Over the past decade, Instagram has grown into one of the most widely used social media platforms, with many Instagram features directed specifically at businesses. Indeed, with over 25 million business profiles on the platform, Instagram is no longer a network that’s just for sharing pictures of your vacation with your friends.
Instagram has come into its own and developed into a platform that not only offers paid advertisements, but can also support complete storefronts, allowing ecommerce brands to run their business entirely on Instagram.
And with 1 billion users on Instagram, there are a lot of potential customers to reach if you know what you’re doing.
But although there are tons of Instagram features that can support sales and revenue growth, they won’t do a thing if you don’t have a solid follower count. That’s why this article is going to focus on the Instagram features you can use to boost your Instagram followers to a healthy level.
Here, we’re going to cover five essential features that you can use to take your Instagram game to the next level. We’ll give you strategies that will help you effectively utilize analytics, Instagram Direct (DMs), shoppable posts and stories, location and hashtag features, and highlights.
Let’s jump in.
1. Instagram Analytics
Growing your Instagram following is half art and half science. On the one hand, you need to have creative, intriguing, and authentic content that will reel in your audience and connect with them on an emotional level.
But on the other hand, you also need to ensure that the numbers back up your creative endeavours. Specifically, your audience needs to hit that coveted blue follow button or engage with your content in some way so you can see your follower and like counts climb.
If you’re posting tons of authentic and honest content, but no one is following you, you’re not going to achieve your goal as a business, which is to earn a profit. The key to making sure your content is getting the results you want is Instagram Insights, Instagram’s built-in analytics platform.
To access Instagram Insights, you need to have a business account. Once you have that set up, all you need to do is click the bar graph icon on your account page. Alternatively, you can click the blue “View Insights” text underneath any of your posts.
Once you have access to Insights, you can view important data like how many followers you gained or lost over the past week, your impression count, your follower demographics, the days and times that your followers are most active, and more.
You can also view similar metrics for individual posts. Perhaps most importantly, you can see how many people followed your account after seeing any specific post. This way, you can get a read on what your highest-converting content is, and pump out more of it.
2. Instagram DMs
With so many features being added to Instagram all the time, it’s easy to overlook some of the platform’s most basic features. This is unfortunate because some of Instagram’s most basic features are also some of its most powerful.
Instagram direct messages, lovingly referred to as DMs, are one of these features that brands tend to overlook. Although DMs aren’t going to end up being your primary avenue for engaging your audience, they can be a useful tool to connect with some of your more loyal followers or to reach out to new prospects and influencers you want to work with. Chances are that if you’ve ever gone on Instagram, you’ve used Instagram Direct, which is the proper name for DMs. To access it, all you need to do is click on the paper plane icon in the top right corner of Instagram.
If your brand is made up of more than one person, you’ll likely want to set up a backend process for dealing with DMs, including how you should respond and how to mark them as read, replied to, or closed. This will be particularly helpful when dealing with incoming DMs.
However, DMs can also be used to connect with influencers who can promote your brand through sponsored posts. Unless the influencer’s profile states otherwise in their bio, you should always reach out to them via a direct message.
Influencer marketing can have a huge ROI, so this is by far one of the best ways to grow your following, and it all relies on proper usage of Instagram DMs.
3. Shoppable Posts And Stories
Instagram is a very visual platform, which lends itself to usage by the fashion, fitness, health, crafts, and travel industries. Many of the brands in these niches rely on impulse purchases, and using shoppable posts and stories can help facilitate those.
Essentially, shoppable posts and stories streamline the shopping and checkout experience for Instagram users. Instead of having to leave Instagram and navigate to another site to make a purchase, Instagrammers that see your posts and stories can checkout right there. This reduces the time between interest and purchase so that there are fewer opportunities for the user to change their mind.
To make shoppable posts on Instagram, you’ll need to have a business account. You’ll also need to have a shop setup with Facebook. Keep in mind that you can only use this Instagram feature for physical goods – services are not eligible.
Once you have all that set up, the rest is simple. When you upload a story or post, just tag the products you want to include under the “Tag Products” section of the “Share” screen. Instagram will take care of the rest for you once you’ve posted your content.
4. Location And Hashtag Features
Geotagging and hashtags are two basic Instagram features that, like DMs, are often overlooked. And it’s a shame — using them correctly can generate a lot of interest and engagement on your posts.
To understand how this can help expand your reach, you’ll need to understand how Instagram handles posted content.
When you post a picture or video without including hashtags, it will typically only go out to people who are already following you. However, when you include hashtags, your post will be included in the feeds of everyone who follows that hashtag itself. Plus, it will also show up in Instagram Explore, which is where many Instagrammers browse content.
If you use location hashtags, you have an added benefit — you may show up in that location’s official story!
As you can imagine, this can drastically increase your reach. If you post your newest release with no hashtags, it will only go out to your followers. But if you add #music, it will be blasted out to some of the millions of people that follow that hashtag.
The hardest part of this feature is knowing which hashtags to include. To help, you can use hashtag generators to get your ideas flowing.
To include hashtags in your posts and stories, all you need to do is add them into your captions. For stories, simply add the text into the story itself.
When you post an Instagram story, it will show up on your profile for 24 hours. However, if you add that same story to your Highlights, then it will stay there until you remove it.
Instagram Highlights is a useful feature not just because it lets you keep your stories posted for longer but because it provides a way to offer your visitors a sampling of the type of content they’ll see if they follow you.
Highlighted stories show up right below the bio section of your Instagram profile, so it’s very easy for visitors to flip through them quickly and get a feel for your profile. Plus, you can group them into different topics so visitors can glance through your different types of content without having to scour through all your posts for something that interests them.
You can add stories to your Highlights in one of two ways. First, you can simply add a story and then, while viewing it, hit the “Add to Highlights” button in the bottom right-hand corner of your screen.
Alternatively, you can use a story that’s already archived. To do this, just look right below the bio section of your profile for the “Story Highlights” section. Expand it, and then click the plus button to add an archived story to your highlights.
Important Instagram Features
It’s human nature to want to know about the secret features that will revolutionize how you use Instagram and bring your follower count from 100 to 100 million overnight.
But the reality is that there are no such secret features. Quite the opposite: the key to building your Instagram account really lies in skillfully using the basic features that Instagram provides.
If you can become skilled with hashtags, analytics, highlights, shoppable posts and stories, and Instagram DMs, you’ll have everything you need to make your Instagram account a stunning success.
However, like any skill, it takes time to master Instagram marketing, so don’t expect success to come quickly. Just keep at it and don’t get discouraged if you don’t see the results right away. Keep trying, and eventually you’re sure to reach your goal.
The author Dennis P. Reed possesses a vast experience in the IT industry, especially in the domains of website and mobile app development and digital marketing. He writes on topics encompassing the above mentioned domains and is considered a maven in his chosen field – Information Technology.