Instagram as it stands is crucial to the development of businesses everywhere. Whether it’s paying Instagram influencers to promote brands, managing user-generated content campaigns, or purchasing Instagram ads, Instagram has developed as one of the premiere apps for businesses looking to increase their brand awareness. Since the 2016 launch of the “Instagram Business Profile,” in which Instagram began to offer analytics data and a user-friendly advertisement creation system, the number of businesses marketing on Instagram has risen from 1.6 million in 2016 to 15 million in 2017 to a whopping 25 million today. According to Instagram’s internal data 80% of Instagram users follow business accounts, and according to eMarketer, 71% of businesses in the United States have Instagram accounts. Instagram Business users have been employing tools such as branded hashtags (hashtags increase engagement by at least 12.6%), user-generated content campaigns (users are 4.5% more likely to engage with your brand if you employ influencers), and Instagram analytics and public data that reveals information such as top-performing post-types (tip: photos with faces get 38% more likes) and the 80/20 rule (20% of content should be promotional and 80% should focus on engagement) to gain followers and increase brand awareness (https://sproutsocial.com/insights/instagram-stats/).
Now, Instagram has developed a method to translate that brand awareness directly into sales. According to The Verge, Instagram is in the process of developing a tie-in shopping app that allows Instagram users to browse the goods of businesses they follow and directly purchase them. This app intends to make it easier for users to reach and purchase content they already enjoy, and in turn makes it easier for businesses to remind individuals who enjoy their content that they are more than just a page with great content, but a brand with products users can take home.
This app will be particularly helpful in promoting small businesses in the world of online shopping, which attracts 79% of shoppers in America. Online shopping for small businesses has been historically dominated by websites such as Amazon that bring products of all different types together on an accessible platform, but that does not promote individualized content based on brands that users have been shown to enjoy. The new Instagram app will be helpful to small businesses because it will make shopping from their brands accessible like Amazon while simultaneously only advertising to individuals who actually care about the brands they’re purchasing from.
While this app has exciting implications for small businesses, it also means that now, before the app’s launch, is the time to heavily focus on social media. Get those followers and engage those followers, because soon, followers will mean sales.