Updated in november 2020
Instagram is currently one of the most popular and widespread social media platforms, and it has evolved into a useful tool for digital marketing and advertising.
The app has gradually developed from simple photo feeds to a larger hub for news, pop culture, blogger content, and promotions. Influencers and businesses alike have plenty of opportunities to market themselves through the variety of options that Instagram offers.
One of the newest and more exciting ways that this can be accomplished is through Instagram’s highlights feature. The function allows users to permanently save stories and content directly onto their profile. Highlights are a valuable tool, and brands can learn how to integrate the new feature into their digital marketing strategies. When used efficiently, highlights can be used to optimise customer experiences and create deeper and more meaningful connections between brands and their audiences. We have conducted research on the benefits of the Highlights feature. Here are a few ways that we’ve found brands can use the highlights feature to their advantage.
1. Spotlighting products
The first benefit of Instagram story highlights is the ability to draw attention to what is most important for your business, such as your products or services. Highlights are the perfect opportunity for a brand to immediately advertise their available products, as they provide a quick and easy way for a casual viewer to catch a speedy glimpse at what a company might have to offer. Additionally, the feature can be used to advertise a company’s ongoing sales or to provide tips and how-to’s for specific product lines. This way of using the highlights function can be particularly useful for clothing companies that want to display their attractive new garments.
Example: Global fashion brand, Fashion Nova, focuses on their ability to quickly ship worldwide, and their highlights are aptly dedicated to advertising their ongoing sales and products. They’re arguably using highlights in the most effective manner for their line of business.
2. Driving web traffic
Instagram stories allow users to implement the ‘Swipe Up’ feature, which can ultimately redirect traffic back to a brand or company’s site. The great thing about stories like these is that the Swipe Up function is still retained when they are added to highlights.
There are several ways in which highlights can be used to attract larger audiences to your brand. A few of the ways that brands and businesses can use highlights is to feature their latest blog posts, to share any user-generated content (UGC), and to showcase their other social media channels.
Example: Rolling Stone Magazine has done a wonderful job of utilising this feature to the fullest. By advertising each of their latest issues on their highlights, they’ve managed to transcend their original medium of a print magazine and boost their monthly content viewership. They’re keeping their audiences regularly updated on when they’re releasing.
3. Eliminating clutter
If a brand has a large amount of content that they’re posting on their page, then things can quickly get disorganised and cluttered. Highlights are the perfect way to keep everything organised and looking sleek. Users can even get creative with options to customise the highlights category covers. Attaching associated icons to each section will help set your brand stand out from the competition in an aesthetically-pleasing and brand-consistent manner.
Example: Home and garden site Jungalow has sorted all their content into separate Highlights, each with its own creatively designed cover. By doing this, Jungalow has made their content easy to navigate and attractive to the consumer’s eye.
4. Recap events and promotions
Another useful feature of highlights is its ability to tell stories. If a brand has just hosted a relevant event or promotion recently, then highlights are the perfect way to recap and give viewers a behind the scenes look. For a brand that regularly attends new events or is constantly on the go, this feature could be the perfect way to keep viewers in the loop on what they are up to.
Example: One brand that uses this feature incredibly well is New York Fashion Week. NYFW, as it is regularly dubbed, is typically broken up into several days of showings. As such, the brand usually has a ton of content at the end of the week that can be shown, but a lack of organisation has hindered them in the past from posting as much as they’d hope to. The highlights feature has allowed them to segment all their content from each individual day for viewers to easily watch in a streamlined manner.
New ways to use Instagram for your business in 2021
Brand x brand collaborations & partnerships
Instagram stories are the best tool to open up your business to influencers and other brands. You can easily connect with other Instagrammers from a relevant sector and team up for a collaboration. All brands involved benefit from this! For example, bloggers and influencers usually use Instagram stories to announce their paid partnerships with fashion and beauty brands. These collaborations normally lead to both businesses gaining new exposure.
Use the Instagram live function
Apart from Instagram stories, the social media platforms also offer a way for users to live stream videos to their followers. Unfortunately, when the live video ends, there is no way to replay it, as it will disappear from the feed. However, you can use this feature to gain exposure and more followers. When you go live your followers are notified that you have started a live stream. Using this feature often balanced with great content will increase your chances you to promote your brand.
Influence on people’s vote intention
Nowadays, a wide range of brands are using Instagram stories to inform their audience and establish a different approach. For example, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream has released a campaign to educate their audiences in the history of the US general elections. Using historical facts plus fun and attractive features, the brand is showing a new way of promoting its brand while calling US citizens to vote.
Use polls to interact with your audience
Your company can easily utilise polls to ask their followers anything. Use this feature to ask your followers’ opinions on new products, and what would they like to see from your brand on social media. Using polls is a very interactive way to generate engagement from your followers, or just to get to know them better. Polls enable you to display creative and original campaigns that are important for your brand or target audience.
The best way to call on new visitors
Instagram stories can be also a great resource to call people to visit a particular venue. For example, the Museum of Fine Arts, in Boston, uses the feature to bring its masterpieces to life. You might think that visiting a 17th-century art exhibition is not exciting, but this Instagram account will change your mind. Entertaining your audience with the use of funny quotes and memes can bring personality to your brand. Moreover, these strategies can create a serious impact in terms of gaining new museum lovers.
In a nutshell, highlights can offer brands an exciting new way to market themselves to the rest of the world. Highlights allow brands to post more content without cramming followers’ feeds or ruining their own personal profile’s aesthetic. The digital marketing sphere is ever-changing, and Instagram highlights allow for companies and brands to get more creative in how they are keeping their audiences engaged.