Making the most of the new Instagram features

Instagram has brought along some exciting new features this month, such as the ability to follow hashtags and highlight your stories. This allows for a whole new way to use and grow your Instagram, and below I share the scoop on these now features, including how you can make the most of them!

How you can make the most of Instagram's new features

Update #1: Highlighted Stories

This update lets you keep your Instagram Stories on your profile for longer than 24 hours! They'll stay in your highlighted section until you remove them, which is a great way for you to not only take advantage of your best stories, but also to ensure that your followers (and potential followers) see what matters!

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In the photo above I have highlighted two stories to illustrate how this can be used. In each of the 'highlights' above, I've actually got several photos, each aligning with the theme of the highlighted title (which you can edit as you please).

The way this works is that when you click the '+ NEW' button on your profile, you get to choose from your latest stories. You can then pick the stories you want to highlight, and create a folder for them. You get to name the folder, and the name will show up under the highlight as you can see above.

I've named a test folder 'Winter', which showcases my latest winter snaps from Norway, and another simply 'Workworkwork'. As a blogger, it is important for me to show my audience that I actually do more than simply smile for the photos, and having a folder like that shows a different side of the pretty blogging world I seem to live in.

How can you use this feature to your advantage?

Think about what's important for you to showcase! If you did the Instagram Magic Challenge, you'll know that it's important to pick specific topics to share on Instagram. Why not create folders highlighting these topics?

If you sell a physical product, you could have a story/folder called 'Behind-the-Scenes', or 'Your Photos', where you share photos taken by your customers using your hashtags. Some other fun examples:

- A day in the life (share your entire day in this one, and leave it on your profile for a while)
- Meet the family (introduce your team, one by one!)
- My favourite accounts (share your favourite Instagram accounts)
- Let's be friends (tell your followers about yourself!)
- Your favourite photos (share your most liked photos from the past year)

Basically, think about what you want your followers and potential followers to know about you and your brand. Then make sure to have some kick-ass photos that showcase this - and highlight it!

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Update #2: Following Hashtags

This is a feature I've had for a little while, as Instagram often starts rolling out features and updates as 'tests' for some users before the official update. You can now follow hashtags as well as users on Instagram, and it's a great way to stay up to date with your favourite hashtags and subjects.

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If you have a brand hashtag where you encourage users to share their photos using your hashtag, you can (and should) follow it! This way, the most popular photos in the hashtag should show up natively on your timeline, amongst photos from those you follow.

This also works for competitor's hashtags (or simply hashtags that inspire you and align with your brand and vision) and will help you get a better image of what works and what doesn't on Instagram. This will work as an inspiration to you, and you'll always stay on top of what other people are sharing.

Do you have any questions about these new Instagram features? Leave them in a comment below! 

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