Instagram: Which Tools Are Best for You?
By Sally Smithwick, RDBA E-Weekly Managing Editor
By now, you’ve probably joined the one billion people that use Instagram. The platform started in 2010 and has the fourth highest number of users of mobile apps, outranked by Facebook, Facebook Messenger and WhatsApp. There’s some great news for businesses as 200 million users visit at least one business profile daily, and 90% follow a business (according to Hootsuite, a social media management platform).
Here are some other statistics that make the case for business profiles on Instagram:
- 36.2% of B2B decision makers use Instagram to research new products or services
- 58% of people say they have become more interested in a brand or product after seeing it in Stories
- 50% have visited a website to make a purchase after seeing a product or service in Stories
Beyond generally posting images to your profile, users can take advantage of Stories, IGTV, Explore and the latest tool, Reels, which is similar to the Tik Tok platform. Here are some key differences in these options:
Posts - This is your evergreen content that stays relevant for a longer period of time. This content in your main feed draws users to your profile with an overall glimpse into your objectives. A great way to use posts is for tips, tutorials, drawing attention to listicles, historical info and testimonials.
Stories - Instagram stories are vertical photos or videos with a maximum of 15 seconds. These posts will disappear after 24 hours and will not display in your feed. However, they are displayed at the top of an active user’s app. Users cannot publicly comment on Stories but can respond in direct messaging. This feature is better used for hot topics, latest news, event promotions, and items that will not remain relevant over a long period of time.
IGTV - This is a great tool for livestreams and even more importantly, a way to reuse videos you’ve posted to YouTube and Facebook. You can share an IGTV preview in your feed. The full video can be up to 60 minutes, but most social media marketing experts say 10-15 minutes is the ideal length. This is a great place to connect with your audience in a more authentic way, perhaps with cooking demonstrations, health and nutrition guides, or giving shoppers a behind-the-scenes look into your store. IGTV opens up the opportunity for you to make more of an emotional connection with users and provide exclusive content.
Reels - The newest additions to the Instagram platform, Reels was created with the same goal as Tik Tok. In fact, it works almost exactly the same. These videos can be up to 30 seconds long, offer an audio database of songs to use with your video as well as filters and editing tools.
Explore - This feature allows users to take a look at what’s happening live in real time and then also lists a grid view of videos for you. Explore offers a great opportunity for you to reach beyond your followers, as this feature shows posts based on an algorithm specific to the individual’s behaviors and interests on the app. For example, if a user follows and shows interest regularly in food topics, the tab will display other food related profile posts that they do not currently follow. The feature also breaks up posts into categories based on the user. So they may see groups of posts under tabs such as food, style, travel, music, sports, etc. This feature may be your best friend on Instagram when it comes to building brand awareness and gaining more “likes.” Unlike Instagram ads, it is absolutely free.
Making use of all these tools may seem overwhelming and time-consuming, but the truth is that each option offer ways to use content you already have as well as opportunities to get creative with new content. The most important thing is to find your comfort zone and the tool through which you personally can shine the most.
Final Tip: Visuals are everything! Whether it’s a post or video, make sure your images look compelling and your videos have quality lighting. In addition, use shorter captions always and take advantage of those hashtags.