The overachieving Instagram isn’t sitting on its success; the social photo app debuts powerful new ‘Business Tools’ and soon will reveal more new features.
Instagram has a lot going for it. The photo/commentary-based social network, founded by two Stanford grads in 2010, was acquired by Facebook in 2012 and quickly earned a reputation as a notably strong marketing platform. In 2015 Mashable named the app #1 on its list of the 100 best iPhone apps of all time, and it recently passed the 500M monthly users mark. Things will likely improve for the powerful, innovative social network and its users as Instagram rolls out its much anticipated new Business Tools, as well as a handful of other expected new features.
By next year Instagram will generate an estimated $3B in mobile ad revenue, and the social app wants to make sure that businesses have the flexibility and analytics they have been asking for. In order to have a clear and accurate idea of exactly what tools to build, Instagram interviewed hundreds of business owners, allowing the app’s evolution to be user-driven rather than dictated solely from the top down.
One of the major new tools is the Business Profile, allowing a company to have a presence on the app distinct from a regular private user, analogous to what Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn offer. Directions to the business can be accessed from directly within the app and a “contact” button immediately facilitates calling, emailing or texting. More than ever, those promoting a product, service or physical business location will able to do so very openly as their existence and activity on the social network is clearly embraced.
The Insights Tool lets users access valuable metrics such as reach, top posts and impressions and engagement. A business owner will be able to access data on followers, like their age, gender, activity and location (this gets as specific as the user’s city). Because Instagram (like Twitter) features a rapidly revolving stream of short content, exactly when to post is almost as important as what to post. The location data will prove immensely valuable as businesses calculate the exact best time to post new content in order to maximize reach and engagement, based on followers’ locations.
The Promote tool acts as a stripped-down but effective version of Instagram Advertising, except that it’s located conveniently right in the app. Well performing posts can instantly be turned into ads by adding a call-to-action button and then selecting a target demographic audience or allowing Instagram to choose based upon its own data analysis.
While Promote does not have the targeting specificity, flexibility or options of Facebook Ad Manager, it is more than sufficiently targeted to create effective ads and its immediacy and simplicity means that those inhibited by intimidating, complicated advertising dashboards will be able to get ads up and running quickly, with no headache. This new set of Tools is expected to be completely rolled out to the US, Australia and New Zealand within the next few months.
While the Business Tools will prove invaluable to those on the business and marketing side of things, a other brand new changes will benefit all users. The social network just added video channels to its “Explore” feature and expanded video clip length from 15 to 60 seconds, promising the addition of an algorithm-driven feed. The short video length keeps the user experience quite different from Youtube, yet also not as peripatetic and youth-oriented as Vine.
In the coming weeks Instagram will be debuting a text translation feature – the “See Translation” button – which will automatically translate captions, comments and bios into the user’s chosen language- starting with a list of 24 languages.
The app is also testing a feature allowing users to see who is following them back – in other words, that their connection is reciprocal. Also, if a user comes across the profile of another user they don’t follow, the new feature will notify the first user as to which of their existing Instagram followers also follows that other user.
All of these innovations and user conveniences will only make Instagram- an app built upon an elegant, captivating premise – even more powerful for businesses wishing to market to a highly relevant, dynamic and influencing target audience.