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Have you been using Instagram all wrong?

The CEO of Instagram, Adam Mosseri, recently revealed some shocking insights about the platform in an interview that changes the game for business owners trying to leverage the platform.

Back in the day, Instagram was synonymous with meticulously curated grids, where every photo had to be a masterpiece. But times have changed. And unless you have been living under a rock, most small businesses would know that video content has now risen to the helm of the platform’s top-performing content.

But here’s the kicker: according to Mosseri, the feed itself, made up of content posted to the a profile’s grid, is no longer the area of the platform that drives the most engagement. Not even close.

Over the past half-decade, Instagram’s exponential growth hasn’t been fueled by meticulously crafted feed posts or even highly engaging videos in this section. Instead, the vast majority of the growth has been achieved within stories and direct messages (DMs). Let that sink in for a moment.

Even if your business’ grid is well thought out, with consistent posts, a visual masterpiece and your video content is top-notch, if you’re neglecting your stories and DMs, you’re essentially leaving Instagram’s growth potential untapped. It’s a harsh truth many small businesses overlook. See, most small-business owners still view Instagram primarily as a feed-centric platform. But that perception couldn’t be further from the truth. In reality, the feed is maybe the third most important feature at best.

Think about it: when was the last time you engaged meaningfully with a brand solely through their feed posts? Chances are, it’s been a while. But stories? DMs? That’s where the magic happens. It’s where connections are forged, conversations unfold, and relationships begin to grow.

So, if you’re serious about thriving on Instagram this year, it’s time to adjust your strategy and embrace the full spectrum of what the social platform has to offer. Don’t just focus on crafting the perfect video and still content for your grid alone. Instead, prioritise authentic interactions through stories and DMs. Here’s how:

  1. Engage with your audience through Stories
    Instagram stories are an interactive way to engage with your audience. Showcase behind-the-scenes content, run polls, ask questions and reply to story DMs to foster a sense of community.
  2. Use Direct Messages (DMs) to connect on a personal level
    DMs can be an intimate way to connect with your audience. Answer queries, share personalised content, and thank your followers for their support. This goes a long way to make people feel special and valued, making your brand more memorable.
  3. Collaborate with influencers and like-minded accounts
    Collaboration can boost your reach. By tagging other accounts in your stories or getting together with a new offer, you increase chances of exposure as well as reach a brand new audience if they re-share.
  4. Create a ManyChat flow
    This one is a little more advanced, but small businesses can set up automations on posts that drive people to your DMs by commenting on the post in exchange for a free resource. Check out this post for a live example. When you comment ‘MASTERCLASS’ in this post you will get the automated DM flow and see it in action.

These mindset shifts can yield remarkable results. By harnessing the power of stories and DMs, you’re tapping into the real growth on Instagram – the human connection. Because in the end, it’s those genuine, one-on-one connections that drive trust and demonstrate authenticity to make Instagram a platform that will drive a return on investment.

This story was originally published on Inside Small Business.

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