Instagram Features You Might Not Be Tapping Into
Make use of these 8 features to up your Instagram Game
Over the past several years, many businesses have come to understand that Instagram is an important platform to spend time on, and that truly understanding how to use the various Instagram features is beneficial to their success. That’s why there are so many courses to help us along (view our list of our recommended courses here)!
You’re not the only person enjoying Instagram, though. Between December 2016 and December 2017, the platform grew by 200 million daily active users.1 And although it’s just a fraction of Instagram’s user base, in only two years since their announcement of the new Business Profile, Instagram now has over 25 million customers using their Business assets.2
If you’re using Instagram to increase the visibility of your business, chances are that you’re missing some key Instagram features that can really help amp up your results. That’s what we’re here to talk about – what opportunities are you missing to increase your influence on Instagram?
Scroll down our list here and dig deeper into the areas you’re not yet sure about.
Instagram Now Allows for Direct Scheduling
This is one of my favorite Instagram features (although, I’m a bit biased). After manually posting (possibly to multiple Instagram accounts) for far too long, it’s really exciting that Instagram now allows social media schedulers like Buffer, Hootsuite, and Sprout Social to publish posts on behalf of their customers.
While this is very handy, there are a few restrictions that Instagram put in place. Over time, they’ll loosen up and more capability will be released.
For now, scheduled posts that you send through any social media scheduler need to abide by the following rules:
- They should be scheduled to a Business Profile
- They cannot be videos
- They must fit within these aspect ratios3:
If Instagram doesn’t think your post falls in line with the above constrictions they put in place, your scheduler should send you a notification at the time you scheduled your post to publish, and then you’ll follow these steps:
- Click on the notification to open Instagram
- Your image will be pre-populated and you can change it or add filters if desired
- Your text will be added to your clipboard so it can be pasted in
- Post it to your Instagram feed!
Whether your post is scheduled directly or via notifications, taking the time to pre-schedule them can keep you on your Instagram game and help you maintain consistency.
Following Hashtags Gives You Leg Up
It’s no secret that hashtags are still one of the most studied Instagram features. Adding hashtags to your posts isn’t just a trendy way to look like you know what you’re doing on Instagram; it’s a valuable (and free) tool to increase your reach and keep you aware of what’s happening in the arenas you’re most interested in. All you have to do is follow the hashtags you’d like to keep an eye on!
To do this, you can simply click on a hashtag anywhere inside of Instagram, and then click “Follow.”4
How Many Hashtags Should I Use?
According to TrackMaven’s latest study, using 9 hashtags in your posts seems to be the sweet spot, with an average of 28,548 engagements per post. This is more than the engagements they saw occur for posts that had more or fewer hashtags.
Do you think you have the restraint to tailor down from 30 to 9? Try it out!
OK, we’re on a roll… let’s chat about another hashtag tip.
How Specific Should My Hashtags Be?
Should you go general, like “love,” “school,” and “happiness,” or super specific, like, “4yearoldbirthdayparty,” “congratsstephanie,” and “cornmazesrock”?
Looking at just one of these tools and how it can be helpful, I thought I’d show you how to use Display Purpose. These are a few of the handy features:
- You type in hashtags you’re interested in, and they suggest other related, relevant hashtags to choose from
- They show you the relevance and popularity of each hashtag
- You can dwindle them down to the top xx number (you choose the number) of hashtags you’d like to choose
- They have an easy copy feature
Here’s a quick overview of Display Purposes, but feel free to explore any or all of them!
How Long Should My Hashtags Be?
In the same report referenced above, TrackMaven also found that hashtags that are 21 characters in length (phew, that’s long!) performed best with an average engagement of 30,394 interactions per post. Longer isn’t always better, though! Hashtags with 25 characters showed a dramatic decrease in interactions.
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When Should I Post?
Although it’d be nice, there is no one posting time that works for every Instagram account, and even in your particular account, it’s possible that a time that works well today might not work well tomorrow or next week. Because of that, experimentation within your own account is very important!
To inform your experimentation, let’s take a look at the clarity Instagram provided around their algorithm.
Instagram revealed that there are three main factors and three additional factors that determine what you see in your Instagram feed. I’ll give a brief description below. If you’d like to dig in deeper, head over to Buffer’s post on the Instagram Feed Algorithm.
- Interest: Based on your past engagements and time viewing different posts, Instagram predicts which posts will be most relevant to you. These posts will rank higher in your feed.
- Timeliness: How recent the post was sent.
- Relationship: How close are you to the person who shared the post? You’re more likely to see posts from the folks you often interact with than you are those whose posts you scroll by.
- Frequency: How often an Instagram user opens the app
- Following: How many other Instagram accounts is someone following? The more accounts you follow, the fewer posts from each account you’ll see.
- Usage: How long a user normally spends within the app. If you spend just a few minutes on Instagram each time you visit, the algorithm is likely to hyper prioritize the posts that fall under the 5 criteria above.
What Should I Do With Instagram Audience Insights?
One of the most useful Instagram features is your Audience Insights. Knowing where people are looking at your Instagram Business Profile from might sound fairly basic until we start thinking about what we can do with this data. Before we get into that, let’s take a peek at what these Insights5 look like:
To get here, you’ll follow these steps within your Instagram app:
- Tap on your profile image in the lower right
- Tap the graph icon in the upper right
- Tap “Audience”
Within Audience Insights, you can discover:
- Where your followers are
- How old they are
- What times they’re on Instagram
Thinking about strategy, how else can you use this information? That’s right! You can use it to target your Instagram ads, and you can also use it to choose your posting times. Brilliant, right?!
It’s as simple as that - head on over to this report, and take just a few minutes to retarget those ads and change up your posting schedule, and you’ll feel like a new man/woman!
One of the Newest Instagram Features: Instagram TV (IGTV)
I can't give you too many tips on this just yet, as it's brand new! The biggest tip with a hot new feature like this is to figure it out early on and discover how it can aid you in your mission to serve your followers or customers.
Instagram released IGTV with some great information here. Here are a few highlights:
- Instagram is trying to replicate your experience viewing TV, and start playing videos as soon as you open the app
- Each account has its own channel. You can switch between your favs or explore
- IGTV allows each video to be up to an hour (no more 1-minute countdown!)
- All videos are vertical
Social media is hard, and staying up with the trends is even harder. If you just nail down one or two of the tips above, you’ll be on your way to taking steps toward a more informed strategy. Good for you!