How to get Instagram’s latest updates working for your agency
One of the updates that Instagram has made has been its introduction of the ‘Guides’ feature, which allows users to create blog-style posts containing photos and captions. For agencies, this presents an opportunity to get some thought leadership across in their profiles.
“Adding perspective to an Instagram page, [via] blog articles and thought leadership pieces, can be really good for insurance agents because they can establish themselves on the platform in ways they previously couldn’t,” said Zach Weeks, content marketing specialist at Insurance Technologies Corporation (ITC).
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Instagram has also updated its search function. While it always had this feature, the new and improved search bar now includes keywords. That means that if someone was looking on Instagram for something related to insurance or had heard about a specific insurance-related page, they can type in those keywords, whereas before, the search function focused purely on usernames, hashtags, and locations.
Reels are another newer feature, added by Instagram in August 2020. Reels invite users to create short videos to share with their followers, and represents Instagram’s attempt to compete with TikTok and Snapchat. Agencies can add these videos to their profiles and have them appear in their feeds to entice users to watch and engage with different types of content. When used with the Stories feature, Reels can help agencies show their users more about their businesses and how they differentiate themselves in the marketplace.
Moreover, “This is valuable for insurance agents because it allows them to add a fun element to their Instagram profiles, which is really what Instagram is all about,” explained Weeks. “With Guides, it’s getting a little closer to something you spend more time on and read about businesses, but it’s really meant to be a lighter, more fun relationship-building tool.”
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There has also been a new algorithm update on Instagram recently, which now prioritizes the most relevant content for users, instead of sorting content in chronological order. Relevancy is determined by the content’s relationship with user interests, as well as their location, and their friends’ or followers’ interests.
“Say you’re posting really good content that your users are engaging with – you are actually going to continue to have those good engagement numbers because you’re going to be at the top of their feed,” said Weeks.
The key aim of all of these updates is to have users stay on the Instagram application for a longer period of time. If agencies aren’t using Instagram already, this is the time to jump on the platform and get started with posting content, or risk getting left behind.
“If you’re going to break into Instagram, keep it light, helpful, and fun,” said Weeks. “It’s really important that if you’re new to Instagram, start with some ‘splash’ content [that grabs people’s attention] … You need to be able to get to the top of users’ feeds so that you’re actually hitting their scrolls at the time that they’re on the app.”
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Weeks recommends that agencies create short video content, which is doing well on the app right now, and also throw in a few contests or other content that boosts engagement with the agency’s profile. Finally, he notes that agencies should watch their data.
“See how much engagement you’re getting – that’s especially important with Stories,” he continued. “If you’re getting direct messages or a lot of shares, then your Stories are going to appear closer up in the feed and the same thing goes for your typical feed content.”
A few final tips from Weeks for Instagram users who are new to the platform or those who have been on the app for a while: never post content without captions, since videos and photos with captions always get higher engagement; don’t overuse or misuse hashtags – somewhere between five and seven is the right amount; and always engage with comments on your content.