Recently, Instagram rolled out some pretty significant changes. From a brand new logo, to a fresh method of delivering call-to-actions, the social media giant has consistently updated and innovated within its already popular app. Just a few months after hitting 300 million users, Instagram now says 400 million people use its photo app every month. That makes Instagram officially bigger than Twitter, which has 310 million active users. Not only is its audience large, but it is highly engaged. Instagram has a per-follower engagement rate 4.21%, which is 58 times higher than Facebook, and 120 times higher than Twitter.

According to Instagram’s Global Head of Business and Brand Development, James Quarles, the platform recognized the need for business tools and knew it needed to make a shift. “We’ve grown to 200,000 active advertisers on Instagram, and the vast majority of those are small to medium businesses,” he said. Plus, he adds, “Fifty percent of people follow a business on Instagram, and 60 percent learn about products and services on Instagram.”

It sounds like Instagram had no choice… it was time to give the users what they want, and for Instagram, many of these users are small to medium-sized businesses.

If you’re someone who stays on top of changes in the digital landscape, you already know about some of Instagram’s cool new features. These include an increase in video length, the ability to see both the views and likes on a video, CTAs within a photo ad and, of course… The dreaded algorithm change.

Now, if those weren’t awesome enough, Instagram is in the process of implementing some more impactful features, and here are four reasons why YOU should be excited!

  1. FOLLOWER DEMOGRAPHICS: UNDERSTANDING WHO YOUR FOLLOWERS ARE

 

Instagram recently announced the addition of Insights to the platform. Now, brands will be able to have more information about their customer and be able to tailor content to their followers more effectively.

While insights for Instagram profiles have not gone into full effect yet, thanks to a leak from one of the product’s early testers, we do know that the Insights will be focused on two main areas; follower demographics and post analytics.

Follower demographics will refer to your audience, specifically in terms of age, gender and location. Location data is available on a larger scale by country, to a smaller scale, breaking it down to cities, which makes this useful for both big brands and smaller, local businesses.

Follower data also allows you to track how many new followers you gained on an hourly and daily basis, which can help determine which posts worked to convert users to followers, and which posts may have spread virally.

Follower demographics*photo courtesy of TechCrunch

2. POST ANALYTICS: WHAT MAKES YOUR AUDIENCE TICK?

 

Let’s say you’re a small business that sells uber trendy dog accessories.  With so many great items to post, (dog bow ties, dog scarves, dog jumpsuits.. I mean, the list goes on and on…)  it’s hard to know when to post what, and what your followers want to see more of. Lucky for you, the addition of post analytics will help you determine what the people want!

This section will let you track information like impressions, reach, clicks, and frequency.  

*Photo courtesy of Instagram for Business

You can also see your “top posts” as sorted by impressions, for either the past week or month. The coolest part about this feature, it is shown visually with thumbnail images, not by a graph or chart. This will help brands better visualize the content that works the best.

Now, these new changes give advertisers some distinct advantages. Insights allow you to learn more about the behavior of your audience. What do they like? (The basset hound in the beautiful bow tie, or the lab in the polka-dot scarf?)  When are they most responsive to messages? What stories keep them engaged and bring them back for more?  This information will allow brands to tailor their content based on ACTUAL data from their users, and create more valuable content.

3. BUSINESS PROFILES: WHAT THESE NEW FEATURES MEAN FOR YOUR BUSINESS?

 

While the new Insights are pretty great, they will not be readily available to the normal Instagram profile. To access these features, you’ll need to upgrade your account to a business profile… *shudders* UPGRADE?! Don’t worry. It’s available at no cost, and they are basically the equivalent to a Facebook Business Page.

This type of profile unlocks access to a bunch of nifty tricks, including a “contact” button, access to maps and directions, and the ability to categorize the business by type. With the tap of the contact button, a user can call, text, or email the business, as well as get directions to the actual storefront.

Two reasons why this ROCKS: First, Instagram realized that direct messaging in the app is not the most efficient way for a customer to reach out and for a business to respond, so it made this easier by allowing customers to contact a business in their app through external means. Second, Instagram is once more bridging the gap between social media and a brick-and-mortar storefronts by allowing pages to give their audiences directions to their real-world locations. The easier it is for pages to connect to their audiences, the greater chance there is of advertisers maximizing the ROI of their social campaigns.

*Photo courtesy of TechCrunch

4. INSTAGRAM’S TIES TO FACEBOOK: A MATCH MADE IN MARKETER HEAVEN

 

As most of you likely know, Instagram was recently acquired by Facebook. When this first happened, many marketers feared the worst… Would Instagram change its algorithm just like Facebook? And then it happened.. And people were… not happy.

But, in the big scheme of things, is this really a bad thing? I mean sure, to be a business on Facebook, you do really have to pay to play these days, but along with that, come some pretty amazing targeting options, as well as more options to show a direct ROI for small businesses. Is it really so bad that Instagram seems to be moving in this direction?

If you are familiar with Facebook’s ever-growing, and basically *amazing*, targeting options, you know that the future looks bright for Instagram ads. You can already create ads within Facebook’s Power Editor… AND take advantage of all the platform has to offer.  Because of Instagram’s ties to Facebook, brands can use mobile tools to define and save custom audiences based on data from users’ profiles on FACEBOOK, along with individual interests, web activity and more!  

So, there ya have it, friends. Long story short, if you’re a small business, you should be pretty pumped about all the changes coming to Instagram. Wanna talk more about how your brand’s social strategy? Let’s chat!

-Bryson, The Internator

Sources:
TechCrunch
Instagram For Business
Social Media Examiner