Since its launch in August, 1.5 million users of Instagram have converted to a business profile, according to the platform’s head of small/medium business advertising EMEA, Jen Ronan.
Furthermore, 100 million Instagram users are now uploading Stories on the platform every day, and businesses are apparently leading the way with the creation of this ephemeral content.
Speaking at Instagram’s recent #Instagiftguide event, in an interview with The Drum, Ronan explained: “Because businesses play such a rich role within our community, we’ve seen they are the profiles that have led the way and really innovated in [the Stories] space. Stories allow businesses to tell the moments in between their more iconic shots on their feed and account maybe. They’re embracing it to tell the story between the scenes, or what’s going on day-to-day, and they’re really building their brand in that way.”
Stories are proving popular among businesses as they allow them to bring a lifestyle element to their profile, without it affecting the more highly edited look-and-feel of their image grid and feed. It gives small businesses particularly an opportunity to showcase their more personal side and their people. Video editing tools, Boomerang and Hyperlapse, which are part of the Instagram ecosystem, are also enabling businesses to have a bit of fun with the Stories they create.
Additionally, the account analytics within the Instagram business profile are helping users to gain insight into the individuals they are reaching with their images and Stories, and the posts that are resonating the most with followers, when previously this was unknown information.
In a bid to keep pace with its sister company Facebook, Instagram has also just entered the live-streaming arena, enabling its users to broadcast live within their Stories. In true Snapchat fashion, the live stream disappears the second the broadcast ends, and is not saved to the app.
Additionally, a second product update coming soon will consist of a disappearing private messaging feature which will give subscribers the opportunity to send disappearing photos, and videos directly to groups and individual friends via Instagram’s Direct Message function.
Recent research by AYTM suggests that 89% people who watch live streams have watched content from brands at least once.
What streaming video does best is allow businesses to drop the corporate veil, have some fun and engage with their customers in a natural way. It means they can ditch the script too, as there is currency to be found in being authentic and unproduced. While it can often be sensible to have a plan, it’s also important that businesses take a relaxed approach and allow for spontaneity; customers don’t expect live broadcasts to be perfect.
Live streaming has become an important game changer for marketers this year, and it’s a trend that seems likely to continue into 2017. While initially it was the domain of sports and entertainment brands, live streaming has rapidly broadened out into myriad sectors; it’s so affordable and simple that even small business owners can leverage its benefit. For example, London-based cake designer Georgia Green, who has over 40,000 followers on Instagram, uses Stories to engage on a more personal level with her customers and audience. “It doesn’t matter what they look like on your page and they can be a lot more personal…it’s nice for my customers and followers to see what I’m like as a person,” she says in an interview with The Drum.
Only those who already have a Facebook Page for their business are able to convert to an Instagram business account. It’s free, and so in many ways, businesses have nothing to lose by converting. But with live streaming, it’s important that businesses identify the story they want to tell, and question whether it will serve to enhance the customer experience. No event is too small, but being clear on the purpose and meaning of the content is critical.
It will only be a matter of time before Instagram looks at new ways to monetise live streaming, so now’s the time to innovate and experiment!