Big changes are in the offing for one of the most-loved and fastest-growing social media platforms. And those changes are wonderful for those of us running small businesses.
Ever since Instagram’s purchase by Facebook several years ago, the social media world has been predicting that the platform would follow in its parent company’s footsteps and develop analytics and advertising tools.
Well, it’s (finally) happening!
The popular photo-sharing platform recently announced that business profiles are on their way, along with tools to help businesses better advertise their products and services and to gather insights on their posts’ performance.
This is pretty exciting. The changes give small business three great ways to ensure they’re connecting with customers as well as possible:
First, the new business profiles will allow company accounts to be recognized as official businesses on Instagram. A contact button on each business profile will allow customers to get directions or to reach out via phone, text or email. As you know, eliminating barriers to action is critical for small businesses. This change might seem small, but in practice, it’s huge!
Second, the new Insights feature (notice the shared language with Facebook?) will provide feedback on which posts are most successful and why, all from within the app itself. This data should help businesses better connect with their audiences by enabling us to toss the poor-performing content and instead focus on what resonates.
Third, the Promote feature will give businesses the option of turning a well-performing post into an advertisement, ensuring that it gets seen by more potential customers. Not surprisingly, this is similar to how Facebook allows business pages to boost successful posts.
Related: It’s been a year of big changes for Instagram. First there were changes to the order of your feed. Then there was the redesign, including a rearranged app and a bright new logo. Now the platform has announced that it has 500 million users worldwide.
Advertising has been in place for a while now on Instagram, with more than 200,000 businesses — most of them small or medium-sized — regularly taking advantage. Instagram reports that half of users follow a business on Instagram, and 60 percent go to Instagram for tips on products and services. Given that success, it was only natural that Instagram would roll out tools to make advertising easier and more effective.
Of course, there is a (minor) catch. Brand profiles on Instagram will be available only to those companies that already have a business Facebook page. When you convert your personal account to a business profile, you have to specify a business Facebook page with which your new Instagram account will be connected.
The new business profiles aren’t yet available to everyone, but the rollout has begun in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand. The new profiles will be available worldwide by the end of the year.
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