Over the past five years, Instagram has emerged as one of the key social media channels for brand promotion, with more and more people now turning to the app for inspiration, discovery, and increasingly, direct purchase options.
That means that, for many brands, Instagram is now a key consideration – but maximizing your Instagram presence can be challenging, with the rising battle for attention in the app making it more difficult to stand out, attract new followers, and boost your messaging.
So what are the best ways to approach Instagram marketing in 2021, and how can you improve your posting strategy and presence?
To glean more insight on this, we recently spoke to Emily Reid, the Product Marketing Lead for Small Businesses at Instagram, to get her tips on some of the key elements of Instagram posting and promotion.
Q. What ad/promotional elements are seeing best response on Instagram right now?
ER: Each surface on Instagram can help you do something different, and when put together, we see businesses building communities of loyal customers.
One of the benefits of using Instagram is the various surfaces, through which you can reach your fans, community and customers in different ways. You can use Reels to create short, entertaining videos, and increase the chance of your brand being discovered by people that don’t follow you. You can use Stories to connect with your audience in different ways, from showcasing behind the scene clips to polling your followers, and interacting with them to get a better understanding of what they’d like to see.
We recommend experimenting as much as possible to find that sweet spot. Things that end up becoming hits are often the result of businesses and creators riffing and trying out new things.
Q: What’s the key to an effective Instagram marketing strategy?
ER: Today, over 90% of people follow a business on Instagram. People come to Instagram to be inspired and discover things that they care about, which includes content from brands – so businesses should use this to their advantage.
Our biggest tip is to experiment! Try using the different surfaces and free tools on Instagram to connect with and build an audience, whether that’s using stories to show behind the scenes, Instagram Live to have a conversation or tools like Shopping tags to drive direct sales.
With the shifting trend towards eCommerce, we recently added a new Shop tab in the main navigation bar, so in one tap, people can shop the latest trends from creators and brands on Instagram Shop. We also introduced shopping on Reels and IGTV to give people the ability to shop at the moment of inspiration. Businesses should use these tools to drive product sales directly.
Q: What are some good examples of brands that are achieving strong results with Instagram marketing?
ER: @halfdays – A small DTC brand started by an Olympic skier who had a hard time finding proper fitting ski apparel designed and made for women, by women.
As founder Kiley McKinnon explains, “A lot of skiwear brands use the ‘shrink it and pink it’ method – take men’s gear, make it smaller and add something like a floral pattern.” Rather than shrinking and pinking, the team looks to their own closets for inspiration, with the result being minimalist pieces in neutral shades and inclusive sizes.
@HillHouse – A woman-owned small business behind the Nap Dress that was everywhere on Instagram this last year.
@ultraviolet.nyc – A small, black woman-owned shop specializing in handmade jewelry. Instagram has helped her build awareness and reach customers that love her work who otherwise may not have found her.
Q: What would be your top tip for someone starting out with Instagram ads?
ER: We’ve made it simple for small businesses to advertise on Instagram directly within the app using our Promote feature. We know that small businesses are often short on time and resources. Our ad options are designed to help them easily reach an audience that we think may be interested in their products or services.
We encourage businesses to try to think like a creator when producing ads – be scrappy, experimental and take inspiration from trending content and effects on the platform.
Instagram Is Rolling Out Reels Replies, And Will Be Testing A New Feature Which Informs …
Instagram has added a few more social features to the platform, with Reels Replies being rolled out. Along with the Replies, anew feature is being tested that shows when two users are active together in the same chat.
Reels has been performing much better than perhaps even Instagram ever anticipated. The TikTok-inspired new video format (which officially claims to have absolutely no relation to the former) had some trouble really finding its footing initially. However, Reels has grown massively and while it may not be a source of the most direct competition to TikTok, it is indeed a worthy alternative.
Reels has grown to the point that it has a massive creator program attached to it, and the video format has even been migrated to Facebook with the goal of generating further user interest there. Naturally, with such a successful virtual goldmine on its hands, Instagram has been hard at work developing new features and interface updates for Reels, integrating it more and more seamlessly into the rest of the social media platform. Features such as Reels Replies are a major part of such attempts at integration.
Reels Visual Replies are essentially just what they sound like: A Reel that is being used to reply to someone. It’s a feature that’s been seen frequently across TikTok as well. Reel Replies essentially take a user’s comments, and reply to them in video format. The comment will then show up within the Reel itself as a text-box, taking up some amount of space, and showing both the user who issued said comment along with the text. The text-box is apparently adjustable, with users having the ability to move it around and change its size depending on where it obstructs one’s Reel the least.
Overall, it’s a fun addition to the Reels format, even if the credit should be going to TikTok first. At any rate, it’s an example of Instagram really utilizing Reels’ social media capabilities, outside of just serving it up as a form of entertainment.
Speaking of social media capabilities, a new feature might help alleviate one of the most common frustrations encountered across all such platforms. Isn’t it annoying when you see that a friend’s online, but isn’t replying to your chat? Sure, they’ve probably just put their phone down to run a quick errand, but there’s no way for you to know, right? Well, there sort of is now! Instagram is beta testing a new feature via which if both users are active within a chat, the platform will display that accordingly. It’s a work-around, sure, and one that’s currently being tested for usefulness, but it’s still a very nice, and even fresh, addition to the social media game.
— Yash Joshi (@MeYashjoshi) December 10, 2021
5 apps for scheduling Instagram posts on iPhone and Android
Alright, we get it. You’re an Instagram Nostradamus.
You know exactly what you want to post and when you’re gonna want to post it. Maybe there’s a meme or comment you want to make that you know will be totally relevant for a future moment or event. Or it could be that you’re an influencer and you want to make sure you keep a steady stream of content coming, so you want to schedule posts for times when you know you won’t be active (or won’t have internet access).
You’ll be happy to know there are apps that are specialized for just such situations. So listen up, InstaNostradamuses…Instagrostra…Instadam…Insta…uh…you guys (we’ll workshop it. No we won’t. We’ll probably just abandon that effort completely. You’re welcome) — these are the Instagram-post-scheduling apps for you.
While all of the iPhone apps below are free to download, they all have some in-app purchases.
We’ll start with “official partner” of Instagram, itself, Planoly — an Instaplanner that uses a grid to let you plan, schedule, and publish posts (as well as Reels) on Instagram. The app also lets you see post metrics and analytics so you can make sure your post didn’t flop.
Credit: buffer / app store
Buffer is another Instagram post scheduler that helps you plan your posts and analyze feedback once they’re published. Use a calendar view to drag and drop posts into days/time slots for easy scheduling.
Credit: preview / app store
Preview offers typical post-scheduling tools and analytics along with a few helpful extras. Get caption ideas, recommendations for hashtags, and more.
Credit: content office / app store
An Instagram post scheduler with a visual boost, Content Office allows users to plan and schedule Instagram posts while learning “marketing and visual guides to grow your brand on Instagram.” Like aesthetics and using visuals to create cohesive themes? Maybe this is the Instaplanner for you.
Content Office is available for iOS on the Apple App Store.
Credit: plann / apple store
You’ll never guess what “Plann” lets you do…
Aside from scheduling posts, get content ideas and recommendations, as well as strategy tips to ensure you’re maximizing your Instagram engagement. Ever wonder when the best time to post something is? Plann can offer you some help with that.
Social networking websites launch features to encourage users to get boosters
From Friday, users will be able to update their profiles with frames or stickers to show that they have had their top-up jab or aim to when they become eligible.
It follows on from people previously being able to show they have had their first and second jabs on certain social networking websites and apps.
TikTok also held a “grab a jab” event in London earlier this year.
I urge everyone who is eligible – don’t delay, get your vaccine or top up jab today to protect yourself and your loved ones
More than 16 million booster vaccines have now been given across the UK.
People who are aged 40 and above and received their second dose of their vaccine at least six months ago are currently eligible to have their booster.
A new campaign advert is also being launched on Friday, which shows how Covid-19 can build up in enclosed spaces and how to prevent that from happening.
Vaccines minister Maggie Throup said: “Getting your booster is one of the most important things you can do to protect yourself and your family this winter.
“It is fantastic to see some of the biggest household names further back the phenomenal vaccine rollout, allowing their users to proudly display that they have played their part in helping us build a wall of defence across the country.
“I urge everyone who is eligible – don’t delay, get your vaccine or top-up jab today to protect yourself and your loved ones.”