Instagram’s expanded audience options: How creators, businesses, and personal accounts can use this new feature
Photo credit: Omkar Patyane via Pexels
Instagram users have had the ability to share Stories to two audiences — Close Friends and Everyone — for a while now. Recently, Instagram gave users the ability to do the same thing with posts and Reels.
A good start, and hopefully just the beginning
I see this new feature as a welcome change — a good way to allow creators to have more control over who sees certain types of content that they publish.
It’s not perfect — I’d like Instagram to provide more audience options that go deeper than just Close Friends and Everyone — but it’s a good start, and I hope it’s the beginning of a wider range of audience options.
I posted about this yesterday on Cat Lady Academy, talking about some common uses for this feature within the Cats of Instagram community. I’m expanding on that here with more in-depth ideas and use cases beyond the cat community, as well as a few words of caution.
First things first…
If you’d like to use this feature, you’ll need to do a little prep work.
First, decide who you’d like to have as Close Friends and designate them as such on Instagram.
Then, when you’re creating your post or Reel for this audience, select Close Friends as your Audience for that content.
And remember that if you add accounts to your Close Friends list, that will likely allow those new additions to also see any past content you designated as Close Friends posts or Reels, not just the current content you intend for them to see.
Ways to use this new feature
Here are just a few of the many reasons you may want to create a post or Reel that’s just visible to Close Friends:
For sharing something personal to a select group of people. For instance, if you want to share a health or personal life update to a small subset of friends and not your whole audience.
Another example: If you’re looking to switch jobs but don’t want to announce it publicly and don’t want your current colleagues finding out, you could use Close Friends content to leverage a subset of your Instagram network to see if they know of any career opportunities that align with your skills.
For sharing content and/or updates to favorite and/or trusted followers. For cat content creators like myself, one obvious use case is to provide certain followers with updates about my cat that I don’t want all of Manny’s 55,000+ followers to have access to yet.
One thing that pet-related content creators often deal with is unsolicited advice. While this advice is usually well-intended and coming from people who truly care about you and your pet, sometimes it comes from people being jerks. No matter the reason for the unsolicited advice, sometimes you just don’t have the energy to deal with it, especially if you are already dealing with your pet’s health or behavioral challenges.
While yes, you could make a post to Everyone and either shut comments off or specifically say you’re not seeking advice, in some cases the easier thing to do is choose a group of Close Friends who you’re confident will provide supportive comments without overstepping boundaries and post an update just for them.
For providing select customers with a special offer. If you’re a small business and want to offer an opportunity (like being a beta tester for a new product, giving a special discount to a small group of loyal customers, etc.) to a subset of followers but not everyone, this is an interesting way to do it.
Yes, you could also accomplish this by emailing these customers — but let’s face it, so many people have email fatigue and are constantly bombarded by emails from retailers. This method could help you stand out from the crowd, plus it offers the added potential bonus of social proof. If some of these customers comment on your Close Friends content saying how excited they are to participate, that can influence others in this audience group to participate too.
Words of caution
If you’re discussing something confidential in a Close Friends post, I recommend saying something like this as part of the post text: “This post is confidential for a few friends/followers/customers only. Please don’t share this information.”
While that’s not foolproof — remember, anything you put online can be screenshot and has the possibility to not remain truly confidential — it may reduce the chances of someone innocently spilling the beans if they didn’t realize that was a Close Friends post.
In addition, avoid using Close Friends content in an unkind way. If you’re posting something gossipy or mean-spirited about another person, especially if you and that person have friends in common, that’s the sort of content that’s likely to get screenshot and shared — and get you in trouble. Never say something online about someone else — whether in content that’s public, private, or for a limited audience — that you wouldn’t say to their face.
Not sure whether you have this new feature yet or not?
Here’s how you can check: Start making an Instagram post or Reel and see if you have the “Audience” option. If you do, great! This feature should be ready for you to use.
If you want this feature but don’t currently have it:
- Check to see if there are any updates available for your Instagram app — if so, do the update and then check to see if you have this feature.
- Remember that Instagram rolls out new features gradually to users — they don’t generally roll stuff out to everyone all at once. So keep checking, and be sure to keep your Instagram app up to date.
Are you excited about this new Instagram feature too? If so, let me know in the comments how you plan to use it!