While Instagram was initially introduce as exclusively an image sharing platform, it has come a long way since then. Particularly in the last two years, we’ve seen Instagram adopting an increasing amount of features that are similar to those of Facebook, making the two social media platforms more and more similar. Facebook and Instagram share an ad platform, the Stories feature, and more.
The many changes and improvements have made Instagram more useful for everyone—regular users, businesses, and social media marketers alike. Every new successfully introduced feature has helped increase the platform’s potential in areas like selling, marketing, and brand building.
Recently, Instagram has announced more updates that can help marketers to accomplish all three of those goals. The updates and new features include:
- Name tags
- Automatically splitting up long-form video into vid bits
- Quick replies on DM
- GIFS used in messages
Since its start as a frivolous image sharing platform, Instagram has developed into a tool that businesses and brands can use to attract leads, engage customers, and grow their brand through connecting with influencers in their niche.
In this article, I’ll be going over these awesome new features that were launched in October and the ways that they improve the experience for users and businesses and how they can increase the platform’s usefulness as a marketing tool, particularly in areas such as selling and brand building.
Instagram Launches Nametags
One of the new features is called nametags. This feature allows each user to create their own personalized “nametag” that can be scanned by other users within the Instagram app. When someone scans your unique nametag, that person will be shown a prompt to follow you.
The goal of nametags is to make it easier for users to connect without needing to go through the trouble of a long, sometimes unsuccessful search. Nametags will be a huge asset to brands looking to grow their followings on Instagram, as it makes it so much easier for followers on other platforms to follow your brand’s Instagram account.
You can take a screenshot of your nametag and post it on your site, other social media account, in email marketing campaigns written with the goal of increasing followers, or even in printouts in stores. If you have a brick-and-mortar store, place printouts of your nametag somewhere that users are most likely to see them, such as by the checkout.
Instagram Allows Longer Story Uploads
In the past few years, Instagram has added a lot of features to support and promote video content on the platform and to compete with other video sharing apps. The newest feature relating to video on Instagram involves longer stories.
The new features will allow Instagram users to upload long form video content that will be split automatically. For examples, if a user uploads a video that is a minute long, Instagram will automatically split it up into 15-second sections. The video will play like a “stitched” story.
The longer stitched format will still allow users to customize each segment with classic Story elements like stickers, emojis, and more. However, there are some pros and cons to this new feature:
Pro: It makes story creation a little easier.
Con: Instagram will automatically break these videos into chunks on their own, instead of giving users control of how they are split. This could interrupt narration or the flow of the Stories
Additionally, at the moment, this feature is only available for Android devices.
Quick Replies Roll Out for DMs
This new DM feature will make things way easier for businesses to respond to customers, in the same way that chatbots have improved usability for Facebook Messenger, though the new feature does differ. Instagram’s new Quick Replies can be used by all business accounts on both iOS and Android. The feature essentially allows businesses to save generic responses that they use frequently when corresponding with their audience.
You can reply with these saved responses and customize them as needed. When it comes to setting your Quick Replies, it is important to remember that:
- You can and should customize them once you’ve pulled them up.
- These replies should be used to streamline your customer service instead of automating it entirely.
- However, there are some cases where a fully customized message is best.
To Add Quick Replies to Your Account
- Go to your Settings
- Head to Business Settings
- Find “Quick Replies”
- Enter in the Saved Replies that you want to have on hand for your customers
- Name the Message Shortcut
- Type the Full Reply (the message)
Once you’ve set up your Quick Replies, you can then click on the chat bubble with the three dots to pull up your saved replies when you’re in a direct message with a customer. These will appear as a message as if you’ve typed it, and you can customize and personalize it before sending.
GIFs Can Be Used In Messages
Another new feature that users can enjoy is the ability to use GIFs in Instagram’s direct messaging platform. This feature is pretty straightforward, and for businesses, it is best used to establish client relationships and communicate with them organically.
Ensure that you’re only using GIFs when it’s appropriate. It would not look professional if you replied to a serious inquiry with a silly GIF. Establish a relationship with the client first, or only use GIFs when the conversation is suitably casual.
Instagram Updates Potentially In Development
While these four new features are already a great addition, we know that these won’t be the last. In fact, there are already rumors about the next additions to the platform.
Right now, there is evidence that Instagram is testing the following two features:
One new feature involves a popular old feature from the platform, but in a different way. It is rumored that a new post format is in development that would involve users adding hashtags to a distinct section on posts, instead of in the captions themselves.
These hashtag-free posts would allow brands to still get the reach benefits of hashtags without having a cluttered text post with giant blocks of them appearing in the caption. This way, businesses can use hashtags more as categorization tools.
Not too much is known about this rumored new feature, other than that it is a straightforward audio messaging feature that would be available in direct messaging. Instead of having to type out a message, users would be able to hit the microphone icon next to the message window and record their message.
Since it was first launched, Instagram has undergone significant changes that have grown and developed a loyal following. Instagram has evolved slowly but steadily with a consistent stream of updates that are rolled out gradually each month.
The biggest updates to start watching for and using immediately will be the saved replies feature and the new nametag capabilities. You can use these features as part of your social media marketing strategies to start new relationships and then build them organically over time through Instagram.
If you’re ready to learn more about how Instagram can help you market your business, then enroll in our Digital Marketing School today! You can also follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube for more helpful content daily, or visit our blog for more FREE training.