I'm Becki, the founder of Featherlite Studios! Welcome to the blog where I'll share my personal tips and tricks into all things photography, brand storytelling and marketing on Instagram!
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If you’ve been reading for awhile, you will know that my most recent series has involved one of my favorite topics, Instagram! If you’re new here, go ahead and take a look at my previous posts. There’s some good stuff in there that you won’t want to miss!
Today’s topic is all about utilizing the features on the Instagram app and breaking down those features for you. Did you know that Instagram rewards users that utilize all of the aspects of the app? Not that you’ll be rewarded with an actual prize, but by posting content in all aspects of the app, you will create more avenues for users to find you on the app!
The Instagram app has become a pretty complex platform compared to where it all began. What was once a simple app that helped the average person feel like a photographer, has become a place for sharing stories, videos, and of course, photos as it was originally intended (except without the crazy frames and overly processed filters)!
That being said, while performing well on the app and growing a following requires consistency of posts, content and the quality of your images (read more about this in my last post, here!), it is also important to utilize every aspect of Instagram in order to stay ahead of the pack and really gain traction in gaining a following. At the time that I am writing this, Instagram currently includes these main features.
Within those features, you have the option to post the following on your feed; a single photo, a carousel of up to 10 photos, a Boomerang, which is a fun 1-second video loop that does not have sound or a video up to 60-seconds in length. You also have the option to post a combination of the three – photos, videos, boomerangs into a carousel which is pretty cool!
Pro tip: Post a carousel with a photo that fits the aesthetics of your feed first and following that first photo “hide” relevant content that might not fit the look of your feed as a whole. This is a great way to keep your feed looking super consistent while posting those extra tidbits of content that don’t necessarily fit the aesthetic of your feed.
Posting to Instagram stories is something that doesn’t have to be as curated as your feed. However, big brands are taking this to the next level and you will see that their stories are definitely becoming more and more consistent with their brands. We’ll get into that another time, but for now, I just wanted to fill you in on the fact that this feature is great for sharing content at the spur of the moment. It is also great for involving your community with fun behind the scenes action that you aren’t going to post on your feed.
Stories can be in the form of a photo, a photo with text, handwriting, emojis, GIFs, etc, a 15-second video or a boomerang. It really is the most fun feature of Instagram and the sky is the limit with it! The other thing about Instagram stories is that they aren’t permanent. After 24 hours, they disappear from your stories never to be seen again…. Unless you want to keep them! Yes, Instagram decided to add a cool little feature where you can archive your favorite stories and save them into categories that are kept at the top of your feed.
This feature is made for live video streaming. It allows followers to witness what you are currently up to as well as interact with you in real time. Some of the ways they can interact with you include double tapping to send you hearts or by leaving you a comment(s). While you are using the live feature, you are able to see the feedback as it rolls in and if you wish to do so you can acknowledge the comments and give an answer back on the spot. Once you have finished recording the live video, it can no longer be seen by followers unless you decide to save it, which it will then be available for viewing for the following 24 hours.
Live is often used for tutorials or Q&A sessions in which you would like to address or educate your audience on a topic on the spot. It can also be used to give your followers a peek at what is happening behind the scenes, or in the spotlight(!) of something.
This is brand new to the Instagram platform. It is video based and is comparable to YouTube. However, it has been built with the mobile phone in mind and the fact that users are looking at their screens vertically, rather than the horizontal format of YouTube and the conventional TV. IGTV can be accessed through the Instagram app, but it also has its own app. I am curious as to if the separate app will stick around. Since we are already on the Instagram app, to me it seems easiest to utilize IGTV right then and there where it is super easy to be notified of new IGTV posts of those you follow through Instagram. I suppose we will see how all of this plays out over time!
Currently, IGTV allows for up to 60-minute videos which is a great way to get in-depth and post tutorials, reviews or whatever type of content you are interested in sharing. It is then kept in its own little place on the app until you delete it, unlike Instagram stories which disappear within 24 hours (unless of course, you add them to your highlight reel).
You might be wondering how I use each of these features. Every brand is different so this is what has worked for me and is just a guide. However, I do feel that the Instagram feed is still the top priority at the moment. Your feed is the easiest thing for users to see just by stumbling upon your account organically or through a hashtag. You will want to keep your content up to date and post as often as possible. If you aren’t posting regularly, your followers and potential followers will think you no longer exist and they’ll unfollow you. We definitely don’t want that to happen!
While every brand is different, each week my goal is to post 5 posts, one per day. I typically plan ahead and create a guide for what I will post each week. I always post them in real time so that I am able to engage with my followers and the rest of Instagram immediately after posting. This is the best time to engage, by the way, so I recommend posting manually versus using a scheduling system to do it for you. That being said, I’ll be the first to admit that there are days that slip by and I don’t end up posting anything. As much as I try to limit those days, I’m not going to hold it against myself either! I also do my best to limit my time on Instagram during the weekends. I just don’t put pressure on it, but if I’m inspired to share something, by all means, I will do so.
Second, I prioritize Instagram stories. This feature is easy to hop in and out of without having to commit too much time and you can be creative and allow yourself to post on a whim if you don’t have a ton of extra time to dedicate to the app at this time. Personally, I try to use stories a couple times a week and I will most likely use this feature on the weekends when I want to share something fun that is happening around me but it isn’t feed worthy. My goal is to utilize this feature more often and incorporate streamlined branded type material to the stories but that is still in the works at the moment.
Third, I prioritize IGTV, but only because it is so new and I am still building my strategy to make it work for me and my brand. This option, for me, is also going to be the most time consuming since I will want to create content that has been well thought out and makes sense to someone who lands on my channel. Chat with me again in a few months and we will see if this is still number 3! 🙂
Finally, I prioritize Live last. In the future, It is possible that I might begin to utilize it more but if you happened to catch my first IGTV episode you’ll know why it’s currently last on the list! 😉
Now that I’ve given you a little rundown of all the features that Instagram currently has to offer, you might feel a little bit overwhelmed. Trust me, it happens to the best of us! My advice is to start simple and once you feel more comfortable, explore! It is so easy to compare yourself to what others are doing or to worry about the algorithm but the truth is, create a plan that is manageable and stick to it!
Remember, consistency is key, so as long as you’re showing up and doing your best you’re going to do just fine! I just would not recommend posting a ton and then going MIA for weeks only to return again for another post or two before going on another hiatus. That type of behavior is confusing and doesn’t lend itself well when you’re trying to create a community.
The goal of using Instagram as a marketing tool is to represent your brand as a serious business that is alluring to potential customers! So, pick your favorite feature, and concentrate on that one first. Once you’ve gotten the hang of it, challenge yourself to try your hand at other features of the app and before you know it you’ll be a pro at every aspect!
I know that this has been a super brief rundown so if you have any questions at all, don’t be afraid to reach out! I’m always here to help in any way that I can!
And as always, fill me in on your progress! I would love to hear how far you’ve come in your Instagram storytelling journey!