Social media is a key part of any wider PR and marketing strategy, so it’s important to ensure that your business is staying up to date and utilising free and available tools whenever possible to bolster your brand.

At a time when the world is facing global challenges and economic uncertainty, Instagram is rapidly developing new features that are tailored towards its business users.

The social media app is notorious for constantly releasing new updates and removing features, so it can become hard to keep up with exactly which functionalities are out there and how they can benefit your brand.

To help you stay up to date with the latest Instagram developments, we have listed the most recent updates and explained how your business can benefit from them.

 

Support Small Business sticker

One of the most welcomed Instagram developments during the COVID-19 pandemic is its growing support for small businesses. The social media app introduced the ‘Support Small Business’ sticker which enables users to show support by advertising small businesses on their Instagram stories. Once your brand is mentioned on a sticker, you can repost the content to your story and direct message anyone who views it.

At a time when supporting local businesses for the sake of the economy is so important, Instagram really hit the nail on the head here. The tool has already proven to be extremely effective for many struggling businesses, helping them to stay connected to their customers whilst reaching new consumers at the same time.

 

Instagram Shop update

Instagram has announced that testing is underway for a new shop tab feature, allowing users the option to browse and buy from top brands and creators without leaving the app. The most significant aspect of this development is that it will involve the swapping of the activity (heart) icon on the navigation bar, to be replaced with the shop (basket) icon – representing a monumental shift in the purpose of the app. With a greater emphasis placed on e-commerce, Instagram is laying the foundations to be a potentially vital tool for future business transactions.

Whilst users can already purchase items on a brand’s website via a tagged link, this change will see businesses being able to sell their products and services entirely through the Instagram Shop app, potentially cutting costs for many smaller businesses, as well as streamlining purchases. It will also provide an excellent platform to both advertise your brand and sell products without customers having to go elsewhere. However, it has been suggested that a small selling fee will be implicated to brands using Instagram’s Checkout feature, which is something to keep in mind when considering utilising the app for sales.

 

Instagram Reels

Instagram has also announced the launch of ‘Instagram Reels’, a new short-form video feature expected to rival the app TikTok. Reels will allow users to record short videos with audio soundtracks and will exist inside the app’s Stories feature.

This year, many brands have hopped on board the TikTok bandwagon, using the platform to creatively showcase products and appeal to younger audiences. The announcement of ‘Instagram Reels’ comes following speculation that TikTok could soon be banned in the USA or sold. Therefore, TikTok users could migrate to ‘Instagram Reels’, providing brands and businesses with an alternative established platform to deliver creative video-based content.

 

Instagram Guides feature

The final feature announced is a new Instagram Guides element, which enables users to access curated content from specific brands and creators. In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the app is partnering with a small set of organisations around the world to create content focusing on ‘wellness’. Guides allows creators to merge a variety of content into one place under a certain category or topic. To view Instagram Guides, users can click on the new pamphlet-like icon on a participator’s profile, or search within a creator’s Story for mention of a new Guide.

The Guides feature is currently exclusively focused on mental health and wellness; however, it is likely to expand to cover a range of industries and content types. It is predicted that the feature could be extremely beneficial to brands and businesses, allowing companies to connect with consumers on a more authentic, targeted level.