Instagram is adding more features for business use. A review of the new features and how to make best use of them.
An independent record store we like to patronize recently announced on Facebook it was no longer updating its page due to a lack of traffic.
Instead, announcements about new stock and store information were moving over to Instagram.
Which is interesting, in part because, as Kurt Wagner notes in Recode, Instagram is making it more appealing to advertise on its photo-sharing (with an increasing percentage of video content) platform by “executing a familiar strategy. Facebook’s advertising strategy.”
Given that Instagram is owned by Facebook, that’s not particularly surprising. The question is, why would a business expect more business traffic on one platform than the other?
Part of the reason may be that Instagram’s focus on the visual, the site claims more than 80 million photos as well as videos are viewed daily, lends itself to “window shopping.”
Looking at clothes, or vinyl records or furniture, the whole nature of browsing, is particularly popular on mobile devices, the source of more than 50 percent of all retail holiday traffic last year and where one in five retail purchases originated, and for which Instagram might be more visually suited than Facebook.
Instagram also recently announced that it has more than 200,00 advertisers. While this pales in comparison to Facebook’s two million advertisers, it is particularly impressive given that Instagram only had a few hundred advertisers last June, according to TechCrunch. So there may be something to be said for getting on a platform that is trending.
Whatever the reason, let’s take a look at Instagram’s newer business features and how you can best make use of them.
Profiles With Contact Buttons and Directions, Analytics
While still in beta and not yet generally available, Instagram’s version of the Facebook Brand Page stands to offer a number of useful features to business owners. As Sarah Perez points out in TechCrunch, these include a new "Contact" button at the top of the screen, to the left of the "Follow" button, that provides a pop-up menu offering directions or the ability to email you.
While Instagram has its own messaging system, email is the most widely used form of business communication that potential customers and contacts are likely to be most comfortable using.
In addition, Instagram is also testing a Business Profiles analytics program similar to, you guessed it, a Facebook feature that provide data about who is following your business; how many viewed a particular post; age and location of followers; and other valuable insights into your customer base.
As Taylor Loren of Later notes, the new Business Profiles feature,“frees up precious space in your Instagram bio to communicate other key information.”
Social media management expert Jenn Hermann points out on her blog that, “Your Instagram bio is one the first thing customers... see. We all know the value of a good first impression. Instagram is no exception. So it’s important to have a great Instagram bio that draws in users and encourages them to follow you.”
Tips for a Good Instagram Business Bio
Below are some tips on how to boost your business profile:
- Feature your brand website (even if you are able to provide it on the soon-to-be-released "Contact" tab), particularly if you do any sort of E-commerce from that site.
- Use keywords. Instagram is a bit different in that keywords do not improve searchability or boost your Google ranking. However, as Stephanie Trembath points out on Later, “It will help your users identify with you. Creating your profile with your other social profiles in mind and what your core value and purpose is will give your Instagram more focus and you’ll connect with followers who want to engage with your content.”
- Provide your username for other social channels where you post, e.g., Snapchat, Twitter, Google+ and, oh yeah, Facebook.
- Include customized hashtags for your brand(s) so your followers know how to tag their photos. This enables you to search the hashtag to collect user-generated content to repost later. You can also use a hashtag to promote an event or contest (see below). These hastags don’t show up on mobile, but are clickable in web apps. And the bio is the only place where you can have clickable links.
- Conduct a contest that invites followers to submit a photo or video related to your brand (e.g., pictures of people using your product or placement of your logo in different places) or a topic (e.g., a holiday or seasonal theme or an upcoming event). It’s a fun way to involve and engage your customers, and collect data about who is following you.
- Use emojis. This may be the only place where using emojis is appropriate for a business purpose. This is because emojis are integral to the structure of the Instagram bio page. But make sure the emojis reflect your brand and your company. Use emojis in colors consistent with brand/company logo and designs that reflect the products and services you offer. For example, if you are promoting environmental friendliness, use green for your emojis.
- Make it unique. Don’t just copy over you Facebook bio because, well, this isn’t Facebook.
We’d recommend that any social media strategy include both Facebook and Instagram, as well as a few other popular platforms. But if you are a small business owner with not enough time (or budget to hire a content manager) to update update multiple sites, Instagram is a good choice to focus on to effectively market your products and services.
Related Article: How to Sell on Instagram: Emerging Trends and Platform