“Build for people first,” says Talia Knowles-Rivas, Product Marketing Lead at Facebook and Instagram.
“People expect to see content from their favourite brands. But if you want to build a following you need to build to deliver a frictionless experience. Make connections more relevant and seamless.”
As social media platforms go, Instagram is still in its infancy. Yet it facilitates connections very richly, in its feed and beyond. Instagram allows people to connect with their passions and be inspired in a very visual way. It’s been camera first since its inception, giving it an advantage over many of its competitors.
When it comes to communication statistics show visual communications crosses cultural barriers and transcends language. Visual communication can convey a message 60,000 times faster than the written word. So, is it any wonder brands are leaping aboard Instagram like lemmings?
Tahlia suggests that Insta’s popularity is unsurprising given it is an image first platform. “Creators and people in general want the capability to tell richer stories,” she explains.
Currently there are over a billion active accounts on Instagram. 500 million people interact with the platform on a daily basis and 400 million people are consuming Instagram stories. There are a staggering 25 million businesses on the platform.
“What is really interesting,” says Tahlia “is the delta between how many businesses are on platform and the people visiting business – 200 million people are visiting businesses daily.”
With these figures, the message is clear, businesses that aren’t on Instagram are missing out. Recent upgrades to the platform now mean people can find, follow and connect with like-minded brands. Indeed, according to Tahlia 80 per cent of people follow a business on Insta.
“Sixty-seven per cent say they find new products through the platform. Half of young Australians have bought something because of something they saw on Insta.”
Thanks to Instagram, you no longer need to be on an ecommerce platform to benefit from online sales.
Tahlia says in order for businesses to benefit from the platform they need to start thinking of their Instagram as their shop window.
“Think of it as who you are, what you offer and what you are doing. It’s important you are consistent here.”
As individuals we are all adept at creating profiles and curating what we post on our feed and Tahlia suggests we should bring these skills to bare on our business pages.
She says when it comes to creating your small business’s Insta brand it is important to be considered.
“Stories are a casual way to share and they are perfect for showcasing behind the scenes moments or highlighting customers’ stories.”
Using relevant hashtags can also help you be discovered by new customers, Tahlia suggests.
“Hashtags are an important way to get discovered and find a community that already exists around your business’s interests,” she says. “Encourage your customers to use hashtags… Look up common hashtags for your business. Add location tags, @your posts.”
In 2016 Instagram began launching tools particularly for small business owners which allow them to easily gain insights on what is performing well for their brand. Unsurprisingly the platform’s messaging features have proved a boon for small business owners.
Talia tells Kochie’s Business Builders customer engagement goes through the roof when brands use messaging effectively. She says messaging is often a common response when brands post stories.
“Expect more messages over time as you create more stories,” she says. Although Talia stresses brands need to be responsive and authentic when responding to customers comments.
“Remember to comment back to start a real back and forth conversation,” she says.
Talia, says just as businesses must evolve to meet growing consumer needs, Insta has evolved its product too.
“Stories was developed to meet consumer behaviour, shift from desktop to handheld.
TV to mobile video,” she says. “The more people produce video the more it will be consumed. It’s also allowed us to switch from horizontal to vertical viewing. We view create and interact vertically…”
Instagram Stories has become one of the best-loved features of the platform and can deliver easy wins for small businesses owners wanting to extend their reach.
“It’s full screen, playful, ephemeral – real time, creative and the AR is built-in. It’s a rich mobile viewing experience built for the machine. Stories are becoming important way to drive traffic.”
Talia suggests business owners can leverage Stories to boost their marketing and PR offerings and share moments of interest.
“Promos, unboxing, launches, tutorials and behind the scenes footage, are great ways to utilise stories. There are loads of different use cases for stories that are powerful and important.”
Talia describes Stories as a nascent environment and says Stories is very different to a brand’s feed.
“About 50 per cent of Stories produced are video. 60 per cent are viewed with sound on and one in three Stories results in a direct message.”
She explains brands can now build places in their profile to save the Stories they like and suggests that segmenting Stories is a useful way to capitalise on the tool.
She says when creating content for a mobile first world is it important to flip the usual conventions.
“Brand as early as possible. Flip the convention and design with your outcome in mind.”
Another game changing new Instagram feature which benefits business owners is Instagram Shopping.
“Instagram shopping allows brands to tag up every item in their post to click through and take an action. You can tag product and pricing info in Stories and it will take you through to a detailed product view where you can purchase,” Talia explains.
Instagram’s own research is proving the platform is recognised as a valuable business tool.
64 per cent of Australian Instagram users surveyed agreed that the platform gives small businesses an opportunity to thrive. For the Australian SME, research shows Instagram is increasingly viewed as business critical, broadening customer reach and increasing ROI.
74 per cent of Australian SMEs say that Instagram is helping them achieve their goals. 63 per cent say Instagram has helped increase sales for their business while 67 per cent say Instagram helps them connect with the customers.
Wit these kinds of stats in mind, it’s clear businesses that have yet to embrace the platform are missing out.
Yet Talia stresses it’s not too late to get on board.
“It’s simple to set up an Instagram account and it’s easy way to build your mobile presence.”