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Instagram spent a year listening to SMEs to create this new product

Photo: Justin Sullivan/ Getty Images.

Feel like you’re seeing more and more businesses on Instagram?

That’s because you are.

With now more than 400 million monthly accounts on the photo platform, small businesses are becoming an increasingly important part of it, Jim Squires, director of market operations at Instagram told Business Insider.

“50% of people on Instagram are following businesses,” he said.

“In Australia, 48% of people say that Instagram is a great way to hear about products and services and 43% of people on Instagram take action after seeing a sponsored post.

“It’s a great place to introduce people to your business.”

But because the platform is, first and foremost, a place to share photos, this growing group of users were frustrated with the lack connection it was able to establish with customers, and what it offered for them.

Instagram then spent a year listening to small businesses to tailor a product to fit their needs.

During this time, three themes emerged said Squires.

“The first theme [that emerged] is that businesses want to better connect with their customers on the platform,” he said.

“The second theme is about businesses wanting to understand what’s working… when to post, and what is resonating with their audience.

“And the third theme is that businesses want to drive more value for their business on mobile.”

Now, Instagram Business Tools are here, and it’s first launching in Australia, along with the US and New Zealand.

Here’s how it works

The business profile

“The first component is the business profile,” says Squires, which he calls he “home base” for a business inside Instagram.

“Through the profiles we have allowed businesses to share more information about what they do and what their business is – including address information – and we have enabled a contacts button so that customers can contact the business directly.”

Insights

“Insights are around giving businesses more information on their audience and on which content is resonating with their followers,” says Squires.

“The benefit here is with this information you’re able to better tailor your content. You know what’s working, what’s not working and with that it can help you refine your marketing efforts… [or] how you should interact and communicate with customers.

“You can see your overall reach and you’re overall impressions in a quick snapshot.

“From there you can dig deeper and go into specific pieces of content and understand what the engagement was, and how many people saw the post. It can give you a feel of which of your posts were more of less popular, and which had a bigger impact.

“The other thing you can do is look at the composition of your audience. You can understand demographic information like where they are located, their age, and their gender. You can get a feel for the time of day your customers are consuming the content.

“The combination of the information about the community along with how they are engaging with the content gives you a much more complete picture for the posts your creating, as well as your marketing efforts.”

Promote

“The promote function… It’s a really simple, powerful tool. Within just a couple of minutes and few taps you can be off and running an advertising campaign,” says Squires.

“You jump in and say what your business objective is, then define an audience that you want to reach beyond your followers, you put your budget in and then your off running an ad campaign on Instagram.”

“The combination of having your business profile, with the insights plus the ability to run advertising is cohesive set of tools that we believe hits on the themes [for SMEs on Instagram],” says Squires.

“In my mind there isn’t another place out there that intersects mobile discovery with peoples interests in such a visual, simple way.”

Instagram Business Tools will be rolling out in the Australia, the US and New Zealand in the coming months, and will be available in all regions globally by the end of the year.

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