In the era of crafting your personal online brand, Instagram has become the go-to vehicle through which people curate their ideal selves. Unfortunately, as a result, it is difficult for brands to encourage users to organically share their branded content on Instagram. Users are hesitant to disrupt their online identity branded content, especially when they aren’t getting those #SPON and #ad dollars. Consumers obsess over their representation via Instagram profiles, so how can brands tap into user generated content without being invasive?
Two recent updates to the platform may have the answer: Interactive Stories and Archivable Posts.
First of all, if you don’t know what Instagram Stories are, maybe you should read this. But did you know that Stories are now more interactive? With a recent update, users can post Stories with clickable hashtags, which also means users can watch Stories relevant to that hashtag. To view Story content from a certain hashtag, click the hashtag in the Story or in an Instagram caption –– you can also search hashtags. This will place you into a screen that shows a circle at the top that, when clicked, will show you public user’s Story content featuring that hashtag. And what does that mean for brands? They, too, can explore user generated content (posts and Stories) within their hashtag.
And…ICYMI: Last week, Instagram launched the ability to archive posts. Yes, instead of deleting old posts that may not be “on brand” anymore, users can simply archive those photos or videos, without losing the likes and comments –– not to mention, users can also un-archive posts if later they regret the original decision. While it seems like a simple update to users, this feature has the potential to change brand-fan relationships.
The combination of Instagram Stories and Archivable posts are huge for brands (for two reasons):
Consumers Don’t Want to Disrupt Their Brand With Yours
Archivable Instagrams play to the non-committal user. For example, a lot of users do not want to upload a selfie with a hashtag to win a free T-shirt, trip, bag, etc. If users had the option to post a selfie with a hashtag to their STORY, however, knowing it would disappear in 24 hours, they may be more likely to do so. At the same time, if users could archive a post a few days after they do it (because let’s be real, how often are those contests relevant to your personal brand?), they may feel more incentivized to play along.
Grids Are Out Of Style (Spoiler Alert)
We all remember the Instagram grid. If you don’t, grids are when brands/users/influencers publish content in a specific order so that when viewing their profile in grid mode, there was a larger image to see.
They were cool while they lasted, but safe to say that standard, six, or nine-square grids are no longer groundbreaking. Grids were and are hard to keep up, because the minute you post another image, the grid is ruined. Have no fear, you can now archive the entire grid!
Users may not even realize the impact these updates have…yet. So, brands, what do you do next?
Let your followers know that you understand that they don’t want to participate in the conversation if it means posting to their own account. Instead, give them options and change your calls to action –– open up social contests to allow participation via Stories or tell followers to leave a post up for a few days before they archive it. See what happens.
Make Your Posts Feel Exclusive
You can now approach your Instagram profile as you would your Story because nothing is necessarily permanent. Use language that tells users that content will be disappearing within a certain time period. This will encourage them to visit your Instagram profile JUST to see that content. Transform campaigns into exclusive content. That’s how Snapchat kept people coming back, right? This tactic can also help you outsmart the Instagram algorithm that is no longer chronological. If users are visiting your page before content disappears, you don’t need to worry about it getting lost in their feeds.
Play Hide And Seek
Create a campaign that archives a different post everyday. Encourage followers to memorize your 12-square grid and at the end of the day, make them guess which post you archived.
Update Your Instagram
If nothing else, use this update to clean up your account. Go delete those old countdowns for movies that already came out or sales that already happened. While you could have deleted posts before, now you won’t lose the metrics, the content, or the learnings.
The archive update and the interactive Story update will open the door for more brand engagement and will encourage users to start more conversations with publishers.The barrier to entry is smaller and the risk associated with participating is less daunting. Now, people can opt-in for a short amount of time, without the fear of tarnishing a personal brand.