Two weeks ago Instagram introduced a new feature called Close Friends.
Now users can share their Instagram Stories with a handpicked group of followers—with their “close friends,” if you will.
In the words of Instagram:
"Starting today, you can make a close friends list on Stories and share with just the people you’ve added. Instagram Stories has become the place to express yourself and share everyday moments, but our community has grown and sometimes what you want to share isn’t for everyone. With Close Friends, you have the flexibility to share more personal moments with a smaller group that you choose."
At first glance, the Close Friends feature definitely seems more relevant to personal accounts than business ones.
I mean, it's easier to think of moments in your personal life that you'd be more inclined to keep private...
But there are lots of ways for businesses to leverage a Close Friends list, because when you think about it, it's essentially just another way to curate content for specific audiences.
And we all know how important personalization is:
"According to a study by Cloud IQ, 69% of consumers want an individualized experience.
And, if their dealings with a brand are below their expectations when it comes to personalization, 41% will take their business elsewhere." — Growth Hacker
Here are 8 different ways to customize your business' Close Friends list on Instagram.
You could make it a list of:
1. Your customers: Add all of your current customers to your Close Friends list for a more intimate way to thank them for their business, share aspects of your employee culture, or offer free tickets to your events.
This would also be a great way to ensure you're keeping up to date on following your customers in the first place (a great retention move).
2. Your VIP customers: Take it a step further on the exclusivity front and only add your VIP customers to your Close Friends list.
VIP lists, a type of tiered program, are great for driving retention and acquisition because they make customers feel special.
Note that this will be easier to implement if you already have a loyalty program in place; if you don't, you could consider running a campaign where users could opt-in to become a member of your fan club for a specific perk.
3. Your B2B or B2C followers: We know that there are key differences between B2B and B2C marketing.
So, how about making your Close Friends list B2B or B2C-specific? Depending on your business, of course.
That way you’d be able to tweak your messaging (e.g. more emotional for a B2C list, more logical and ROI-focussed for a B2B list), as well as provide more relevant content.
For example, if you had a Close Friends list for your retailers, you could:
- share inspiration or tips on how to best market your product or service
- offer them wholesale discounts
- let them know about distributor promotions
- ask for product feedback (e.g. quality, popularity, best selling items)
- get the inside scoop on how your distributor is managing your product
4. Fellow trade show exhibitors: While we're on the topic of B2B lists, why not make a Close Friends list for your next industry-only trade show and include all of the exhibitors present?
That way you can share knowledge about your booth number, booth happy hour, and so on with people who can actually do something with the information.
Plus, it might open up the door to more collaborations... as the people engaging with your custom stories are likely close by and happy to connect.
5. Your event registrants: When people sign up for your next event, why not ask them for their Instagram handle? You could then make a list of all of your event registrants and share updates and special offers over Instagram (versus the usual email reminder).
It would be a great (and new) way to engage with people before showtime, share logistical updates, and even connect with people one on one—all of which would increase retention and engagement.
6. Your influencers: If you're in the business of working with influencers, creating an influencer-specific Close Friends list would be a streamlined and hyper-visual way to share product updates, upcoming contests, products in the pipeline, and more.
You could also share success stories from other influencers promoting your product for inspiration.
7. Your employees: Consider using the Close Friends feature to share your business' internal news. You could:
- Share info about products or features so your whole team is up to date (e.g. we're sold out of [insert your awesome product].)
- Remind people about team activities (e.g. It's the last week for the food drive.)
- Share administrative details (e.g. holiday hours)
8. Your actual friends and family: This one is especially relevant for all of the entrepreneurs/business owners out there.
If your personal Instagram account is tied to your business, as in the case of RTOWN’s CEO, Luke Aulin, you could use the Close Friends feature to actually make a list of your closest friends and family (riveting, I know).
That way you'd avoid the hassle of having 2 Instagram accounts and you'd be able to freely share content that's perhaps less... public-facing.
A few key details to keep in mind before you begin to play around with your business' Instagram Close Friends list:
- You can only have 1 Close Friends list. Bummer, we know. But, if we had to guess, we'd say Instagram will likely add the ability to have more than one list soon.
Users know if they’re on your Close Friends list; they'll see a green ring around your profile photo on their story list if they’re on it.
No one can see your Close Friends list. It's private to you.
It’s a one-way street. Users can’t add themselves to your list.
Move over Close Friends. Say hello to Close Customers, Close Retailers, Close Employees and more.
Instagram's new Close Friends feature is a fresh and highly visual way to personalize your content. And with almost 60% of consumers saying that personalization significantly influences their purchasing decisions, it's sort of a no-brainer to at least give it a shot.
Need even more incentive? Your business will arguably be on the leading edge of Close Friends experimentation, seeing as the feature is just two weeks old.
Here's how you do it.
How to add close friends on Instagram
RTOWN specializes in helping local businesses with all things digital marketing—including how to get a solid ROI from Instagram. Of course, leveraging the Close Friends feature is one of may ways to increase engagement. We've got plenty more tricks up our sleeve. Let's talk.
Want one of our digital marketing experts to take a look at your company's social media presence?