Instagram seems to be playing catchup right now, previously aiming to attract users from TikTok, and now taking aim at BeReal and Twitter.
When a new platform or feature starts to take off and become successful, it’s no surprise that other social media platforms take note and start working on their response. In addition to Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok have also come up with their own versions of BeReal recently.
So, what’s currently happening on Instagram? Well, several new features are being introduced as we speak. Instagram states that these features are to “help people more easily share in spontaneous, fun ways to help create even stronger connections with friends.”
Candids are Instagram’s answer to BeReal. On Instagram, you can now post one candid shot per day where your phone takes a photo with both front and back cameras simultaneously. The idea is to show something real, without filters.
Just as on BeReal, you can ignore the notification to take your selfie, but if you do, you can’t see what anyone else has posted.
According to Instagram themselves, you can “Capture a Candid from the Stories camera, the multi-author story at the top of the feed, or from the daily notification reminder that starts after your first Candid.”
Add Yours Stickers
When you look at stories, you’ll see an Add Yours prompt inviting you to contribute your own story. That’s not a new feature, but what Instagram has added is a new “Pass it on” prompt.
If the story doesn’t fit with something you want to post, you can pass the prompt to add a story to a friend or colleague to invite them to post instead.
In addition to BeReal, Instagram is also taking a stab at a more Twitter-like feature with their new Notes. Users can now add an update to their profile which is only for text and emojis.
You can post up to 60 characters and the update will remain for 24 hours, like a temporary sticky note. Friends can then reply to your update, which will appear in your DMs.
The new Notes feature started rolling out to users on December 13th, so check if you’ve got it and start testing.
Group Profiles and Collaborative Collections
Group Profiles allow you to share a profile where you can post related content just for that group of people.
Collaborative Collections let you save your posts in your group chat to a collection that only chat participants can see.
What do all the new features mean for marketers?
The addition of Candid Stories allows you to choose one thing to focus on per day. In fact, you have no choice as you can’t continue posting once you’ve done your selfie. That focuses the mind, which sometimes is not bad thing.
Think about what you’re currently promoting, any new releases, the latest news from your company, and more.
You don’t want to be too sales-y here. The idea is to be real and genuine. So you may do better with content showing off what goes on behind the scenes in your company and aiming to build connections, community, and engagement.
With your brand Instagram account, you too should have the feature to post Notes on your profile. Again, you could use this for special offers, discounts, the latest news, new releases, and more. You could ask people to DM you to get the offer or to receive the link to the sales page, which shows who your really keen fans are – at least for that product or service.
As for replying to people’s Notes, I wouldn’t say this was a good idea. It’s a case of “just because you can doesn’t mean you should.” If you have something witty to contribute or their Note is about your company and you want to reply, I can’t see the harm. But very few people will be happy about you popping into their DMs with a sales pitch.
You could use Group Profiles or Collaborative Collections for your VIP clients and raving fans. Here you could share special offers and sneak peeks, just for them. It’s certainly one way to get fans excited about something you know they really want.
You could perhaps also use these for focus groups to get feedback on new ideas or on your latest products.
And you could set up groups for different aspects of your business and use them to help segment your Instagram audience and target content at them more efficiently.
Of course, the more group profiles and collections you set up, the more you’ll need to do to manage them and, potentially, the longer you’ll need to spend on social media. But if you choose your groups wisely and limit them to the ones you really need, you should be able to gain excellent feedback, engagement, and great data, without adding greatly to your marketing efforts.
These features are so new that, right now, there’s no telling how useful they’ll be and how much engagement you’ll get. I wouldn’t give up a solid, already prepared marketing plan in exchange for focusing on these new features, but I do think it’s worth knowing about them and experimenting with them – just as long as you don’t take too much time away from your existing plans and get distracted.
Playing with these new features may give you some advantages. You may discover new insights into your audience and new ways to engage them. You may find you get better engagement by segmenting your audience into Group Profiles or Collections and tightening your focus onto each group to post just what they’re looking for.
It’s also worth noting that Meta is testing Candid on Facebook Stories. Any testing you do now on Instagram could place you ahead of the curve if the feature is also rolled out to Facebook.
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