A guide to maximising Instagram as a marketer in 2022

January 20, 2022

Instagram is a rapidly evolving platform that is, by the standards of many social media platforms on the market, more transparent and responsive to user feedback than most. 

 

And despite increased competition from rising stars such as TikTok, Instagram’s adaptability has ensured that it remains not only relevant, but dominant. 

 

Instagram’s continued popularity means that it is an essential marketing tool for businesses, but its ever-evolving nature also means that it can be difficult to keep up with and feel confident navigating. 

 

Over the last couple of months, Instagram has announced some particularly notable and exciting changes that, if exploited, allow marketers to reach broader audiences and better engage with their brands’ followers. 

 

Here, we break down some of those key announcements: 

 

Feeding users what they want 

More than five years on from ditching its chronological feed for an algorithmic one, Instagram’s most recent announcement was that the platform intends to trial giving users the option to explore three different feeds: Home, which is the feed that is arranged algorithmically according to the content that the platform predicts you’ll be most interested in; Favourites, which is a feed of posts from the people whose updates you want to make sure that you don’t miss; and Following, which is simply a feed of the accounts that you follow in chronological order. This is music to many users’ ears, particularly small businesses, micro influencers, and us marketers. 

 

There is real opportunity here for those who produce high-quality and engaging content, as well as smaller businesses who may not have the resources to compete with larger organisations in the algorithm wars. The Home feed has often been viewed with a degree of scepticism given the algorithm’s black box, despite attempts by the business to explain how content is ranked. Reintroducing a chronological feed redemocratises Instagram and allows users to view content as and when it appears, rather than the platform deciding for them. Furthermore, with the introduction of a favourites list, there is a real incentive for businesses to up their game and ensure that they produce genuinely engaging and informative content that users look forward to seeing and don’t want to miss. 

 

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Reely emphasising video 

It’s no coincidence that Instagram’s Head, Adam Mosseri, chooses to make his announcements in the form of Reels. In a recent post, Mosseri reaffirmed the company’s decision to consolidate all of its content around the central pillar of Reels. For those who don’t know, Reels were Instagram’s response to the rapidly rising popularity of TikTok. They are essentially exactly the same as TikTok videos, which are screen-length and easily editable – a creative’s dream. Reels differ to normal Instagram Videos in several subtle ways, including their formatting, length limits, and the ability to add audio from Instagram’s database to the video. But the crucial difference, however, speaks to the decision by the platform to put Reels at the centre of its offering, in quite a literal way. 

 

Instagram provides users with a dedicated Reels feed, located on the middle button of the menu bar at the bottom of the app. Here, users can view popular Reels from accounts that they don’t necessarily follow, which are presented to users according to an algorithm. Reels therefore receive far greater numbers of impressions and engagement from a wider audience than conventional image-based or video content, given how much time users spend on the Reels tab, and are consequently a powerful tool that businesses are strongly encouraged to employ in order to increase their reach and exposure easily and organically. 

 

Re:Reels 

Once again, in an, um, shall we say, “homage” to TikTok, Instagram has introduced one of its competitor platform’s most popular features to its own platform. Instagram calls it Reels Visual Replies”. This allows users to take a comment or a response from a Reel that they have posted, and to create another Reel that responds directly to that comment, with the comment appearing in the video itself. This has been a very popular tool in TikTok videos, and offers a fantastic way for users to engage with their audiences and encourage engagement by spotlighting them in their content. It’s simple, but crazy effective and highly encouraged. 

 

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#CollabFab 

In November, Instagram introduced the ability for accounts to jointly upload content. One user simply has to upload the post and then invite the other user to be a collaborator. As soon as that user accepts the invitation, the content appears on both users’ feeds, whether followers follow both accounts or not - with one joint comment feed and like count etc. This is an extremely exciting tool, and opens up a whole new world of possibilities for businesses through influencer and microinfluencer collaboration. 

 

So-called “microinfluencers” are powerful resources in marketing. They are individuals with a moderately sized but highly dedicated and engaged following that is deeply invested and trusting of the individual. Micro-influencers also typically build their dedicated followings around a particular niche or interest, which provides marketers with a very clear idea of the following’s demographics. To see first-hand just how effective microinfluencer collaborations can be, check out our work with Rabbie’s and Uber Boat by Thames Clippers. 

 

The new collab feature on Instagram allows brands who partner with microinfluencers to gain immediate exposure to their audience by being displayed on the influencer’s feed, and to engage with them directly through collaborative posts. 

 

#LinkedInsta 

A feature that seems to have been a glaring omission from Instagram for as long as stories have been around is the ability to embed links to external websites in user stories for accounts without a certain number of followers. Remember: “link in bio”? Well, no more! In November of last year, Instagram announced the introduction of Link Stickers for all users. Now your small business can direct users straight to its landing page and increase traffic and conversions, without having to worry about the likely attrition rate of people going from Stories to your bio. This is a big win for users, and a genuine game changer for social media marketing. 70% of users watch Instagram Stories daily, and they are one of the most engaged with features on the platform. Having a direct link to your storefront is a godsend for those looking to drive more traffic to their website. 

 

 

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Desktop-up 

Another seemingly glaring omission in Instagram’s usability was the inability to upload content from a desktop or laptop. This meant that all content, even if it was created on a laptop, had to be downloaded to a handheld device and then uploaded to Instagram from there, or pushed users to create content directly on the phones themselves. Instagram’s recent update that users will be able to upload content directly from the desktop will have brought on a massive sigh of relief from marketers around the world - allowing them to remove one more niggly, frustrating step from the content creation process. 

 

Tweet-peek 

Previously, sharing content from Instagram to Twitter was a big no-no, as only the caption was previewed, without any visual content. It made posts look unprofessional, and engagement was low because followers would have to leave Twitter to find out what it was about. So, users were forced to create bespoke content for both Instagram and Twitter, and upload separately. Last month, however, Instagram announced that it would henceforth allow previews of Instagram content shared on Twitter to be displayed - thereby increasing the user friendliness and appeal of sharing content to Twitter from Instagram. Although this still isn’t the perfect solution, if your business isn’t too concerned about Twitter but wants to maintain a professional presence on the platform without investing extra hours to crafting differentiated content for it, then this is good news. 

 

 

The better a grasp that you have on Instagram and its rapidly evolving nature, the better you can leverage it to help your business reach its target audience most effectively with content that they will engage with and keep coming back for more of. 

 

Instagram is the land of social media marketing opportunity, and rewards those who have the tools and knowledge to navigate it, so to keep up to date with the latest market and social media insights, follow us on Instagram here, and subscribe to our newsletter.