There are few instances where your ability to blend into a crowd will define your level of success. Perhaps if you’re an international spy on a deep-cover mission, for example.
Instagram, however, is not a place where you want to blend in. As Instagram grows in popularity among everyday users and brands alike, it’s more important than ever to make an impact on the platform.
An estimated 75.3% of US marketers will use Instagram in 2020. These kinds of figures make it feel like it’s impossible to stand out.
But, there are indeed ways to gain a competitive edge. Let’s take a look at some lesser-known Instagram tactics that will help you sell more on Instagram and make your audience take notice.
1. Post interactive stories
Instagram Stories are a worthwhile activity because they’re so popular among users. In fact, 500 million users worldwide create Stories every day, and Socialbakers (now Emplifi) data show that Stories are more common among brands than regular feed posts.
If you want to take your Stories to the next level, though, you should make them interactive. Focus on creating unique and memorable snippets of content that your audience can’t help but engage with.
Tap the sticker icon within Stories to find your interactive options:
Add a countdown timer to create buzz around an event, product release, giveaway, or sale
Interact with your audience in real-time by hosting a Q&A
Get to know your followers better by having them take part in a poll
For example, Yankee Candle polled users to see which pine fragrance they prefer:
You may find some useful business insights through such interactions. For instance, Yankee Candle’s next step could have been to add a shoppable image of their balsam and cedar candle to their feed.
NetflixUK has found another clever way to interact with fans by prompting user-generated Stories. They create mini-surveys, then ask users to screenshot, edit and share on their own Stories, tagging Netflix:
With minimal effort, they encourage fans to share their content and then share the best user-generated content on their Story, which gives users an extra incentive to take part:
This type of interactive collaboration became particularly common during the coronavirus pandemic, with music venues like Brooklyn Bowl encouraging fans to share gifs related to their favorite concerts or sports brands inviting fans to discuss their favorite games or highlights.
Take inspiration from these brands and up your engagement levels through interactive Stories.
2. Create an AR Filter
You might be used to the augmented reality filters that give users a sparkly face or animal ears. But did you know that anybody can add a custom AR filter to Instagram?
A custom AR filter is another fun way to engage users and make your brand memorable. Furthermore, it boosts brand awareness as users implement the AR filter and share it with their followers.
If you have some mad design skills, you can create your own filter with Spark AR Studio. Or simply hire a designer to do it for you.
One idea is to create an AR filter that features your product. Here’s an example from Ray-Ban:
Or you could create a filter that’s all about your branding. Take a look at Aritzia’s SuperGlow filter:
Of course, the filter includes the company’s name in a creative way. But also, Aritzia is a luxury fashion boutique so it makes sense they would create such a glamorous filter. It’s very much on-brand.The capabilities of AR on social media are expanding in other exciting ways, too. Instagram has been beta testing AR shopping, which lets users try out a product virtually on the platform.
Naturally, not being able to try before you buy is a major obstacle associated with online shopping. AR could get closer to eliminating this obstacle altogether.
This option isn’t available to everyone just yet but will likely roll out to more brands in the future. For now, you can crack on with an awesome AR filter.
3. Make video more authentic
People don’t want to feel as though they’re being constantly bombarded with marketing messages from brands on social media.
90% of consumers say that authenticity is important when it comes to which brands they like and choose to support.
This means the content you create, and in particular the video you produce, shouldn’t be overly-edited. Otherwise, an Instagram video would look no different from a standard commercial.
Stories and Live videos are intrinsically more authentic because they’re more likely to be filmed off-the-cuff. But you should also think carefully about the type of video you add to your feed.
Behind-the-scenes videos show users the human side of your brand. This also increases consumer trust as it makes your company seem totally transparent.
Here, a handmade jewelry seller shows off a work in progress at their forge:
User-generated video is another way to build credibility. This is because of social proof – users are more likely to trust their peers than a company.
In this example, Glossier shares a compilation video of real people using and reviewing one of their products:
Be on the lookout for users who tag your brand in their videos. Then reach out and ask for permission to share their content.
All in all, any video that features day-to-day activity or real-life people is going to seem more natural to your audience.
4. Create an IGTV series
IGTV got off to a bit of a rocky start. But, when Instagram enabled IGTV previews in the feed, views increased by 300-1000%.
It’s likely that Instagram will continue to develop and improve the channel. And it’s certainly becoming more popular. Hence, there’s real potential for brands to take advantage of IGTV in 2020.
The social platform launched IGTV series in October 2019. Creating a series is now a trendy thing, and as a brand it’s a way to bring interesting content to your followers consistently.
Imagine a scenario where your audience waits excitedly for your weekly video. Or somebody gets to binge-watch a series from your brand.
To create your series, head to the IGTV channel and tap the plus sign. Upload your first video, and hit “Add to Series”. You’ll then be given the option to create your first series: How to create your own IGTV series
What makes for an effective IGTV video?
The first thing you need to do is to grab viewers’ attention from the very beginning. This is vital as you want to entice viewers from the preview to watch the entire video (and then maybe even your whole series).
You also need to add relevant hashtags to your series description. This enables users to discover your video even if they don’t follow your channel.
In terms of the content of your series, come up with an innovative idea around a theme. For example, Hootsuite has a series called Fridgeworthy, in which they share the best social media campaigns from brands every two weeks:
Or you could develop a series of tutorials that feature your product(s). HelloFresh, for example, has a series of cooking tutorials featuring recipes from their delivery boxes:
Get creative and come up with an idea for a series that will resonate with your audience.
5. Share Microblogs
They say a picture is worth a thousand words. But, lengthy captions give you the opportunity to express your brand voice, values and tell a deeper story.
What’s more, longer Instagram captions encourage greater levels of engagement. Add an intriguing, in-depth caption to your image and it’s more likely to elicit an interaction.
This, along with the demand for authentic storytelling, is why Instagram captions have more than doubled in length since 2016.
To make your brand stand out from the crowd, turn your captions into compelling microblogs. Take the time to plan your posts carefully. Consider what you really want to say to your audience before you find an image that fits.
For instance, Microsoft uses their Instagram account to inspire people. They talk at length about cutting-edge uses of technology and their vision of the future. Here’s a prime example:
Think about your objectives. Perhaps, you want to make people laugh, empower people, or create an atmosphere of trust. Make your captions embody your objectives.
Another way to enhance your Instagram posts would be to provide some real value to the user. At the end of the day, people can only look at pretty coffee art for so long before getting bored.
Give them something tangible that they can take away. Have your Instagram captions act as mini-guides with information and advice.
Here, Booking.com has a mini-guide on where you can see auroras:
This is a good example of how to pack your posts with useful information.
Explore microblogging in different formats on Instagram. You could try a mini list post, a recipe, or share research statistics – there are lots of untapped opportunities.
6. Change the Way You Work With Influencers
If you want to overtake your competitors in 2020 then it’s time to try something a little different and capitalize on new ways to work with influencers.
In April 2019, Instagram introduced a new feature where users can shop looks from influencers. This feature has since been expanded, and it’s a great way to take advantage of social commerce and promote products within the platform.
Another growing trend that should be on your radar is the emergence of micro-influencers. These are influencers with fewer than 10,000 followers.
The cool thing here is that more brands than ever will be able to work with influencers, as a micro-influencer’s rates are lower than big names.
And working with micro-influencers is particularly effective. Find somebody with a close-knit, niche audience that matches your own to drive qualified visitors to your account or website.
In one case study, Dunkin’, aka The Artist Formerly Known As Dunkin’ Donuts, used micro-influencers with as few as about 3,000 followers to raise brand awareness and increase engagement.
They successfully targeted a younger, digital-centric demographic by proving that they’re more relatable and real than other coffee brands. The above post had an engagement rate of 26.1%, which was five times the average result of this campaign.
What this teaches us is the importance of using influencers to reach the right audience. Create highly targeted campaigns using multiple micro-influencers to achieve better results.
As a channel that’s on the rise among brands and marketers, you seriously need to be on your Instagram game.
Your approach to standing out on Instagram in 2020 should be two-fold.
Firstly, you need to be cutting-edge and take full advantage of the platform's features. This means experimenting with interactive elements, IGTV video, and AR filters. Also, be ready for enhanced shopping features.
Second, adopt new ways to engage your audience. Strive for greater transparency and authenticity in every post. You might achieve this by sharing your brand’s story through captions or working with relatable micro-influencers.
Now it’s up to you to boost your impact on Instagram. The first step is to explore features you haven’t tried yet.
Editor's Note: This article was originally published on socialbakers.com. Any statistics or statements included in this article were current at the time of original publication.