How to use social media: Instagram

In part two of our series on ‘How to Use Social Media’ we take a look at Instagram, what’s new and how marketers can leverage this channel, which now has more than 500 million active monthly users, to reach their customers.

Business tools

Instagram has put a lot of thought into how business users can utilise its channel. Earlier this year it released Business Tools which included new business profiles, analytics and the ability to create ads from posts directly within the app.

Instagram worked with hundreds of businesses to understand what was needed to enhance their Instagram experience, and three needs became apparent: they wanted to be able to stand out, get insights and find new customers.

So, Instagram has introduced new functions for businesses who have an existing Facebook business page: A ‘contact button’, which gives users the option to get in touch with your company. A ‘location tag’, which displayed underneath the images, and when tapped shows the business’ location/gives directions. And ‘Insights’, which feature metrics like top posts, reach, impressions and engagement around posts, as well as more data on your followers like their gender, age, and location.

Live video

Instagram launched Live Video in November. Like Facebook Live it allows users to broadcast video to your followers in real-time as part of Instagram Stories (a feature that launched in August as is now used by 100 million people every day).

One fundamental difference between Instagram Live video and existing live broadcasting products like Facebook Live and Periscope is that Instagram Live video is entirely ephemeral: as soon as the broadcast ends, the video disappears. There are no replays.

Instagram Stories

In August, Instagram launched its version of Snapchat to “capture all the world’s moments, not just the best ones,” said Kevin Systrom, the founder of Instagram.

Stories could potentially provide businesses with a way to drive some all-important traffic from Instagram. Instagrammers with verified accounts can now share links through Instagram stories using a ‘See more’ action, which loads content in an Instagram-contained browser when a user swipes up on a story.

Instagram Direct

Alongside live video, Instagram has also launched another ephemeral Snapchat-like feature in its direct messages, enabling users to send disappearing videos and photos to individuals and groups within Instagram Direct.

Since Instagram made improvements to the way to its direct messaging system worked last year, the number of people using Instagram Direct each month has grown from 80 million to 300 million — with many of these users turning to group threads every day to stay in touch with their closest friends and family.

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