If Instagram is part of your social media strategy, it’s essential to keep up with the frequent updates and changes to the platform. Instagram Stories are an especially dynamic feature which should be of interest to anyone who wants to maximize engagement. Instagram has recently introduced some new features that can help you improve your results.
Reply to Stories with GIFs
One of the most useful features Instagram has recently added is the ability to reply to Stories with GIFs from the large Giphy library. Giphy has close to a billion GIFs, so you and your followers can express any possible emotion or situation imaginable. Instagram is an extremely image-centered platform and many users prefer to communicate with visual elements than text. Allowing people to easily respond with GIFs may increase engagement. You can encourage this by posting your own GIFs in your Stories.
Music Stickers and Reels
If there’s one type of content that rivals images in popularity it’s music. With music stickers, users can now give their Stories more personality and appeal. It’s even possible to post song lyrics along with the song. Music stickers can add another dimension to Stories, making them more like professional videos.
Music stickers are significant because they give everyone, including businesses, the ability to use popular music freely and legally. By comparison, big brands used to pay large sums to acquire the rights to music. If you have a young and hip following you can obtain music from local bands or popular on college radio stations.
Reels are another musical feature, in this case, borrowed from Instagram’s Chinese rival TikTok. Reels let users create 15-second videos set to music, with access to a large library of tunes. So far this is a limited feature being gradually rolled out in certain countries so it may not be available where you are yet. Music provides another powerful way to engage with followers.
Instagram is making it easier for nonprofits and charities to raise money. Nonprofits can now put up stickers in their Stories so that followers can donate. Businesses can use this feature by organizing a fundraiser for a cause you and your customers support. Many successful companies, such as Toms, Patagonia and Warby Parker have made donating and social responsibility a core part of their brands.
The power of augmented reality is now accessible to all Instagram users. You and your followers can use a variety of AR face filters in your posts and Stories. This opens up all kinds of creative possibilities for your Stories. However, AR filters have applications beyond simply creating funny or bizarre faces. For example, fashion and cosmetic companies can give customers a realistic picture of how their products will look when worn or applied.
Close Friends Lists
Facebook and Instagram have long made it possible to divide your friend’s list into close friends as opposed to just “ordinary” friends. You can now do this with Instagram Stories as well. While this feature is, on the surface, for helping users decide who they want to share private moments with, businesses can also make use of it.
You can use the Close Friends function as a way to segment your Stories, the way you might on an email list. Your Close Friends are a kind of VIP list, with whom you can share special updates and promotions. You can also decide to make Close Friends people who live in a certain region or use any criteria that serves your purposes. You can, of course, change up who is on your Close Friends list and users will never know.
Shoppable Tags for Influencers
Instagram actually created Shoppable Tags for Stories in 2019 but has recently added some features. Adding Shoppable Tags allows influencers to sell products directly from Stories. To be able to use this feature, an influencer must have at least 10,000 followers or a verified profile. This is something that you can leverage as a business if you find an influencer to work with who can then sell your products directly from their Stories. As with any type of influencer campaign, it’s necessary to find someone who’s a good match for your brand and who can create content that your customers will appreciate.
Guidelines to Get the Most Out of Instagram Stories
Stories are constantly evolving. As more people use them, there’s also greater competition. The above are some features that will make your Stories stand out, and here are some additional tips to help you get more visibility and engagement:
- Use hashtags strategically. Instagram allows up to 30 hashtags per post and 10 per Story. This doesn’t mean, however, that you should use that many. Use hashtags that are relevant based on interest or location. One trick you can use is to hide your Story hashtags by using a background color that matches the hashtag. This way, people won’t see the hashtag but they can still help you attract more viewers.
- Remove inactive followers. Inactive followers, which may include bot accounts, lower your overall engagement. If Instagram’s algorithm shows that people aren’t interested in your content, even fewer people may see your posts and Stories in the future. That’s why it can help to remove followers who aren’t engaging with you. You can remove followers manually or use an app such as Cleaner for IG to automate the task.
- Make your Stories interactive. A simple way to entice followers to engage with you is to post a poll to your Story. It’s easy to do this as Instagram provides poll stickers as well as quiz and question stickers you can use. The poll can be a serious attempt to obtain data or just a fun way to get feedback.
- Use features to build your brand. With so many options, such as GIFs, filters and music it can be tempting to overload your Stories with features. Keep in mind that you should use images and music that are consistent with your brand and that don’t distract from your messages and calls-to-action.