The clouds have parted in the wake of Instagram’s recent algorithm changes and the digital gods are about to shower us with the tactical treats we’ve been praying for – Instagram’s new business tools. We’re about to start seeing business profiles, statistics and analytics for posts, as well as the ability to promote posts. As digital marketing nerds, we couldn’t be more stoked about the chance to enrich the Instagram experience for brands by digging into the data that lies beneath.
As Instagram’s reach and engagement levels continue to rise, businesses at all scales will only be enhancing their digital marketing strategies by finding creative ways of making the most of the visual social media platform. Individual and business accounts on Instagram have been treated as one and the same until now, with personas and brands having the same tools available to them. While the average Jane or Joe may be happy with the vanity metrics analysis tools that have been on offer from third party apps like Iconosquare and Crowdfire, business owners have longed for means to allow them to optimise their profiles and posts for maximum exposure. Instagram’s updates mean they’ll be able to understand their current and prospective customers, in an effort to then identify and acquire new customers.
This gap in the market has not gone unnoticed. Hordes of Instagram analytics tools and apps have been popping up ever since brands began capitalising on Instagram’s mass audience. “We’ve grown to 200,000 active advertisers on Instagram, and the vast majority of those are small to medium businesses,” says Instagram’s Global Head of Business and Brand Development, James Quarles, explaining the need for a specialised set of tools for business owners. Enter Instagram’s new suite of native analytics tools.
If you have a Facebook Page set up for your business already, you’ll soon be eligible to qualify as a business on Instagram and given the option to upgrade your account to a business profile. This will grant you access to an expanded set of features, including a click-to-contact button - allowing customers to reach you in the way most convenient for them, be it via phone calls, emails or texts. The profiles will also include maps and directions to the business, where applicable. Studies have found that the incorporation of a click-to-call button can generate a 200% increase in conversions so this is music to a digital marketer’s ears and a solid step in transforming Instagram into the marketing beast we’ve long suspected it to be.
Likes, comments and follows make us feel great. As data lovers, we also want concrete numbers and statistics in order to build out a story. Instagram’s new Insights will give you a deeper understanding of the demographics and behaviour of your followers, by allowing you to see things like when people engage with a post, where they're viewing your content from, and demographics. In monitoring which posts are performing well by measuring reach and engagement, which we’ve been able to do using third-party tools so far, and now the additional metric of impressions, “You can create more relevant and timely content,” says Instagram. You’ll be able to identify the best times of day to post content, monitor how fast your influence is growing, and create better ad campaigns for your business through data-driven insights.
The last treat in the bag is the debut of mobile ad creation for Instagram. Soon, you’ll have the ability to promote any post by adding a clickable button and turning it into an ad.
Instagram will offer suggestions based on your budget and target audience, and then your post will be presented to the selected audience as an ad for your desired period of time. Your users will be able to click on and visit these links, without even having to leave Instagram. Being able to then track the performance of these ads using the new analytics dashboard, is really the cherry on top.
Does it compare with the robustness and precision of Facebook’s tools for creating Instagram ads? There’s no denying that Facebook’s ad creation tools, Ads Manager, and Power Editor allow you more targeted advertising, with the ability to upload lists of email addresses, create website custom audiences and access sophisticated reporting capabilities. At this point, Instagram’s in-app ad tools look to be superior only in terms of speed and simplicity. You can use it as a fast way to gain more views and boost engagement on your profile. However, Instagram’s association to Facebook mean that mobile tools can be used to define and save custom audiences based on data collated from Facebook users’ profiles, including gender, age, location and selected individual interests.
If you’re thinking to yourself, “Wow, this sounds a lot like Facebook Pages”, we wager that now’s a good time to put together a wish-list of features you’d like to see translated over from Facebook to Instagram. We may well be getting access to more and more business-friendly features in the not-too-distant future. This being said, the similarities between Instagram’s new business profiles and Facebook Pages raise the question of whether organic reach as a page will become limited as has been the case for pages on Facebook. Mobile ad tools may strengthen over time to allow the creation of different kinds of ads, such as those designed for lead generation purposes. For now, we’re happy with the new updates.
In following Facebook’s footsteps towards becoming a digital marketing power tool, Instagram has developed far beyond the photo-sharing app it started out as. Now armed with the ability to see data on their growth, business accounts will be able to measure how effective Instagram is within their marketing strategy. Instagram’s business tools will be rolling out to users with verified accounts and those with large followings in the US, Australia, and New Zealand “in the coming months," and will be internationally available by the end of the year.
What metrics are you most excited to see on Instagram brand analytics?