Instagram is, without a doubt, one of the fastest growing social media platforms at the moment, with over 500 million monthly active users having shared more than 30 billion photos since it launched in 2010. The last two years has seen the average engagement of an Instagram post grow by 416%, with followers for top brands 58 times higher than on Facebook and 120 times higher than on Twitter.
It is evident then, that businesses are using Instagram to grow their following in a much more successful way than any other platform currently. What is great is that Instagram has listened to what their business customers were saying and decided to maximise engagement by introducing a new business tool. While it hasn’t been released yet, this new tool will start rolling out in the US, Australia and New Zealand over the next few months and should be available globally by the end of the year.
After hundreds of interviews with businesses, Instagram asked questions and three key needs became clear. Businesses want to stand out on Instagram. They wanted insights to their activity – but presented in a clear way that didn’t have too much irrelevant information. And thirdly businesses wanted to reach more customers.
So Instagram has now created a tool which it hopes tackles all of those points. And on first glance, it looks great.
First up, we have Business Profiles. This is a free feature for accounts who want to be recognised as a business on Instagram. As a customer, you then have the option of being able to contact these businesses with a contact button which will appear next to the ‘following’ button. You will be able to email, phone or text, as well as being able to get directions to the business by opening up a map. Business profiles will only be available to those who already have a Facebook business page – which as Facebook owns Instagram it seems to make sense.
Next, and probably a favourite with businesses, is Insights. We speak regularly about the importance of understanding your audience, and so to be using a platform where you have no knowledge of your followers is frustrating. Instagram is now changing that and you will be able to get straightforward and clear insights into whom you are reaching.
Insights will cover top posts, reach, impressions and engagement as well as audience demographic. You will be able to know age, gender and location which will help enormously when marketing your content and also when you start promoting your posts. You can also see the most popular times of day that your users are online. All of this can be accessed through the mobile app so you can be posting current, relevant content at all times.
Lastly, Instagram is now giving businesses the option to promote your posts and create ads from within the app. You simply click on a post you have already shared and click to promote, either automatically or by creating your own target audience – which you will have access to through your insights.
Instagram have purposely made all aspects of the new business tool easy and accessible to use. As it is a mobile app there needs to be as little clicks to achieve a promoted ad as possible, and as their director of market operations, Jim Squires, rightly says: “The way I envision this is there are a lot of businesses on the platform that may be new to advertising, or not advertising yet, and this is a straightforward, easy way to start advertising on the platform”.
These updates are crucial for businesses that are moving over to Instagram due to lack of engagement on their Facebook business pages, and crucial for Instagram as more and more accounts want access to this information. To give businesses the insights that they need to further grow their engagement means that more and more businesses will be flocking to Instagram, and staying there.
We look forward to being able to report on the new business tool as soon as it is released here in the UK. If you have any thoughts then we’d love to hear them. And if you would like more information on how to use Instagram to promote your business, please get in touch!