Instagram Has Changed: Here's What You Need to Know
Instagram is a great marketing tool for small businesses. When you have a business account, you can promote Posts and add contact information, directions to your store, and a Shop tab so your followers can shop directly from your page.
Those are the basics, but Instagram keeps evolving and recent updates have made it an even more effective platform for small businesses.
Here are a few of the top changes — and suggestions for how to take advantage of them.
In the past, someone could only view your Story for 24 hours. But now you can create Highlighted Stories that remain on your Profile.
Take this step: Create content that's worth sharing for a long time. For example, create a Highlighted Story for a new seasonal launch, one of customers wearing or using your products, or for a behind-the-scenes look at you and your business.
Shopping Without Leaving Instagram
The new “Checkout on Instagram" feature lets people shop your products without leaving Instagram. Let's say you post a photo of a room with furniture and decor, you can tag the items so people can tap them for information on the price, color options, and dimensions.
When they are ready to make a purchase, they can add their name, email, billing information, and shipping address directly on the Instagram platform.
Once their first order on Instagram is complete, the information is securely saved for the next time they shop. They'll also get notifications about shipment and delivery on Instagram.
Now people can shop from Posts, Stories, and from the Shop page on Explore.
Take this step: Start tagging pictures with items for sale.
If someone posts a Story of themselves using your products, visiting your store, or enjoying your restaurant and tags your handle, you'll get a notification.
Take this step: Add their Story to your own Story. You may want to message them to get their permission first, but usually people will be excited for you to share their Story!
Take advantage of the features that make it easier for everyone to enjoy your content. People can now hear a description of photos through a Screen Reader when they come across it in their Feed or Explore or on your Profile.
Instagram has also released an automatic alternative text that uses object recognition technology to generate a description of the photos for people to listen to through their Screen Reader.
Take this step: When you post a photo, fill out your regular caption as well as an alternative text that describes the photo.
Do More With Hashtags
If you don't already have one, it's helpful to have a hashtag associated with your business so it's easier for people to share content related to your company — and easier for you to engage with them. You can add the hashtag to your Profile description, store decor, business cards, packaging, and more so everyone knows the hashtag to use.
Take this step: Now you can follow a hashtag and see top posts from the hashtag in your feed so you spend less time searching and more time interacting with your fans.
New Styles Win the Day
You've probably seen your fair share of photos of latte art and macarons in a gorgeous cafe; people at trendy pop-ups like the Museum of Ice Cream, Rosé Mansion, or 29Rooms; and people in front of "Instagram Walls." Styled and staged images used to dominate on Instagram, but according to Atlantic reporting, Gen Z wants photos that are unfiltered, candid, and unpretentious.
Take this step: Share authentic moments from your life as a small business owner that are relevant to your fans. For example, if you operate a book store, you could share a pile of favorite books you're currently reading and ask fans what they are reading right now. Share moments that are real and relatable.
Keep Your Finger on the Pulse
Instagram is one of the best social media platforms today to engage with customers, but to be effective you need to keep an eye on new features and trends. To see what's working today and what's not, check your analytics on how your Stories and Posts perform. That will give you insight into the best time to post and what resonates most.