2 ways to harness new Instagram tools and features

Savvy PR and marketing pros can combine Instagram’s appeal and its new offerings to boost content and foster thriving online communities. Consider these fundamental takeaways.

Visuals and videos are becoming more and more important for PR and marketing efforts—and Instagram is a leading platform in that trend.

Instagram’s chief recently announced content creators could add videos up to one hour through a new feature called IGTV. He also offered eye-opening statistics for brand managers looking to attract consumers’ attention.

Marketing Land reported:

“I have some really big news — the big news is that we are now a global community of a billion monthly actives on Instagram,” said Instagram CEO Kevin Kevin Systrom at the start of the IGTV event. From there the CEO launched into details around Instagram’s new IGTV platform, offering up a variety of stats around video consumption on the platform.

“On Instagram, people are watching 60 percent more video than they did just last year,” said Systrom.” An entirely new category of video now exists, and it’s being made by creators. Teens may be watching less TV, but they’re watching more creators online.”

Since the launch of IGTV, the app also added the ability to add soundtracks to Instagram Stories—and just announced that users could soon add multiple-choice polls to their Stories.

Marketing Land reported:

Currently, the Facebook-owned app lets users post polls with multiple-choice answers. Users also have the option to direct message someone in response to a Story. By allowing open-ended questions within a Story, Instagram is aiming to create more engagement between users and is opening the door for brands and influencers to enable more public conversations with their followers.

An Instagram spokesperson did confirm the app is testing the feature but could not give any further details. A user first tipped Android Police about the latest feature last week, and TechCrunch reports users in Indonesia and Spain have been able to add open-ended questions to their Stories.

The features are geared toward boosting Stories, which is an important section in which PR and marketing managers will want to pay attention. That’s in part due to another feature Instagram revealed, which lets users know when they’ve seen every new post in their main Instagram timelines. The feature is similar to Facebook’s tool that lets users know how much is being spent on theplatform.

The Verge reported:

Since Instagram’s algorithmic, out-of-order timeline is a mystery to all humankind, the company has rolled out a new feature that will let you know when you’ve scrolled through all new posts from the last 48 hours. When you come across it, you’ll see a big green checkmark and a message saying “you’re all caught up.” Beyond the line break will be posts that have been up for longer than two days mixed with more recent ones you’ve already seen and scrolled past.

Business Insider research associate Kevin Tran wrote that the feature might cause users to exit the app:

A cue to stop scrolling could reduce time spent on the platform for some users, meaning that in-feed ads could reach fewer eyeballs and become less valuable.

However, Tran also wrote that the feature could increase users’ visits to other sections of Instagram, including its Stories tab:

And so even if in-feed ads lose eyeballs, brands could see gains in other places, like an uptick in viewership of Stories. Instagram Stories in June hit 400 million daily users, up from 300 million in November, and “You’re All Caught Up” messages could contribute to Stories’ recent momentum.

Here’s how PR and marketing pros can harness the power of these new features for increased engagement and brand recognition on Instagram:

1. Turn to Instagram Stories.

Consistency and frequency are important elements to any effective social media strategy, but with Instagram’s timeline algorithm and a sea of content, your images and videos can easily get lost in the noise.

Tran wrote:

Posting frequently might help brands rank higher in some users’ feeds as Instagram rolls out its new feature. Recency is a main factor that determines how Instagram algorithmically sorts the posts users see in their feed. Brands might be able to take advantage of this by posting several times a day or ramping up frequency, especially because Instagram doesn’t downrank accounts for posting too frequently.

Enter Instagram Stories. PR and marketing managers can post here more feasibly (Stories are often less polished than images and videos within the main timeline), offering followers behind-the-scenes peeks at their organizations or interactive, helpful content such as questions and updates.

All of these recent features, including soundtracks and multiple-choice polls, are available within the Stories tab. Use them to make your content even more appealing.

2. Research and refine your strategies.

Your Instagram content—whether on users’ timeline or within Stories—should offer your audience something of value, such as information catered to their needs, entertaining anecdotes and chances to be featured on your profile.

Above all, your content should put your followers first. Save the hard sales pitches and promotional materials for your newsletters. So, how can you find out what your followers truly want?

Employ the help of a social listening platform and see what conversations consumers are having. Measure which posts do well and which fall short of your goals and objectives. Check out what your competitors are doing, and use keywords and hashtags to increase your visibility on Instagram.

As you uncover trends and consumer behavior, be willing to tweak your tactics and messaging, and be open to other ideas and directions. This can be seen in savvy hashtag use (a quick and easy way to boost your visibility on Instagram):

Andy Day wrote on Fstoppers.com:

In terms of selection, it comes down to choosing the right balance between relevance and specificity. It might seem like a good idea simply to pick the most popular hashtags, but this can mean being lost in a sea of millions of images, reducing the odds of people encountering your work. By contrast, if you choose something too obscure, it won’t have a broad enough reach and you encounter the same problem but from the other direction.

If you are a travel photographer, you might assume that #travel is an obvious hashtag to use. However, you will be competing with almost 300 million other images, making the chances of discovery fairly slim. By contrast, #travelblogger has only 22 million images which is both more relevant to a travel photographer and has a much smaller pool of content.

What additional takeaways would you add, PR Daily readers?

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