As we move into the new year, it’s important to keep an eye out for trends and changes that are anticipated or are already here. When it comes to social media, this is even more true. Social media is a great way to foster the growth of your business and brand, so utilizing different platforms, and using them correctly, is even more critical than ever.
There are so many different social media platforms, and no two have the same best practices. And though there might be some overlap, you can’t apply the same exact strategy to every social media platform. One of the best platforms you can use for your business is Instagram. Instagram has many different ways to communicate with your audience, each with its specified best practices. Here are some of the best practices you can expect to see and implement in 2023.
Reels launched on Instagram in 2019, not long after the emergence of TikTok as a dominant force on social media. Since then, the capability and importance of Reels have drastically increased. Users can now make Reels that are up to 90 seconds long, and they’ve become the most important part of Instagram. Reels have their own specific set of best practices to follow in regard to a user’s entire Instagram page.
Post a lot of Reels
As stated before, Reels have become the largest and most significant feature Instagram offers to its users. Reel users gain more traction and more followers. A page can have 0 followers, and if they use the right sound or hashtag, they can get 20,000 views on one Reel and throw themselves into virality. Have we mentioned how important Reels are to your social media strategy?
Businesses should be posting Reels frequently. And if you are posting them, you should be posting more. A common criticism of Instagram is how Reel-focused the platform has become, losing its roots in photos. But as upset about this as we can be if anyone wants to succeed on Instagram these days they need to set aside their feelings and post as many Reels as they can produce.
Feature a Person
When making a Reel, consider featuring someone in it. Studies show that Reels featuring a human have a 25% higher click-through rate. There are a number of ways to feature people in Reels (for example, showing an employee making a product if you own a small business, or someone using your product). Using people in Reels keeps the mood casual, and avoids being too preachy or selly. Users don’t want to be sold products like infomercials.
Reels, like TikTok, has the option to add text to your videos. Not only is this beneficial for the 20% of Reels watched without sound, but text makes Reels accessible to those who are deaf and hard of hearing. It’s a great way to extend your reach on the platform, and it’s really simple to implement as well.
Use Trending Sounds
Similar to TikTok, Instagram Reels has options for videos to be accompanied by specific “sounds”. These sounds can be songs, or they can be audio from a viral video as well! These sounds often correlate with trends on the platform, so using them (and using them properly) will help boost your views and following. People can search out specific sounds and songs on Reels and watch all of the videos using that sound. With that information, it’s pretty clear why using trending sounds would be helpful for your social media efforts.
Try A Template
With certain audios, there are templates available for you to put the clips into. For people who are relatively unfamiliar with Instagram, or who aren’t quite comfortable with making their Reels by scratch, this is a great easy option that will keep you creating content.
Instagram Stories have been around since 2016. Stories have arguably gone through the most changes in their time on the platform. There are so many capabilities with Stories that businesses should be taking advantage of, here are a few best practices for utilizing Instagram Stories.
Instagram Stories provides a Plethora of sticker options for users, most of which are interactive. The list of these includes:
- Q & A
These stickers allow you to interact directly with your followers and get feedback for your business. Not only does it make your audience feel more connected to you, but it helps you improve your business and social media!
Highlights are a feature unique to Instagram Stories. Using Highlights, you can take some of the stories that you post and add them to different categories that stay permanently on your page. For example, if you do a meet the team story for each employee, you can add those all to a “Meet the Team” Highlight so that people who started following after the stories were posted can still see them.
Repost New Posts
One of the greatest advantages of Instagram Stories is that you can repost just about anything public to your story. Whether it’s a Reel you like, a post you’re tagged in, or one of your posts, they can be added to stories for a little extra exposure. If the post is interesting, users can access it right from the story. You can even hide hashtags behind the post to extend the reach of your story.
If we’re talking about Instagram, we should probably talk about the original post format, as that’s likely what most people are familiar with. While Reels are seeming to take over Instagram and be the dominant force for gaining followers, it’s important to still post normal Instagram posts. While people on the Discover page may not be as likely to see it, your followers will definitely see them on their feed. While you do want to gain new followers, it’s also crucial to maintain your current followers. Here are some ways to you optimize your posts:
Have a Consistent Style
This will be helpful across not only all Instagram posts, but your Instagram page, and any other social media you may have. Showing consistency of style across all of your platforms is a great way to not only brand your social media, but consistency keeps people from being confused. When you use inconsistent branding across Instagram, it’s hard for users to tell if it’s you without looking.
The way to combat this is by using a style guide. If you already have one for your branding, great! If not, you can quickly build one with the colors, graphics, and fonts that you want to use on your social media for anybody to reference when they post. You can also apply this across any platform that you use to create a coherent brand. Another tip: use the same templates for similar types of posts.
Be Careful With the Hashtags
Hashtags are a useful tool, but they can do more harm than good if you don’t know how to use them. Or if you use too many, or not enough. Over time, Instagram has been reducing the value of hashtags. Before, you would stick as many relevant hashtags as you could at the bottom, or in a comment on the post. But now, too many hashtags can actually hurt your chances of being seen. Best practice now limits you to around 3-5 hashtags, and those should be pretty specific as well. In fact, creating a branded hashtag is often something that is suggested by many websites. Creating a branded hashtag allows you to collect data on your follower base in a way that Instagram Insights can’t provide.
Be Thoughtul With Captions
Captions are extremely important for Instagram posts. While the caption itself has a character limit of 2,200, Instagram automatically hides any verbiage past the first two lines. This means that you need to make your point within those 135 ish characters. The longer your caption is, the less likely users are to read all of it. This means you have to be concise and catchy. Come up with a clever caption that drives your point with wit to get the most out of Instagram’s captions.
Add Alt Text to Posts
Did you think that alt text was just for normal websites? While Instagram automatically adds alt text to your pictures using AI, they allow you to go in and manually change the alt text. It’s like SEO, but for social media! Hootsuite has a great guide on how to add alt text to Instagram posts.
Pin Some Posts
Instagram has adopted yet another feature from TikTok: pinning. You can now pin your favorite or most valuable posts to the top of your Instagram profile. The benefit of pinning posts is that they’ll be the first ones that people see on your page. You can change the pinned posts any time that you’d like. Great options for posts to pin are giveaways, sale announcements, etc.
Instagram has changed drastically this past year, the main change being that Reels have taken over the platform. Based on the trends in 2022, we can only assume that Reels will continue to be dominant throught 2023. These best practices above are the best way to react to the changes Instagram has been making over the last year, and our best prediction for the upcoming year.
If you want to learn how Ascent can take over your social media, learn more here.