Instagram is crucial to the growth of literally every business. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, whether you’re selling a product, or whether you’re providing a service (or even some hybrid of the two), social media presence is must have. As of November of 2017, Instagram reported a whopping 25 million business accounts on the platform, and an astonishing 800 million monthly active users (yes, you read that right – 800 million).
If you haven’t connected the dots yet, there’s a massive pool of people on Instagram and you should probably try to get your business in front of them. Simply having an Instagram presence increases brand awareness, helps you connect with your audience, and will humanize your brand (which is super important because people buy a personality, not products).
If you’re ready to make the most out of your Instagram strategy (and, if you read this far – you probably are) here are two rules you need to stick with:
1. Make your posts stand out.
2. Keep up with trends and competitors.
Instagram updates more frequently than the iPhone. In 2017 alone, the platform has been updated 74 times.
With twenty-one of those new updates popping up in the last 6 months and a whole load of them expected by the end of the year, you want to focus on the updates that actually matter to your business and growth.
1. Direct Scheduling and Posting Update
Finally! One of the most requested features is here. Now you can schedule your Instagram posts weeks ahead. Hassle free and incredibly efficient. You’ll no longer need to bombarded with notifications to copy the caption and then post. With Instagram Partners like Hootsuite, Buffer or Sprout Social, you literally set it and forget it.
Why is this update important?
Posting consistently means more engagement, and as a result – more followers.
“Brands that get into a regular flow with Instagram posts tend to see the best results.”- Buffer
It’s a known fact: when you post to Instagram more often, you get more likes, your Engagement Rate increases and Follower Growth Rate goes up. Ta-Da! (Don’t believe me? Check out this study by Tailwind).
2. Instagram Shopping Update
Since the world of digital has blossomed, window shopping has evolved – and even more since social. eMarketer states that over 84% of US smartphone users browse and research products on their phones. The typical Instagram user scrolls endlessly, (being exposed to new restaurants, shops, products, etc.) between 24 and 32 minutes per day, depending on their age.
All that exposure may be good for your brand, but you want sales, right?
How does this update work?
Business owners who feature their products on their account (which you should) or use influencer marketing understand the struggle. What’s more annoying than seeing an awesome outfit or a cool new gadget and not knowing the details, price or brand? Not being able to click a link in the caption.
Problem solved. Say hello to the Instagram “shopping” feature. That’s right, your potential customers can make a purchase directly through the platform. They don’t even need to leave the app. Ka-Ching.
Why do we love the shopping update?
So far, the conversion rates are favourable. Instagram’s internal survey shows that 21% of users convert same day, and a large chunk of users purchase during the next few days. This feature launched in the US only a year ago and after great success, as of March 2018, the list of participating countries expanded. If your business located in Australia, Brazil, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and UK, looks like you’ve won the Instagram advertising lottery.
3. Hashtag Update
Don’t have the moolah to blow on social listening tools? No worries. Instagram’s got you covered. You can now follow hashtags the same way that you follow people. Any posts and stories with the hashtag you follow will be shown on your news feed.
Why is this update important?
You need to know what other people are saying and doing. People hashtag like crazy, and hashtags are a window into their souls.
How to use the hashtag update
Follow your branded hashtags (make some if you don’t have any like #needlsfam and #behindtherobot), competitors and trending combinations. In doing this, you’ll always be at the top of the ladder by keeping an eye on your brand sentiment, business intelligence on your competitors, new trends and audience preferences.
Have a look how Sprout Social and actual official Instagram account implementing this feature:
Both accounts are using hashtags for monitoring events and mentions. However, if you have a look at the full list of hashtags followed by Instagram (there are 9 of them) you’ll notice, that they monitor hashtags in different languages in order to find User Generated Content for their feed. Brilliant.
This update has to be my favourite update because it’s like a 2 for 1. People who follow your hashtags will see posts with your tag in their feed. No more manually searching a hashtag – woohoo!
Hashtag Protip: Keep it relevant
As we mentioned in this blog post, the key to success is to make sure that you use the right hashtag, and keeping your Instagram hashtags relevant is more important than ever. The thing is, users can not only follow a hashtag but also can mark it not related to the topic by pressing the button “Don’t show for this hashtag.” Make sure you mix them up and use only the ones that make actual sense.
Use these 3 Instagram Updates to Supercharge Your IG Strategy
These three Instagram updates are a great foundation for you to kick start and get the most out of your social media strategy. Implementing them will not only help you increase your Instagram authority but also have a positive impact on your conversion rates. With the astounding growth of the platform’s user base (I mean, 10 million new users in just in 4 months is remarkable) it’s super important to establish your brand now before you get lost in the see of businesses. Thankfully, more Instagram updates are coming this year, which is great for you business marketers. Why? Because Instagram wants business owners to get the most out of the massive audience.