Instagram Introduces Business Profiles, Takes Business Users Seriously
By Patricia Lundy
Instagram’s announcement about additional features to Business Profiles follows on the heels of the many changes that the platform has unveiled this past year, including its recent logo makeover.
This blog overviews why Business Profiles could be useful to B2B marketers at small to medium-sized firms.
Business Profiles: Capabilities to Watch
Last week, Instagram revealed more details about its Business Profiles feature, which will essentially give businesses the opportunity to put a Call to Action on their Instagram profile. Currently, the feature is in a beta phase and is not available to all users.
TechCrunch detailed some of Business Profiles’ capabilities, including a contact button and a directions feature, which will allow a user to contact a company by email and get directions to a company’s offices.
Additional future capabilities have been speculated. One includes the option to launch an ad on Instagram directly from your mobile device—a capability that is long overdue for mobile marketers. This is a feature that other platforms would be smart to implement.
The Benefits of Instagram: A Huge User Base
According to AdWeek, Instagram is the second largest social media platform, with over 400 million monthly active users. It’s second only to Facebook, which has 1.59 billion monthly active users, and it beats Twitter by about 80 million monthly active users. In 2015, many marketers would argue that Facebook is their most important social media platform, followed by Twitter, and then LinkedIn—even though the majority of active monthly users are on Instagram.
But until very recently, Instagram had not branded itself as a serious B2B marketing channel. Rather, it was a “fun” tool, one to interact with clients and showcase company culture, or a channel that people used in their consumer lives; it wasn’t a source of potential revenue. With Instagram taking business users more seriously, however, this could change.
An Untapped Strategy for Small Businesses: Etsy Example
Instagram’s Business Profiles could be strategic for small B2B businesses, just as normal Instagram profiles have been successful for small B2C businesses. Etsy sellers, or artists who use Etsy to sell their product, have a limited audience and limited product to begin with: It’s usually a single individual who is taking care of the marketing, the selling, and the creating of the product.
Instagram is perfect for this niche because it allows for a more personal transaction between seller and buyer—through photographs. Etsy artists post new products to Instagram and alert their audience of store updates, special discount codes, and when they’ll be attending a pop-up store event. Many have acquired massive followings from this strategy and have successfully grown their business—so much so that it’s common to see an Instagram post detailing that the shop has sold out its product.
Translate this to a small B2B business. Although email is still the gold standard when it comes to communication, company updates, promotions, and client testimonials can all be displayed in an interactive format—through photo or video—on Instagram. Although many companies are already doing this, the added benefit of the Business Profile is that it allows business to display a Call to Action to get in touch (via the contact feature) or find out more information (via the directions feature).
Instagram’s Business Profiles will also be strategic for company events. The directions feature could be edited with the address of a specific company event to allow a user to access directions easily, and then Instagram a photo from the event with an appropriate hashtag.
Bottom Line: Improving the Customer Experience
Instagram is a highly personal platform due to its visual nature. Previously, it’s been an untapped resource for small B2B companies because the platform was not properly set up to allow for important CTAs, such as the contact feature. This could be critical to improving the customer experience by meeting the customers where they already are, which is overwhelmingly on Instagram.
- Marketers should not wait to deploy a Business Profile if they are currently on Instagram.
- Marketers not currently on Instagram should evaluate if they stand to gain value from the platform.