Instagram introduced the Close Friends feature back in 2018, and it was designed to help users exchange private content with a limited number of friends.
The feature has been primarily used by influencers and regular users ever since. You have probably noticed that brands and businesses accounts don’t leverage the functionality that much.
In this piece, we’ll figure out how brands can use Close Friends in stories to their advantage.
How to Create a Close Friends List on Instagram
Instagram Close Friends is a feature that allows you to limit a circle of people who can see a story you’re sharing.
To create a Close Friends list, start making a story from scratch and find a small star icon at the bottom of the screen. Tap on it and then click on Add To List. Since the list itself is not yet created, Instagram will offer you to make it.
Press Get Started and choose users from the suggested list or start entering their usernames to find any.
Another way to create a Close Friends list is to open your Instagram profile page, click on the three lines in the upper right, choose Close Friends, then again - Get Started.
Enter the usernames of people you want to add or just press Add on the list of the users suggested by Instagram. Now the Close Friend list is created.
If you want to publish a story for the Close Friends list, get back to the start of this part: create a story as you normally would, add a filter and a caption if you want and click on the star icon at the bottom of the screen, and publish it. Here it is! Your story is visible to a limited number of people.
People you added to the list will see your new story in a green circle, not in violet gradient colours like they used to.
If you delete someone from the list, they will not know about it or get any notifications.
Who You Can Add to a Close Friends List
Instagram Close Friends is a perfect way to share exclusive content with your best followers and customers. But first, you need to decide who can get this access and, therefore, who you can add to the Close Friends list.
You can’t create more than one list of close friends, so think it through before adding people to your list.
Who you can and should add mostly depends on your goals, so try to stick to this rule: one goal - one list.
For instance, you can add these categories of customers and partners to your exclusive Instagram society:
Brand Ambassadors, Influencers or Affiliates
Add your brand ambassadors to the Close Friends list and utilise it to update, encourage, and engage with them. If you have affiliates, you can also update them on the upcoming exclusive webinars or keep them posted about your affiliate program changes and new ways to make money with your brand.
The effect of exclusivity attracts people. That’s one of the reasons why the new social media Clubhouse has grown so popular all of a sudden: you can’t sign in there without an invitation. Pretty much the same goes for the Close Friends list on Instagram.
If you want to attract more customers and followers, you can share a social media update that you’re creating an exclusive program, a giveaway, for instance, with the winners to be added to the Close Friends list.
Then, you can share special offers and discounts to the members, host webinars and events, and give access to limited drops.
In case you want to build an engaging and loyal community around your company as an employer, you can add your employees and co-workers to the list and share news, memes, updates and exclusive content with them, too.
How to Check If You Are on Someone’s Close Friends List on Instagram
Actually, the only way to figure this out is to wait until those who have added you to it will share stories. If you are on the list, their story will show up with a green ring around their profile picture. There is no other way to find out if you are added to the list or not.
How You Can Use Close Friends List for Your Business and Marketing
To create exclusivity around your business, you can use the Close Friends list on Instagram as follows:
- Sales and exclusive offers.
Offer your product's or service's trials, free classes if you’re in the coaching business, special announcements or exclusive deals with discounts to your most active followers.
You can add everyone who replied to your story or a story sticker to a Close Friends list and share the exclusive offer with them.
You can also give access to closed sales or early access to upcoming products and services.
2. Instagram marathons and challenges.
If you want to launch an Instagram marathon or a challenge (weight loss marathon, drawing competition, etc), you can add users who want to participate in the Close Friends list. To add a bit of gamification to your idea, exclude those members from the list who failed to follow all the rules or violated the conditions of your challenge and reward those who won.
3. Private club for top customers.
Add to this list only those of your customers who bought your products above a specific amount of money and share offers, discounts, and private content such as behind-the-scenes and sales coupons with them. Or you can give these customers early access to your products or services you’re about to launch.
4. Rewards for top followers.
Give thanks to your followers who like your posts, comment on them and are being active on your brand page in general. Provide discounts, private giveaways or special announcements for the most engaged customers or share UGC about your products.
5. Collaboration with influencers.
You can also use the Close Friends list for partnerships and collaborations with influencers and bloggers.
Add the influencers you want to or already work with and share access to your special offers and deals, update about your new features and launches, and give discounts so that they could be loyal to your brand and promote it effectively.
6. Product launch announcements.
To create a buzz around your new product coming to the market, you can use the Close Friends list, as well. It’s a free and easy way to let your customers know that you’re dropping a new product and keep them engaged.
You can start with an announcement in a regular post or stories and promise to add the most active followers to your list, so that they could be the first to buy your new product or service. Or you can ask them to leave a comment under your post, therefore increasing your post’s reach, and then add them to the list.
7. Live streams or webinars announcement.
Instagram Live is an actionable way to connect with your followers, grow your audience and even sell your products there.
And here’s yet another place where you can use your Close Friends list. For instance, you can share a story asking your followers to send an emoji reaction in response. This will act as an access request to the list to stay notified about your next live streams updates.
These are just some of the options you might use the Close Friends list for! Your creativity is your only limit, so if you think outside the box, you will find a lot more ways than these we mentioned above. Just be a bit more creative, watch your competitors and influencers, and you’ll be unrivalled when it comes to Instagram marketing!