In the last few weeks, Instagram has been slowly rolling out Business Profiles – allowing a differentiation between personal profiles and business accounts. As a business you have a call-to-action button of your choice and access to insights. This update has been a long time coming for some businesses, as they can now create sponsored posts with a ‘learn more’ or ‘buy now’ button underneath the promoted image.
Instagram is home to more than 200,000 advertisers and they now have the opportunity to engage with you thanks to this new feature. Businesses can select an existing post, and quickly and easily promote it to a selected audience, for a chosen length of time and with a budget to suit. These sponsored ads will then appear in our Instagram timeline, due to the algorithms Instagram has put in place and we will be awash with ads from businesses we follow and those we don’t.
Ultimately – Instagram is starting to turn into Facebook. But is this a good thing for businesses? Some are thrilled at the feature and have been waiting a long time for it to appear, but others have a different view. We have all seen what has happened to Facebook businesses, and the lack of engagement they are seeing. Facebook has explained how the platform is reverting back to its original aims, that of keeping in touch with friends and family over business promotion, and by doing so encouraging businesses to pay if they want to get seen. Will the same happen with Instagram?
Instagram’s popularity has soared over recent months with the introduction of Stories and now allowing users to zoom into images. With the decline of engagement on Facebook for businesses, more and more have been migrating over to Instagram as the opportunity to get seen is so much higher. But how is this development going to impact on that?
A recent post by Entrepreneur has highlighted a few issues that a few of us have had with the upgrade. By learning from Facebook, surely there is opportunity for brands to stay away from the Business profile and concentrate more on organic reach? By promoting your posts you may have a quick win on Instagram, but can you maintain that?
Entrepreneur’s blog also highlights the ‘sponsored’ element of posts – how many times do you purposely ignore the Ad on a google search or suchlike because you know they have paid? Some people are put off by the advertising element of what is ultimately a social network and it may have the reverse effect of people switching off, rather than clicking through.
However, I believe that the success of your Instagram feed fully depends on the relationship you already have with your audience. If you consistently maintain a good content strategy and you are appearing within people’s timelines on a regular basis, with high quality content, it may be that a cleverly targeted ad will be convincing enough to make people click. But this only works with brands you are already familiar with, or those you may recognise. Before you start to even contemplate promoting your posts it makes much more sense to invest time and energy into building up trust with your audience through rich content, incredible images and a relatable message.
Instagram’s strength lies in the human factor – the insight into the business and the face behind it. Your business story, the reason you are doing what you are doing. Your inspirations and daily thoughts about your business. With the addition of stories this is even more the case. How will becoming a paid advertiser within a vastly social environment suit you?
We’d love to hear your thoughts – have you converted to a business account? Are you starting to sponsor your posts? What results have you seen? Please tweet us on @Cosmic_UK and let us know.