Instagram unveils its ‘Close Friend’ feature: How this could benefit the social media marketing strategies of 2019

By: Ellan Dineen

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On November 30, Instagram launched its “Close Friends” feature, which allows users to share their stories with a select group of people, instead of having to share them with the entirety of their followers. “With Close Friends,” Instagram says, “you have the flexibility to share more personal moments with a smaller group that you choose.” Instagram’s director of product, Robby Stein, says the new option will give you and your close friends “your own place,” where you can “really be yourself and connect and be connected to your best friends” without having to worry about “curating for the largest possible distribution.”

For the average user, this new option sounds like a fantastic way to keep your best friends in the loop—but how can it be used to benefit your business? At first glance, the answer may seem difficult to imagine. However, there are plenty of ways to leverage the Close Friends feature to your brand’s advantage. Close Friends will allow you to segment your followers so that you can create the most effective strategy for each audience. The following article provides some specific examples of how marketers can incorporate Close Friends into their strategies for the year ahead.

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1. Use Close Friends to reach your general customers

Want to reach the people that matter most to your business? Creating a positive customer experience is one of the best things you can do to increase profits. In fact, “65% of buyers find a positive experience with a brand to be more influential than great advertising.” Furthermore, it’s predicted that customer experience will overtake both product and price as the key brand differentiator by 2020. Creating a personalized experience is one important way to improve customer experience. Use the Close Friends feature to keep in touch with your customers and engage them on a more personalized level. Keep them updated on promotions, build excitement over launches or events, share things like company news, behind the scene footage, logistical information, new appointments, and anything else that might be of interest to them. 

2. Use Close Friends to reach a VIP group or paid subscribers

Does your brand have a VIP group for valued customers? Perhaps you offer a paid subscription service? Use Close Friends to communicate with these customers, keeping them updated on special offers, or providing them with exclusive news and content. This is also a great outlet to start a referral program and encourage your VIP members to recommend your products to their friends, giving them incentive to do so.  A 2015 study by Nielsen found that recommendations from friends is the most credible form of advertising.

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3. Use Close Friends to reach your retailers or other B2B’s

With Close Friends, your business can easily communicate with retailers or other B2B clients. Keep these groups informed, and reach them instantly and in real-time regarding positive and potentially problematic events. For example, use the feature to advertise new products they might be interested in, wholesale deals, and company announcements, and to relay information about any production delays, shipping issues, or other events that may affect them. 

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4. Use Close Friends to reach your employees

Forget those boring office email chains! Take your business into the digital age by using the Close Friends feature to communicate with your employees in a much more engaging and interesting way. Studies have shown that companies with engaged employees make 2.5 times more revenue than their competitors with disengaged workers. Additionally, 87% of employees are less likely to leave their companies if they’re highly engaged. Let those that work for you know about company news, policy updates, and other relevant information. You can also use this feature to provide training, send reminders to your employees, or help boost their morale with positive feedback and encouragement. 

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5. Use Close Friends to reach event attendees

If you’re hosting an event, chances are that at some stage, you’ll have to communicate with your attendees. Use Close Friends to give them practical information on the venue, location, and itinerary. This will also be a helpful tool for getting guests excited about your event and generating a “buzz” in the lead up to it. Perhaps you can offer some insight into the exciting things they can expect during the event, and leave them eagerly anticipating the day. 

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6. Use Close Friends to reach local businesses

This is a great way to connect with local businesses around you. Being in close proximity means you’re likely to share some of the same concerns as these other businesses. Use Close Friends to communicate those concerns, ask for assistance, relay information, or voice your opinions on happenings in the area. Maybe there’s been a string of break-ins that you want to ensure nearby businesses are aware of, or maybe you’re hosting an event together and you want to keep them updated on the progress. Perhaps you’re undergoing renovations and want to thank those around you for their patience during the noisy time, or maybe you’re new to the neighborhood and would just like to introduce your business and say hello. 

7. Use Close Friends to reach your influencers

It’s the age of social media, and if your brand is one that works with influencers to promote your products, Close Friends is a great way to communicate with them. You’ll be using a platform your influencers are comfortable with and already use on a daily (if not hourly) basis. Let them know what products you want them to push, the promo codes they can offer your followers, the types of messages you want to send, the bonuses you may be offering to help motivate them, or your list of do’s and don’ts. If you want influencers to market your brand effectively, they first need to understand your brand and the people behind it. Close Friends will help your influencers get to know you, and the heart of your business. 

The newly-launched Close Friends feature is already a win for marketers, but it will be interesting to see how it develops over the months to come. How else will marketers use this to their advantage? Which brands will utilize Close Friends most efficiently? What other features may Instagram add or improve? In this highly digital, fast-paced world of business, it’s great to have another tool to add to your marketing arsenal.

To start 2019 off with the best possible marketing strategy for your business, get in touch with the Clever Mouse Marketing team today!


About the Author

profile picture ellan (1)Ellan Dineen is the Marketing Associate at Design Wizard. When she’s not hard at work in the Marketing Department, Ellan can be found en route to foreign lands with a book in her hand and a podcast in her ear. With a Master’s in English and Diploma in Social Media Marketing, she knows the importance of staying up-to-date with the industry’s latest trends and insights and is keen to pass these tips on to her readers.


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