to run searches for commonly used keywords. However, as your interests change over time, you may decide you want to clear your search history.
Clearing the search history is very straightforward. From your profile page, select “Settings.” Tap “Security” and then tap “Clear Search History.”
Archive Old Posts:
Want to remove a post from your profile? It’s possible to delete posts, but if you do, they’re gone for good, along with any comments and engagement figures associated with them. To remove a post while preserving essential marketing data for future use, Instagram offers an archive system.
To archive a post, open the post, tap the three dots in the top right corner and then select “Archive.” To view your archived content, open the menu on your profile page, tap “Archive” and then tap “Posts.”
Mute Other Users:
It’s always possible to unfollow or even block other users if you don’t want to see their content. However, you may decide you don’t want the users to see you’ve unfollowed them. The solution is to use Instagram’s mute function.
To mute a user, press and hold that user’s profile image in the Stories bar at the top of your feed. After a few seconds, a pop-up appears containing a mute option. Tap on “Mute” and then select to mute the user’s Story or Story and posts.
Hide Your Online Status:
To hide your activity status, first open the menu from your profile page. Tap “Settings,” “Privacy” and then “Activity status.” Use the “Show activity status” toggle to determine whether your activity on the platform is public or private. Be aware that if you hide your activity status, you also lose the ability to view the activity status of other users.
In Conclusion: Finding Insta-success
For marketers and influencers, Instagram is a highly competitive arena. So, it’s essential to leverage every possible advantage to make more of an impact and stand out. The platform is constantly evolving to meet the demands of the growing user base. Even this article doesn’t cover all of the available features that form part of a large, powerful tool set for marketers and influencers.
It pays to follow new developments so you’re always at the cutting edge of the tech and one step ahead of the competition. When you know everything Instagram has to offer, Insta-success for your content marketing strategy is within your grasp.