How to Schedule Social Media Posts Effectively
By Sandra BuschSep 14
Published May 17th 2021
Instagram Stories are the popular kid in school. Everyone knows them, everyone likes them, and they keep spreading new trends that people want to jump on. But Instagram Stories are way more popular than any prom king or homecoming queen – hundreds of millions of people use them every day.
And marketers on Instagram have recognized how powerful they can be. That probably has a lot to do with two things: Instagram being backed by Facebook and their powerful Ads Manager, and the awesome features for Instagram Stories they’ve been pumping out nonstop.
In this post we’ve compiled seven great features you can make the most of. We'll also break down some simple tips for implementing them in your social media marketing strategy.
We’ll cover these new Instagram Stories updates:
So, let’s get into it, shall we?
Don’t worry, the Instagram camera we all know and love is still there.
Now, it’s just revamped with a completely new Create Mode, allowing people to create content without sharing photos or videos.
You can (finally) attach Gifs via Giphy, repost Stories you’re tagged in, and create countdowns to important events. Popular Story features like drawing, polls and question boxes are also available, making this a great option for anyone who wants to create text-based content without taking a photo or video first.
And what’s more—Instagram has added an “On This Day” button, pretty much making #ThrowbackThursday an official thing.
The update is also a bid to align features across platforms: the”On This Day” function has been a popular feature on Facebook since 2015.
With this new update, it’s becoming clear that the best camera for Instagram might just be, well, the in-app camera itself.
So, how to use the new Instagram update?
If you’re using question stickers, here’s how to reply:
One of the newer kids on the block is the Instagram Close Friends List function. While it does look like a feature meant primarily for private users, brands are slowly starting to see its value, too.
Basically, the feature allows you to post stories that are visible exclusively to the people on the list. You can edit the list at any time, and friends are never notified when you add or remove them. And just like regular Stories, the post will be visible for only 24 hours.
Stories on the Close Friends List come with a green circle, which is displayed on your profile and in the Stories queue on your feed, instead of the pink circle of regular of Stories.
And if someone has shared a Close Friends List Story with you, you’ll see their Story with a green circle, too. Close Friends Stories will often appear at the beginning of the Stories queue, so you’ll notice them quickly.
This feature has a ton of potential for marketers. Here are just some of the ways marketers can use it:
It’s no secret that social businesses and mission-driven brands are doing very well today.
Just look at Toms. The company makes simple espadrilles, but they’ve grown into a widely recognized global brand with over 60 million shoes sold to date. We say their buy-one-give-one model has a lot to do with their success.
With people being more socially and environmentally conscious than ever, it is no surprise that Instagram unveiled their donation sticker feature this year.
Basically, the feature brings fundraising to the masses. Anyone is now able to collect donations for NGOs, and the funds will be transferred directly into their accounts.
And what’s even better is that Instagram is covering 100% of the credit card and processing fees.
Last year, Instagram brought shoppable tags to Stories.
This one was a pretty major announcement for any digital marketers working in e-commerce. Before this, shoppable tags were only available to select retailers for use in feed posts.
What’s new in 2020? Well, now shoppable tags are available influencers, athletes, artists, celebrities and other public figures.
You heard that right, you can now shop the wardrobe of your favorite influencer.
The feature works just like all other Shoppable tags: public figures can tag products in Stories and in feed posts. Followers can then buy the products directly on Instagram.
It’s clear why this is a big deal for brands: shoppable tags highlight their products in one of the trendiest, most engaging formats available on social media right now.
And with this new update, influencer marketing will become an even more powerful strategy, as followers can now buy products directly from influencers.
According to a press release from Instagram, both creators and brands will receive shared insights of the performance of posts.
All in all, this means higher conversion rates, more traffic for your Instagram account and website, and better ROI from your social media marketing efforts.
Of course, getting your catalog set up and approved is the hard part—but once that’s done, it’s unbelievably easy to implement shoppable tags in your Stories. You can tag up to five products in a single image post, or up to 20 in a carousel post.
Last year, Instagram made waves when it finally opened up the creation of Augmented Reality (AR) filters to the public.
The face filters are created using Facebook’s Spark AR Studio, which up until this summer was only open to brands and professional AR creators.
The feature is already hugely popular. According to Mark Zuckerberg, more than a billion people have used experiences created with the AR studio so far.
What’s more—there seems to be an emerging industry developing around AR filters. Top creators of Instagram face filters are already paid big bucks by brands who want to engage with particularly Gen Z and Millennials.
As an example, Kylie Cosmetics created Instagram story filters allowing users to try on lipstick shades, and the NBA created a slam-dunking basketball player filter, that users could add to their Stories.
We say this feature is here to stay, and you’ll likely see many new face filters on Instagram in the future.
Instagram has a music feature, and it’s pretty much what it sounds like.
The feature was released last year in some key markets, like the US. This year brought good news for marketers in Europe: music stickers for Stories were rolled out to seven new markets—the Nordics, the Netherlands, Romania, and Slovakia.
Instagram music stickers allow users to have their favorite songs play in the background of their Story. No more awkwardly quiet Stories—and you can even pick the section of the song that serves as your soundtrack.
Another new addition is a feature allowing users to post song lyrics along with their songs.
For brands, this isn’t going to be a way to boost your ROI or make sales. However, it’s an extra feature in your toolkit you can use to make your Stories more engaging and entertaining for your audience.
The right song with the right image can make your brand message all the more memorable, too—so this is one new Instagram feature worth experimenting with.
With an archive containing thousands of songs, Instagram is almost a music app in its own right. You’ll definitely find something for every mood here.
TikTok has become quite the sensation, even surpassing Instagram on the app store. While still mainly popular among younger users, the swift rise of the app has probably made Instagram’s execs more than a little nervous.
In the past, we’ve seen Instagram respond to competition by launching similar features in its own app. The most notable example occurred when Instagram launched its Stories feature, which was originally popularized by Snapchat.
That’s why it doesn’t come as a big surprise that Instagram is now taking on TikTok by introducing its “Reels” mode.
With this update, Instagram users can create 15-second video clips set to music and share them as Stories. Clips also have the potential to go viral on a new “Top Reels” section on the Explore page. Much like TikTok, the feature will have a vast music database and creative editing options, like varying playback speed and ‘ghosting’ (not the post-date kind), which enables users to create more seamless scene transitions.
What does this mean or marketers? If Reels takes off, brands will have the opportunity to form partnerships that leverage experience-driven engagement, creativity, and self-expression that audiences, especially Gen Z, prefer.
The Instagram update is currently available only in Brazil, but you can probably expect it rolled out to new markets soon.
With the impressive number of new features and updates Instagram has already released for Stories, it’s no surprise that they’ll be pumping out even more in the near future.
For one thing, you can probably expect even more face filters and other cool augmented reality camera effects going forward.
Another feature reportedly in the works is replying to stories with a Gif, discovered by “app whisperer” Jane M. Wong. It’s worth keeping an eye on her Twitter if you want to be the first in the know of potential up-and-coming features.
Music features in Stories are on the rise as well, so it wouldn’t surprise us to see more music app integrations in the near future—after all, Spotify is already on board.Instagram’s partnership with Spotify could mean even more music features for Stories around the corner.
Finally, in this period where parent company Facebook is increasingly monetizing its software products, we can expect to see shoppable tags in Stories continue to evolve and gain new features, especially with regards to native shopping and in-app purchases in Instagram.
All in all, now is a better time than ever for brands to take advantage of the latest Instagram Stories features, both paid and organic.
But whether you’re publishing Stories natively or from an SMM platform, they’re a feature you can’t afford to ignore in today’s social media landscape.