8 Fun things to try on Instagram

One of the things we love about social media is how quickly it evolves.

Products modify fast, new features are added regularly, and before you are aware, there are dozens — hundreds maybe — of different ways to express yourself online.

This comes with exciting opportunities for marketers particularly, because they can express their brands in new and unique ways to reach more customers.

The only hard part is keeping up.

It’s hard to stay on top of the latest news for everything that’s coming to social media. We’d love to help you. This post dives into Instagram marketing with a look at eight little-known features that you can try today.

We want to ensure you get maximum exposure on Instagram for your brand and develop a connection. These tips may be just the thing to help you stand out.

We’re going to focus today on some under-the-radar Instagram features. You might have heard of some of these already. We’re hopeful that one or two will be new to you.

Let us know any of your personal favorites or picks in the comments!

8 Cool Instagram Tips and Tricks You Might Not Have Tried Before

1. Experiment with the Instagram Stories countdown sticker

With the new countdown sticker in your Stories, you can set a future date and time, and the sticker will keep the track of time for you. We’ve seen some cool use cases with the countdown timer already. Things like

  • Using it for the countdown to a new product release that’s happening soon
  • Using it for a countdown before a live video
  • Or,using it as a premiere function to tease an announcement or piece of content on Instagram

The countdown sticker follows a trend that has really paid off for marketers. Interactive elements in Instagram Stories are highly effective. More than half of businesses on Instagram Stories use an interactive element in their story. This could be stickers, hashtags, @mentions polls – you name it.

So that leads us right into our second fun thing to try on Instagram …

2. Try an Instagram Stories poll sticker on your next ad

The polling sticker was one of the first interactive elements to get added to Instagram’s ad studio. If you’re not familiar with the sticker, it’s a simple two-option poll that shows its results as soon as someone picks one of the options. As of March, you can add this sticker to the Stories ads that you create for Instagram.

And the early results have been positive. In the beta launch for this new ad functionality, some advertisers had up to 40% more app installs and as much as 20% lower cost-per-view.

Further proof that these interactive elements are working!

3. Create a custom, branded AR filter

If you’re not familiar with AR filters, the AR stands for Augmented Reality. These filters add layers and masks to the world around you. For instance, if you have ever seen the filters that put a dog nose and ears on your face — that’s an AR filter.

And now it’s possible to make some of these for your brand!

It will take a bit of heavy lifting to create, but the teams at Facebook and Instagram have provided the tools. If you want to get started, you can check out all the resources on their Spark AR website.

We can’t wait to see what you might build.

There have already been some audacious brands trying out these AR features. Some of the top examples have been rounded up by Later in a blog. They include:

Kylie Cosmetics made a filter to try on different shades of lipsticks

Adidas made one that turns the screen into grainy, VHS footage to promote its vintage sneakers

The NBA created a filter that adds a player dunking a basketball onto any of your videos

4. Add alt text to your Instagram photos

Alternate text(alt text) is metadata that helps search spyders or computers recognize what an image is all about. This might seem like a smaller feature, but we believe it has a huge impact.

 It’s particularly useful for accessibility as it tells the screen reader what to say when it comes across an image. Without alt text, there is no mention of any image — which doesn’t prove very useful on an image-rich medium like Instagram!

Fortunately, Instagram allows alt text right into the posting flow. When you’re publishing an image to Instagram, you can go to Advanced Settings and tap on  Write Alt Text. Stories and video content on Instagram can also be captioned easily.

Adding alt text is a great step for marketers to add to their flow. It’s vital for accessibility … and it could one day play a role in the discoverability of Instagram content through search.

5. Try out the “close friend” list

These lists might go unnoticed by a lot of marketers. The lists are a useful tool for everyday users of the Instagram app … but for brands and businesses?

It requires a bit of effort and creativity, but yes, we think the lists can be handy.

For instance, lists can be used to share and communicate with a group of VIP customers or a special community of users.

If you have specific content that you want to share with early adopters, say, you could consider using a list to keep the content private but easily viewed by those who need to know.

If you have a store in a physical location, you can add local customers to make them aware of in-store deals.

Instagram allows the close friend list on any Stories content. You can create your friend list and add/remove people at any time. No notifications are sent when you add or remove.

We’d love to hear how you end up using this feature and any other creative ideas you have.

6. Explore branded content (and influencer marketing)

Branded content has new functionality with Instagram — now businesses can take content posted by their brand influencers and use it as part of the business’s admix.

So, let’s say that some personality on Instagram posts about some fab new Allbirds shoes. Then Allbirds could take that post and put advertising dollars behind it, paying to help it reach new audiences. There’re only two steps to get set up:

  • The creators enable the promotion via the creator’s advanced settings, and
  • The business sees the post in their Ads Manager and can run campaigns with the post as an ad in the feed or Stories.

This strategy has been used by brands previously, and it might be going even stronger today. Instagram reports that 68% of people say they come to Instagram to see and talk to the so-called “creators” on the platform.

7. Hide your hashtags in the feed and Stories

This next tip is a two-pack: advice for hashtags on your posts and in your Stories.

So, you’re probably well aware of the power of hashtags for discoverability. Hashtags are the way that content is categorized by the Instagram Algorithm and other social networks, and it is one of the key ways to discover new content. You want to be using hashtags … and lots of ’em!

But it might be the case that you also strive to keep a clean and tidy caption on your posts. This is where the “first comment” trick comes in.

If you’ve spent much time on Instagram, you’ve probably noticed this: Instead of posting hashtags in the caption itself, savvy Instagrammers will put a block of hashtags in the first comment.

That way, you keep the caption clean and it speaks only your message. Yet your post gets categorized with all the hashtags you want. Win-win!

Similar to the feed, Stories with particular hashtags helps in discovering your content. You can add hashtags by using the hashtags sticker — right alongside all those other great stickers we mentioned earlier in the post.

Many creators and brands maintain a certain aesthetic or theme with their Stories content. Hence, Hashtags don’t work in such cases.

In these situations, Instagramers hide their hashtags behind other stickers or behind color swipes or story elements. While posting a story if you start by hashtags, you can layer everything else on top so that the hashtags are not even visible.

This way, you get all the power of hashtags in Stories without sacrificing on the look you’re going for.

8. Give back with the donation sticker

Instagram is serious about its stickers. We’ve talked about countdown timers and polls and hashtags. There are also stickers for adding a quiz to your Stories, for adding background music and lyrics, as well as selfies, time, and weather.

But did you know? There is a nonprofit donation sticker?

Instagram gives you a list of nonprofits to choose from when you add the donation sticker. There are options like the St. Jude Children’s Hospital, the American Cancer Society, and Autism Speaks, and many more.

Once you select a nonprofit, you can add the name of your fundraiser, and then the users viewing your story will be able to tap the Donate button to give.

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