Instagram is making it easier for businesses to use the platform — and, ostensibly, making it easier to turn those businesses into advertisers.
In the next few months, the photo- and video-sharing platform will begin allowing businesses in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand to create business profiles for accounts that want to be recognized as businesses on Instagram.
Like parent company Facebook, these will allow additional tools that let the business garner insights, provide contact information and turn posts into ads.
The business profiles are free, but they are only open to businesses that already have a Facebook Business page. They are also not open to individuals who wish to self-promote — yet, anyway.
The new Instagram business tools will allow account-holders to view various insights about posts and followers. For example, they will show the top posts by the number of times it was seen and by how many people saw it.
In turn, businesses will be able to pay to turn any post into an ad from within the app. The business can select an intended audience or let Instagram recommend one, and choose the length of the time for which they want the ad to be promoted. This is an antidote of sorts for businesses that were worried about Instagram’s upcoming changes to its algorithm called Feed Ranking. Like Facebook, Instagram will eventually begin to show posts according to relevance and likelihood that a user will like it, rather than chronologically.
The insights that the business tools will provide include follower demographics such as age, gender and location, and when the account gained new followers. Business accounts will also allow for Facebook-like contact information with a “contact” button, so that followers can call, text, email or get directions to a business.
These updates, Instagram said, come as a result of a series of interviews with businesses that revealed that businesses most wanted to stand out, get insights and find new customers. They also reflect more of a Facebook-like approach to businesses and advertisers, although the advertising options are not as diverse as those from Facebook.
The number of Facebook advertisers still dwarfs those of Instagram. In April, chief operating officer Sheryl Sandberg shared that more than three million businesses use Facebook advertising products, while more than 200,000 businesses advertise on Instagram, every month. She also said Facebook, in response to how and when users log in, is focusing on its mobile experience. Accordingly, Instagram has consistently taken a mobile-first approach.
This year has seen a handful of significant changes at Instagram. Last month, it overhauled its design with a new logo and interface and opened up dynamic ads — ads that are customized according to who is seeing them — to all of its advertisers. It also, like Facebook, is turning its sights to videos by expanding the length of video shares from 15 to 60 seconds and by showing the number of views given to each video.
A fashion-world favorite, Instagram has become a go-to platform for fashion and media brands, who have taken to posting photoshoots and videos directly to, and only on, the platform.