Hashtag Your Business; Instagram’s’ Latest Development

Just over a week ago Facebook’s visual based subsidiary, Instagram, announced its newest development, tools for business users. What does this mean? Basically businesses who have been wanting greater access to the outlets reach and audience now have access to new features like business profiles, analytics and now the capacity to modify Instagram posts into advertisements within the application itself. This recent development has been in the works for a while, with Instagram engaging with a number of small businesses to test profile structures and gain audience and demographic insights.

Why did this all begin?

Instagram sourced intel from hundreds of businesses already established on the platform to deduce what it needed or what it was missing. This was done as a method to then develop an effective and user friendly outlet that companies could then use. The businesses that were contacted informed Instagram they would like product posts to stand out and profiles to be structured more suitably. What they also wanted were better ways to understand their current and potential consumer base, and those that would help increase profile visits and conversions. Subsequently, this inspired the creation of business profiles, a feature called Insights (analytics) and post promotion accessories.

According to James Quarles, Global Head of Business and Brand Development at Instagram, the platform now boasts “200,000 active advertisers”, a figured he stated upon explaining the need for relevant tools for businesses utilizing the portal. He further stated that “50 percent of people follow a business on Instagram, and 60 percent learn about products and services on Instagram”.

“So, these new business profiles, what’s the deal?”

I hear you say. Basically, Instagram will allow relevant users to upgrade their accounts in order to ascertain access to these new, expansive features. An example of what you get? These new profiles allow customers to contact businesses’ directly via phone calls, emails or text with a simple in application tap. Furthermore business profiles will boast maps and directions to businesses for customer ease.

Hold your horses. Not all users wanting to take advantage of this new profile will be eligible, however. In order to qualify, your business must first have a Facebook page – only then will your business be allowed to upgrade your Instagram profile. Quarles elaborates on the qualification caveat, ‘In doing that, it gives us the payment credentials, as well as if they want to pre-populate some of their information like their street address, the phone number, and the website”.

Do Instafamous peeps and influencers qualify?

Self-promoters who utilize the service to obtain popularity and followers through content, but possess no commercial interests in engaging with Instagram aren’t eligible for these new platform tools. Unfortunate for these users, given the metrics and information they could attain through the new Insights tool. While this is going to be the status quo moving forward, this notion may well change. The platform has indicated its intention to begin testing Insights on certified accounts of which boast large followings and dependent on results, offer these new features to the wider Instagram community.

Insights will offer businesses the ability to track the performance of their posts as well as access to details regarding the demographics of their audience. More specifically it will include things like the reach of posts, engagement with posts, impressions, and also elaborate data on followers like their age, gender and location. The Insights tool is primarily designed for mobile, meaning bigger businesses are more likely to use it on a moment to moment basis, whereas smaller businesses would opt for it as their main resource for performance tracking on the platform.

Last but certainly not least.

To wrap things up, we’ve left the most interesting development til last. Instagram will be unveiling its new mobile ad creation tool, wherein users will be enabled with the ability to promote posts, of which are performing well, into ads with the added ability to suggest audiences and budget. This features is constructed to exercise simplicity which can be mastered with a few simple taps.

Compare this to say, Facebook’s desktop ad creation tools, which lets businesses upload lists of targeted email addresses, generate a landing page pixel or access more complex data information. Instagram and it’s in-app tools are instead designed for simplicity and ease.

Quarles excitedly points out “we would love to get to a place where we partner with [businesses] to try and track the traffic… a place in the future where we know someone has actually visited the store.”

Business profiles will roll out in the “coming months” in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand, and will reach all regions worldwide by the end of the year.