Over the past few months, Instagram has announced three new features that are set to accelerate Instagram marketing—Instagram Threads, Instagram Restrict, and Instagram Product Launch.
While Product Launch is still being actively tested, Instagram Threads and Instagram Restrict are a big deal for marketers and brands using Instagram to promote their brands, businesses, and products.
Ready to find out more?
Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about these three exciting features and what they mean for your online brand engagement:
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Stories meets direct messages!
On October 2, Facebook launched Instagram Threads, a new stand-alone, camera-first messaging app that enables you to stay connected to your close friends and family.
At first glance, Instagram Threads looks a lot like your Instagram direct messages.
Admittedly, this was done intentionally.
Instagram Threads is meant to be a companion app to Instagram.
To use it, download it separately on the App Store or Play Store. Log in with your Instagram credentials.
Next, it will import your list of “Close Friends”—a feature Instagram introduced late last year. This feature lets you select a handful of people to see content visible to them only.
Only the people on your Close Friends list show up in Threads, so those are the only people who will be able to engage with you on the platform.
If you don’t have a Close Friends list already, you can create your Close Friends list on Threads.
Threads makes it even faster than Instagram to share a photo or video with your close friends. It opens directly to the camera so you can share what you’re doing in just two taps.
In addition, you can turn on Auto Status (🚗 On the move). This automatically shares little details on where you are without giving away your exact location.
There are also preset statuses such as 📚 Studying or you can create your own (😅 Procrastinating).
Again, only your close friends will see your status.
You may wonder why you need yet another app.
But think about it.
How many times have you posted a picture which was meant for your girlfriends or family members, only to see your colleague from work comment on it?
The whole point of Close Friends is to remove the unintentional posting of private moments publicly by making sure you are just sharing such moments with an intimate group.
All in all, Instagram Threads will give you the ability to fully control who can reach you.
You’ll be able to quickly access the people you message most and passively connect throughout the day, even if you’re not actively chatting with your friends.
So what does Instagram Threads mean for your brand?
You’re probably wondering just how this very-intimate-sounding app is going to be of any help to your brand.
Well, you do have a bit of a point.
Instagram Threads may not hold a ton of potential for your Instagram marketing strategies right off the bat, but there’s a good chance this could change in the long term as was the case with Instagram Stories.
Did you know that one-third of the most-viewed Stories are from businesses?
Here are a few ways your business can use a Close Friends list on Threads to increase engagement:
- Offer exclusive content. Create a list of VIP members who you only show specific content to. For instance, you can offer early access to new products or features to your most loyal customers.
- Engage influencers. Use a social monitoring tool such as Keyhole to find top influencers to work with.
- Then create a Close Friends list consisting of these influencers and share information they can use to help grow your brand.
- Now you don’t have to email each influencer separately, saving you tons of time.
- Localize your content. If you own multiple stores or offices in different locations, create a close friends list for a particular geographic area.
- This way you can share localized content with a particular list.
- For example, if you’re having a sale in just one store you can share these details with the list of users or influencers you know from that location—without bothering the rest of your fans.
The hard task will be to get people to add you to their Close Friends lists because most users are unlikely to add business accounts to their close friends’ list right now.
If you continuously offer and provide value to your fans, it is definitely achievable.
Have you ever found yourself dealing with negative comments on your social profiles? You delete the comments but they just keep commenting. Aargh!
Now you can permanently deal with such accounts, at least, on Instagram.
In October, Instagram launched its “Restrict” feature that allows users to shadow ban comments on their posts.
The new feature is meant to be an anti-bullying tool that lets you “quietly” protect your account from unwanted interactions.
Restricting an account is as easy as swiping left on one of their comments and clicking on ‘Restrict’.
You can also restrict someone directly from their profile page or in the Privacy section in Settings.
Once you restrict an account, comments on your posts from that account will only be visible to the commenter.
If you want to see the comment, tap “See Comment;”.
If you restricted them in the first place for offensive comments then you’re better off ignoring future comments from them.
The best part about this feature is that you won’t receive any notifications for comments from a restricted account.
Any Direct Messages from a Restricted account will be sent to Message Request inbox, and you will not get any notifications of messages from Restricted accounts.
You can toggle and unrestrict accounts at any time.
Instagram Restrict is quite similar to Facebook’s ‘Hide Comment’ option, which allows you to get rid of unwanted comments on your account, leaving it visible only to the original commenter and their friends.
‘Restrict’ however, goes a little further, in that no one else, even their friends, can see the comment other than the commenter.
The main goal of Restrict is to prevent unwarranted conflict between the commenter and account owner by simply shadow blocking bullies or harassment instead of blocking them completely.
We know what you’re thinking, we’re thinking it too…
Bullies deserve to be blocked completely. Forever.
Instagram CEO Adam Mosseri explained this in an interview on Today show.
According to Mosseri, when asked why someone would choose not to block a bully, most people, especially teenagers, said that this often can escalate the situation.
Restrict remedies the situation by not completely blocking someone, but still shields users from negative comments.
How will Instagram Restrict help your business?
Businesses aren’t spared from bullies or negative comments.
Often, unscrupulous businesses will use bully tactics to attack competitors.
This can really affect engagement on your account as people will often be put off by hateful content in any form,
By restricting people spewing hateful content on your account you can spare your fans from the hate and keep your feeds clean.
Use social listening tools such as Keyhole makes it easy to find accounts that are mentioning your brand negatively, especially if you have high volume social accounts.
Instagram Product Launch
Hey B2Cs! Here’s an Instagram feature that will really tickle your fancy.
Instagram has been adding features to make it easier for people to shop right from the platform, from shopping stickers in Instagram Stories to their native checkout feature which lets you buy products without ever leaving the app.
According to a blog on Instagram Business, the platform is about to take online shopping to a whole new level.
The company is testing a new feature to inform users of upcoming product launches.
The idea behind the new feature is to have a product launch sticker in Instagram Stories and a product launch tag in-feed posts.
Details of this new feature are still scanty, but it seems that businesses will be able to add a product launch countdown sticker in their Instagram Stories.
The product launch tag in-feed, on the other hand, will enable followers to set reminders for the launch date, preview product details, and purchase as soon as the product is available— all without leaving the platform.
Now here’s the cool part.
When the time is nearly up, anyone who had set a reminder for the product launch will receive a notification on their device. Your followers don’t even need to be in the Instagram app to be reminded of your product launch.
Now imagine how many sales you’ll be able to drive in your next product launch on social media!
For now, only a handful of brands in the US are part of this beta test. You can see the list here.
Why Instagram Product Launch?
Instagram Product Launch will, hands down, open up enormous potential for e-commerce businesses selling physical goods via the Instagram shopping platform.
Two things have been driving sales in the current online marketing era: FOMO (fear of missing out) and anticipation. People don’t want to be left out, especially where new trends are concerned.
But at a time when the business competition is so fierce, how do you get people excited about a new product?
Truthfully, product launches can be tricky. Don’t you think so?
If you announce your launch too far in advance, the hype will possibly wear off by the time it goes live for purchase.
On the other hand, if you don’t build enough excitement, the launch might be overlooked.
In comes Instagram Product Launch—which will offer the perfect balance and help you turn a simple everyday product release into a huge event that will result in huge initial launch sales.
Instagram Product Launch may be in the testing stage, but as has been the norm with the platform, we’re hopeful for a wider roll-out soon, giving more businesses a chance to scale their sales.
Stay on the lookout!
Instagram Threads, Instagram Restrict, and Instagram Product Launch may be at very early stages for any concrete effects on your brand.
However, these three Instagram features will bring a huge boost to your sales and engagement in the near future.
So give it a whirl!
Start using Instagram Threads and Instagram Restrict right now and see how it goes.
Don’t forget to be on the lookout for the global release of Instagram Product Launch!