The beauty of social media is that it is free. Even when you decide to use Instagram ads to push your posts, it still remains a very affordable marketing tool. Therefore, it is perfect for small businesses. Now, the app changes a lot with time and comes up with new features on a regular basis. So, what Instagram features could you, as a small business, make the most of?
Instagram can be used in many ways. While some brands will use the app to generate awareness, others will be on Instagram to create a community, increase revenue, or strengthen their brand image. Regardless of what you are trying to achieve, there will be Instagram features that will help you reach your goals!
If you are a small business that sells products, Instagram Shopping is the right tool for you. Businesses can now tag products on their posts and stories, making those shoppable. Your Instagram profile will also have a “shop” tab.
This Instagram feature makes it easier for people to buy a product straight after seeing it tagged on a post. Not only does it help to increase conversion rate, but it also makes tracking sales from Instagram easier.
Before, the only way to use links to a website page was through stories or the link in bio. Thus, marketers were not always able to say with certainty which post exactly had triggered the most purchases from the app.
Instagram introduced a new feature that makes the e-commerce experience on the app even smoother. Instead of being redirected to your website, Instagram checkout allows users to buy and pay directly within the app. No need to leave Instagram to complete a transaction.
In the age of convenience and instant gratification, users want to be able to buy right now, without having to produce any effort. While a website will always be useful and essential to a small business, Instagram shopping is basically making the checkout process much shorter, easier and smoother.
Instagram Story Highlights
Instagram stories are a great tool for business. Stories are at the top of the feed and new content will push your business at the front of the line. No algorithm influences whether your stories are seen by your audience or not. Now that you can tag and use swipe up links, you can get people to purchase on Instagram and head over to your site.
However, Instagram Stories are short-lived. They disappear after 24 hours. Using Instagram Story highlights solves that issue. Indeed, highlights allow to extend the life of stories and make them readily available for new and current followers to watch, regardless of when they initially went live.
When creating highlights, prioritize stories that will drive engagement and traffic to your website. Make sure you upload branded and customized highlight covers to give your bio a cleaner look. Highlights are indeed a great opportunity to strengthen your visual branding.
They can also be used to strengthen your brand identity. Some brands will use story highlights for “about us”, “behind the scenes”, “our team”, “tips and tricks” and other company related content to humanize their brand. And show what goes on behind the screen, which is, as we know it, something followers like a lot.
IGTV And Reels
Video content is in. Now more than ever. Engagement in videos is always higher than on still images. That is why it is important that small businesses create video content, whether on the feed or on IGTV. The difference is, videos on the feed can’t be more than a minute, while IGTV videos can last 60 minutes.
They are great to showcase products, show lengthy behind-the-scenes, tutorials, interviews and other content that can help build long-term relationships. IGTV video captions can contain links so you can get a direct link to a website.
Staying with video content, let’s move onto Reels. Instagram Reels are the app’s latest feature. It is quite similar to TikTok. They are fifteen second video clips that you can edit as you wish: add a background, stickers, text, music, etc.
As they are the latest Instagram feature, they are quite trendy right now and being used by a lot of brands. The algorithm prioritizes users that use all features, especially new ones, therefore to increase engagement and reach, better get on the bandwagon and start using them!
Instagram Story Stickers
Using stickers on Instagram Stories is a great way to increase engagement as well as collect feedback from customers and followers. Instagram has a wide variety of stickers you can use: quiz, poll, slider, question, countdown stickers.
They can help increase engagement in their own way but also help you understand your audience better. Polls are great to create simple interactions. They can also be very useful if you want to ask your followers their opinion on an upcoming product, i.e. which color would you choose, red or blue.
Slider stickers can help you assess what your audience likes. They are great for getting a quick sentiment reaction. Again, they can help provide feedback for product development. Stickers are very popular and are awesome at encouraging interactions and gathering feedback.
Quizzes are another fun way to interact with your followers and get to see what they know about your brand. Countdowns are really useful to create hype and build up expectations prior to a product launch.
Link In Bio And Swipe Up Links
If you are a small business, the best way to drive traffic to your website is to put your link in your Instagram bio. Instagram does not allow direct links in caption, therefore your bio is the only guaranteed way to have a link.
It is also in prime position since it is in your bio and the first thing people see when they land on your profile. It is an Instagram feature that is not always utilized. You can use websites like Linktree to offer multiple links to your followers.
If you have a significant Instagram following already and are past the 10k mark, you can use the swipe up feature. This is one of the most helpful Instagram features if you want to drive traffic to your website and increase revenue.
When you post a story, not only can you tag products, but you can also send followers directly to a product page so that they may buy it. Even though stories have a very short lifespan, they show at the top of the feed and fresh content push them at the front of the line. Thus, your followers are more likely to see your stories than your posts and to end up on your website.
Gift Cards And Food Orders
Gift cards and food orders are two new Instagram features that came to be as a result of the pandemic. With the lockdown in place and a lot of small businesses struggling to stay afloat, Instagram rolled out both features to help support restaurants.
Gift cards allow businesses to sell redeemable vouchers directly on the app. They are available via a button in your bio or a new Instagram Stories sticker. When people tap the gift card sticker on stories or the button in the bio, they are redirected directly to the website where they can make a purchase.
The same goes on with Food Orders. They provide a new way for businesses in the hospitality sector to drive awareness of their food delivery services. A restaurant can share a meal on story and add the “food order” sticker. Stickers can be used to place orders through Caviar, ChowNow, deliver.com, UberEats, GrubHub, Seamless, Postmates, Doordash, and more.
Pinned comments are not new. Facebook, Twitter and Youtube sort of already offered such a feature. Instagram is now doing it. Pinned comments are an awesome way to set the tone of voice for your brand.
You can choose to pin any comment. However, it would make sense to pin to the top a very positive comment about your product or service, a user championing what you are doing or endorsing you.
You can pin up to three comments. They will be the first comments your followers will see. Not only can they divert the attention from bots, but they will also shed a positive light on your brand, especially as those comments are saying something nice about you.
If you are looking for an Instagram feature that will help you build a meaningful and strong connection with your followers, try Instagram Live. More and more users as well as brands are going live on Instagram.
Brands are moving away from in-event centric content and giving more space to live broadcast. Thus, they are bringing their followers together, allowing them to interact with the live in real time, to ask questions and get answers. In conclusion, businesses can strengthen their community and show a much more human and authentic side to their brand.
If you are a fitness brand for example, you may want to organize a live showcasing at-home workout routine. If you are a hair accessory brand, you may want to give hair tutorials live. You can also organize takeovers with influencers who can try, test and review your product in real time.
Instagram Live is also great because it will soon allow Instagram Live Shopping, which is a great feature to take advantage of. Businesses will be able to share direct links to shoppable products during their Instagram Live broadcasts.
Small businesses need to use social media and Instagram offers a lot of great features. From live, to shoppable pictures, to links and stickers, using all those Instagram features can really help boost engagement, reach and impression.