Savvy marketers have been on the Instagram bandwagon for sometime now, and for good reason.
With more than 400 million active users, and a user base growing faster than social network usage in general in the U.S., it’s the go-to visual content platform for brands wanting to make an impact.
And it just became a heck of a lot easier with Instagram’s latest updates promising greater flexibility, functionality and reach.
Instagram stories available on desktop
Brands have known for some time that most effective Instagram posts are carefully designed images that can take hours upon hours for marketers to plan and execute.
Nothing less than beautiful images will do for maximum engagement, but it can leave little time and resources to develop other posts to retain your followers’ attention.
The solution landed last year with the introduction of Instagram stories – snackable bits of content that disappear in 24 hours – or Instagram’s answer to Snapchat.
Brands quickly embraced Instagram stories as a means of posting more often and being able to create bite-sized pieces of content that could afford to be a little less polished.
There was one big catch though.
You could only view Instagram Stories on mobile devices – until now that is.
The ability to view stories on the desktop and mobile web versions of Instagram is currently being rolled out.
Just like in the app, users will be able see their Stories on the top of the screen, and can tap left and right to jump back and forth between Stories.
What this means for marketers is that Stories can now be created with larger desktop screens in mind, opening loads of opportunities to get even more creative with images.
But more importantly, this update means Stories can reach a greater audience.
Specifically this means Stories will reach users who use Instagram on the desktop or mobile web version, instead of the mobile app, whether out of personal preference or necessity.
With more than 75 percent of Instagram’s users outside the U.S. stories has been virtually inaccessible to a large proportion of users who live in parts of the world with unreliable mobile coverage.
This update opens the doors to international markets that may have been untapped until now – at least when it comes to stories.
Another new feature is the ability to upload Stories directly from mobile web versions of the platform.
This particular update has been labelled a gamechanger by some marketers, who go the extra length of editing their images and videos before sharing them as stories.
Instagram is reported though to have no plans to introduce the ability to upload photos or stories via your desktop – you can’t have everything I suppose.
One thing you can have though with the latest update, is the ability to supercharge engagement on stories.
Supercharge engagement on stories
Instagram announced this month (3 October) the introduction of an interactive poll sticker in Instagram Stories that lets you ask a question, and see results from your friends and followers as they vote.
You can use Instagram’s creative tools (including a new color picker for text and brushes, as well as an alignment tool for text and stickers) to create and share a two-option poll right in your story.
After you’ve taken a photo or video for your story, select the “poll” sticker and place it anywhere you’d like — you can write out your own question and customize the poll choices.
Your friends and followers can start voting as soon as you’ve shared the poll and can see real-time results.
The latest round of updates though haven’t been restricted to stories only, it also includes a bunch of other features that give more flexibility to posting, but also better monitoring.
Monitor Instagram engagement in Facebook
You may have noticed recently that when you were checking your Facebook page notifications, you could see your related Instagram engagement on the same page.
Conveniently, you can now review, engage and comment on your Facebook and Instagram posts all through the Facebook desktop site – potentially a big time saver for marketers.
Different formats in Instagram galleries
Instagram’s latest upgrade includes the ability to feature multiple image formats in a single post.
Previously multiple image posts could only feature square format images, but now you can create a gallery of all landscape or all portrait images and videos.
The disjointed nature of the chronological comment thread on Instagram has irked marketers and users for some time.
Conversations are often broken up by unrelated comments and replying on your own post is problematic.
Thankfully Instagram in its latest updates is introducing threaded comments similar to how they appear on Facebook or Twitter.
This, of course, makes it much easier for brands to engage in conversations with followers and vice versa.
So while the latest updates may not seem ground-breaking, they give marketers even more flexibility and ways to get creative with this growing platform.