As a social media platform, Instagram has been continuously evolving and has put to bed some of its competitors (i.e. Instagram Stories leaving Snapchat Stories in the dust). It’s safe to say that the platform is no longer a parochial social media app but rather, it is an all-encompassing network with skyrocketing engagement levels.
What does this mean for businesses?
Simply having an Instagram account won’t cut it (let’s be honest, it never did). With more algorithm and app changes, users are enjoying every feature Instagram has to offer. Whether that’s IGTV, stories, sponsored posts, explore feed or shoppable content, your best bet as a business is to leverage the power of it all. Why? Because if your audience is hanging out on Instagram, chances are, they’re everywhere on the app. In other words, that’s all the different places you can have content and interact with your audience on a touchpoint basis. Additionally, being present across the varying pages shows that you care. Want proof of just how powerful Instagram is?
One billion accounts active every single month.
80% of users follow at least one business account.
500+ million accounts are views on Instagram Stories each day.
These stats are no joke. With just one mobile platform offering a gateway to incalculable amounts of users, amp up your engagement and conversion. Ready to utilise the power of all that Instagram has to offer?
With the app rolling out new features and beta testing others, here’s what we can expect in the near future.
1. More stories than posts
Although some accounts publish posts on a daily basis, we are seeing a shift in focus from the post grid to stories. Posts are becoming more curated, purposeful and aesthetic. They’re taking on an evergreen identity and leaving the real-time fun stuff for the stories. The reason is obvious: The engagement on stories, as stated above, is incredibly high. Posts are for information about a business. On the other hand, with interactive stickers and swipe-to-see-more links, stories are meant to be a keep-tabs-on-the-brand focus.
2. Shoppable influencers
Influencers on Instagram are still a big deal – and we reckon it’ll stay that way for a while. With the rise of the influencer still going strong, the app is placing more power in them. With fans flooding influencer DMs with questions like “where’d you get that?” on their OOTDs, Instagram recently announced they are rolling out a shoppable option for influencers. Users rely on and trust influencers to sort out the myriad of products and services of businesses to recommend honest brands. In light of this, the app is allowing influencers to tag products so that viewers can jump straight into the product pages of brands. Currently, the feature is open to a select few brands and influencers with more projected to be added on in the near future.
3. Ads in Explore Feed
Instagram is expanding its ads program to reach more than sponsored posts and stories on a user’s feed. The platform has introduced ads on the Explore tab on the app. With over 50% of accounts using the Explore feed every month, it’s a beehive of potential customers for brands. Users head to the explore tab to view trends and even accounts that are related to their interests but don’t already follow. Having ads across the Explore feed allows you, as a brand, to catch new users who may not have heard of your brand to visit your account and even head over to your website.
4. Stories with sound perform better
You may think that stories are most often viewed without sound, but Instagram has confirmed that 80% of stories with some form of sound, be it voice-overs or music, had driven better lower-funnel results than ads without sound. Instagram’s article on unlocking the potential on Instagram story ads can help your business create converting ads. The platform recommends quick-to-consume content on stories with a mix of static and motion creativity and strategically placed stickers and CTAs. With a plethora of apps that automate post publishing on social media, schedule Instagram stories so you’re always on top of the game.
5. Influencer posts as ads
Influencers put a heck of a lot of effort into their grid and collaboration posts with brands. With influencers doing the hard work for brands, it makes sense to showcase those posts. Instagram has rolled out a feature where brands can use influencer branded content as ads. It’s an organic way to celebrate the brand through the voice of the influencer. It promotes higher engagement with the influencer’s followers. The feature was introduced earlier in June this year and is being rolled across stories, as well.
6. Stickers on Stories
With over 60% of business accounts using interactive elements on their stories, it’s easy to see that they work. Whether that’s a poll, @mention or hashtag, viewers spend longer on a story if there’s something they can do on it – i.e. an interaction. Not only are you inviting users to engage with your content better, but you can also understand your audience a little better. For instance, if you’re an e-commerce store, wondering which pattern your customers would prefer better on a new collection, why not post it on stories and let them take a vote?
7. Real people over Models
Although authenticity was so 2000-late, users, regardless of the size of their following, are calling out brands who aren’t taking a representative stand on the use of models. Successful brands like ThirdLove and IKEA have used an inclusive range of people to represent their story and users are all for it. Whether brands represent transgender people, plus size women, disabled or anyone else, it is a nod to their inclusivity.
IGTV is not a new addition but Instagram is puffing out new features on it that rival the newest social media trend: TikTok. Now, IGTV is mirroring its competitor not just with the look and feel of the interface but how users interact with it, as well. Instagram is also encouraging more users to explore IGTV by having one-minute snippets on the feed that direct a user to the IGTV tab to continue with the video. As such, users are increasingly browsing on the tab and brands would be wise to start posting their content on it, as well.
9. Subtitles on videos
Although users are leaning towards interacting and engaging with video with sound, if you’re commuting or at the office, you would browse videos on mute. Having subtitles in your videos or text intertitles can help viewers gauge the intent of the video no matter your viewer’s environment.
9. Cross Tab Integration
Although IGTV, stories and posts are hosted on one platform, brands don’t have to separate the content. With IGTV snippets on the home feed to brands storying new grid posts, use a seamless connection between all tabs to create a holistic theme and interaction of your brand.
11. Shopping on Explore
Shoppable content is not just limited to posts but you can now have it on an entirely new tab on the explore feed. Instagram will feature a whole feed of shoppable content based on the interests and app behaviour of users. This creates a more relevant and catered shopping experience for consumers and helps brands showcase their products to those who have a genuine intent to browse and purchase.
12. Tweets on Instagram
When you think it couldn’t get any more powerful, think again. Meme pages have (for years) been cropping tweets onto Instagram-sized templates and posting on their account (think: 9gag, Betches, etc). Watch out for big (and small) accounts copy-pasting tweets on to Instagram-friendly posts or stories. This is another nod to seamless flows between social media channels and a great way to interlace all your channels into one cohesive voice.
13. Stickers over likes
We’ve already mentioned stickers as a choice option to understand your audience better, but now that Instagram has eliminated the likes on posts, engagement is gauged by actual interaction of audience through stories, link clicks and taps. With stickers exploding in popularity, we can expect to see more of them coming in the later months of 2019 and on to 2020, as well. The countdown sticker was taken up by a storm and helped businesses pique interest on product launches and other releases. We can expect brand-specific stickers to pop up later in the year.
14. Instagram Direct everywhere
Instagram has made it easier to strike up a conversation across the platform. From the OG options like commenting to newer ones such as the react features on stories, it’s easier than ever to connect to someone. Instagram Direct is quickly becoming a place to chat. Although WhatsApp and Messenger are still powering on as more common chat platforms, Instagram Direct isn’t far behind. This also means that businesses can directly interact and converse with followers and take a step closer to them.
15. Nano Influencers
Influencers have been a thing on Instagram for a while, but nano influencers are making a breakthrough. These are accounts with a following ranging from 1,000 to about 10,000. These are a stark contrast to accounts north of a million followers but the novelty in nano influencers lay in its authenticity. As we mentioned previously, authenticity is the driving factor in the business of influencer marketing and smaller accounts are likely to project a more genuine opinion that followers will trust. If you’re a business looking to leverage influencer marketing, consider adding some nano influencers into the mix, as well.
Get the help from expert Instagram advertising agency Melbourne
Instagram is continuing to become a popular platform for businesses. With disarmingly strong numbers underpinning its success, the ROI can be fruitful if you use it effectively. If you’re looking to boost your efforts on Instagram and see the success pouring in, get in touch with the experts on Instagram advertising Melbourne. The team at Digital Squad can help you set up Instagram ads that convert and keep your followers engaged with your content.
Looking for more? Talk to the experts at Digital Squad, your digital marketing agency Melbourne. If you’re in the market for more than social media marketing Melbourne, talk to us about how we can help you get set up on Google Shopping Melbourne, Bing ads and Google display network ads and how you can have a winning strategy on digital.