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Features to try out on Instagram this month

Features to try on Instagram this month for your small business

Instagram is always changing and adding new features, and with that the needs and preferences of users on social media continues to evolve. Staying up to date on the latest trends and new features on Instagram can help you stay relevant and keep your followers engaged. From Instagram Reels to insights to alt text, we highlight new features to try out on Instagram this month for your small business.

Features to try out on Instagram this month:

Tap to navigate to each section:

Keep reading to learn more about each of these Instagram features and how to use them for your small business.

Try out Instagram Reels

Instagram released Reels in 2020 as a brand new feature to compete with popular video creation and sharing app, Tik Tok. Instagram made a major navigation change to their app in late 2020 to accommodate their Reels and Shop features (see more on Instagram shops below), and they added more creator tools to Reels in December 2020, such as audio mix and voice over creator options.

But what are Instagram Reels? Basically, they're short 15 second informal videos that you can create about literally any topic and share with friends and in the explore feed (if your account is public).

As a small business, you can use Reels to connect with your customers, provide tutorials or product videos, create video content with tips and tricks, or share personal or business updates. The limit does not exist!

Read our full step-by-step tutorial on Instagram Reels to learn how to use this new(ish) feature.

Add music, polls, and countdowns to your Instagram stories

You may have some basic knowledge of Instagram stories, but did you know you can further customize stories with music, polls, and countdowns?

Add music to your Instagram stories

Next time you create a story that would be enhanced with its own soundtrack, try adding music to your story to level up your content game on Instagram.

To add music to your Instagram stories:

  1. Create your story.

  2. Tap the sticker icon at the top (squareish smiley).

  3. Choose the music sticker.

  4. Browse Instagram's extensive library of songs.

  5. Tap your song choice and share your story as usual!

How to add music to your Instagram stories
Source: Instagram

If you're not a fan of Instagram’s song selection, you can also look into the Ripl music catalog to add a music track to your next video.

Engage followers with polls in your Instagram stories

Including a poll in your Instagram stories allows you to engage with your customers on social media by asking them questions and receiving answers. You can use polls to gauge what type of content your followers like more, to gather opinions on new products, or just for fun!

How to make a poll on Instagram to engage your followers in your stories

Learn how to create polls and ideas for poll topics before getting started.

Try using a countdown in Instagram stories

Countdown to a product release, a live video, an event or holiday, or simply a fun lighthearted countdown to the weekend.

Instagram countdown to the weekend example on Ripl
Example of a countdown

To add a countdown to your next Instagram story:

  1. Create an Instagram story.

  2. Tap the sticker icon at the top (squareish smiley).

  3. Choose the countdown sticker.

  4. Customize the name, date, time, and color of your countdown.

  5. Tap your song choice and share your story as usual!

When viewing your countdown story, followers can tap the arrow in the corner of the sticker for a reminder or to share your countdown in their stories. When the countdown ends, you and those who turned on reminders for your countdown will receive a notification.

Switch to Instagram dark mode

With the latest update on your smartphone, you can enable dark mode for Instagram. Dark mode can be used simply as an aesthetic choice, or as a tool to save your phone's battery life.

How to enable dark mode for Instagram on your Android device:

  • Navigate to your phone settings.

  • Tap on "Display".

  • Enable "Dark Theme" from the options.

  • Launch Instagram. Dark mode should be enabled.

How to enable dark mode for Instagram on your Apple device:

  • Navigate to your phone settings.

  • Select "Display and brightness".

  • Tap "Dark" to change your phone's theme.

  • Launch Instagram. Dark mode should be enabled.

Dark mode enabled on Instagram on the Ripl profile page
Dark mode enabled on Instagram

Set up your Instagram shop

The most recent iteration of the Instagram Shop feature was released in late 2020 and featured a huge navigation change on the Instagram app. Instagram also released shopping tags to Reels in December 2020 and launched Instagram Live, IGTV Shopping, Instagram Checkout, and shoppable guides, further supporting their goals of bringing more e-commerce functionality to social media.

Set up your own Instagram shop to start making sales through Instagram.

Use Instagram Insights to track your performance

Instagram provides business accounts with a free tool called "Insights", which allows you to track metrics for your social media account. This data can help you inform decisions, track progress on your social media goals, and measure the impact of your marketing efforts on Instagram (PSA: there's also Insights on Facebook. You're welcome). Take a dive into Instagram Insights if you haven't already, and be prepared to get even better at social media strategy!

To use Insights...

You must have an Instagram business profile. Learn how to set up your Instagram business profile here.

To view Insights...

Tap the hamburger menu in the top right corner of your Instagram profile. Tap "Insights" on the menu. This will take you to a "Recent Highlights" page, where you can see your profile reach and content interactions. You can then navigate into any of these options to view more data.

You can also view insights on any one of your posts by navigating to that post, then tapping "View Insights" underneath the image. Swipe up to expand the window to view your post interactions and where users discovered your post on Instagram.

Ripl also offers engagement tracking on your social media content. You can see the number of engagements you have per Ripl post within our mobile and web apps.

Try out alt text on Instagram

Alt text, or alternative text, is becoming a hot topic on Instagram, and you may have noticed some brands or influencers you follow have started to use it. But what is alt text on Instagram, why is it important, and how do you use it?

Alt text may display when a photo is very slow to load, when using a browser for the visually impaired, or when using a screen reader that tells you what is on the image (using, you guessed it, alt text!).

Alt text is important for accessibility, as it allows screen readers to describe images to visually impaired users. Instagram automatically generates alt text for your posts, but it can often be misleading. You have the option to manually add alt text to Instagram photos to accurately define the content and context of an image being posted.

Alt text also has useful implications for SEO. It allows search features and search engines to more easily discover your content based on the description provided.

Learn how to write effective alt text on Instagram in our latest post.



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