Ever since the digital marketing overlords at Facebook acquired Instagram, marketers and investors have been watching for any changes to the platform that might make it more friendly to businesses looking to expand their marketing. After all, Facebook’s Business Manager’s reach is dwarfed only by Google in digital advertising, and Instagram is one of the few social networking platforms still growing its user base at impressive rates.
Starting in 2016, Instagram began a steady release of new business-friendly features to whet that appetite for more. Over the past year, the platform’s added quite a few upgrades to both appeal to marketers and consolidate some of the best features of competitor apps.
Let’s run down a few of the most important changes for businesses.
Taking a page out of Facebook’s playbook, Instagram now allows users to create official Business Profiles that allow fans to call, email, or find directions to your business right from the app. Even better, Business Profiles gain access to a special ‘Insights’ tab with key weekly metrics. At a glance, you can now track how many users each post reaches, how many website clicks or calls your business gets from the app, best days and times for posting to reach the largest portion of your audience, and more. Metrics are still more limited than what Facebook or Google can provide so far, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction for businesses who want to see the results of their social media efforts in black and white.
Advertising on Instagram
Official ads on Instagram have had a slow rollout and mixed results over the past year, but the platform seems to be constantly refining and finessing the ad experience to boost ad reach while preserving user trust. For carefully crafted Instagram ads that integrate with your company’s Facebook ads, Instagram now allows ads to be created right in Facebook Business Manager alongside your other ads. Now all it takes it a click of a check box to place your ads in Instagram as well as the broader Facebook network.
Not into opening up Facebook Business Manager just to create an ad for Instagram? No problem: now, you can turn any Instagram post into an ad just by designating it as a Sponsored Post. This prioritizes your ad post in your followers’ feeds, and gives you the advantage of knowing exactly what the ad will look like from the app.
New Photo & Video Features
In addition to the strictly-business tools, Instagram’s been hard at work adding features that’ve been popular on other networks like Facebook and Snapchat to retain user interest and ensure the platform will stay relevant to its massive audience. Boomerang, Instagram Stories, and Hyperlapse have all helped Instagram bridge the gap between static photo shares and video, and the recent Post Gallery feature gives users the ability to share click-through photo gallery posts all at once, so that related photos can be grouped together instead of posted one after another.
That’s all fantastic for Instagram and those who’ve been jumping at the bit to start their Instagram marketing. But is it really worth it for your business to wade further into the social media waters for these features?
That answer is completely dependent on your company and your specific goals–but there are
a few good rules of thumb to follow before diving in or dismissing the opportunity. Stay tuned for our follow-up blog to get our recommendations for what types of businesses stand to gain more from Instagram, and how to make the most of it.
Have a specific question for us about Instagram? Let us know here.