By Vlad Vidaeff
 
Instagram continues to rise in popularity, especially with millennials, who love a platform that appeals to their propensity to take selfies.  Along with its visual focus, companies trying to target this segment have paid a close eye to the development of the platform.  As Facebook owns Instagram, it is no surprise that the platform has announced a host of new business tools.  This blog will highlight the new features and what it means for the evolution of the network.
 
instagramBased on feedback gained from companies who already have Instagram pages, the main areas of need include the opportunity to stand out, get insights, and find new customers.  To address these areas, Instagram will allow companies to upgrade their accounts to business profiles which will give them an expanded set of features.  This process will be streamlined with Facebook integration and requires your business to also have a Facebook profile.  Information will be prepopulated from your Facebook profile to ease the transition.  Some of the new features include buttons allowing users to reach you via phone, e-mail, or text as well as maps and directions to your business.  As a result, your Instagram business page will aid your customer service efforts and make it easier for potential and current customers to find you and/or reach you.
 
Another area of expansion is beefed up analytics.  Facebook Insights consist of a comprehensive set of metrics that make it easy for you to track the effectiveness of your social media efforts.  With the rising importance of data-driven marketing, these insights absolutely should impact your social media and marketing strategy.  Previously on Instagram, access to useful information was limited.  Paid ads provide some data on demographics and reach but the new insights tab will provide many of the same metrics as Facebook Insights.  These include key metrics such as top posts, reach, impressions, engagement, and more.
 
Instagram is also capitalizing on the rising popularity of mobile marketing through a refined focus on mobile ad creation.  This is a natural fit as the vast majority of users use the platform on their smartphones.  Users will be able to promote well-performing posts by transitioning posts from organic posts to paid ads.  Adding a call to action will facilitate quick and convenient ad creation.
 
Through a combination of business profiles, increased analytics, and a focus on mobile ad creation, Instagram is placing an emphasis on facilitating interaction between consumers and businesses.  As one of the most popular social media platforms today, along with the resources of Facebook, Instagram has exhibited a clear message regarding the future direction of the company—a positive development for brands.  These features will roll out in the next couple of months, first in the United States before expanding globally.