Social media has revolutionised the way people discover, browse and shop and – through the various updates we’ve introduced in recent years – Instagram now has the power to connect the dots between brands of all sizes and consumers.
The platform gives brands access to a virtual shopfront with a potential audience of one billion from day one, and we’ve launched several new functions to help businesses make the most of this consumer base.
Take Shops, for example, a customisable storefront allowing people to shop directly on business profile pages. We introduced the function in 2018 and now have over 250 million people using Shops every month, making it vital for any business looking to scale quickly.
We’re continually investing and updating this function to allow businesses to grow on the app and, in June this year, we started testing Checkout in the UK to give shoppers the chance to seamlessly discover and purchase the products they love without leaving the app.
The many functionalities of Instagram create a democratic playing field for businesses, giving them access to multiple tools to engage with potential customers, but we encourage brands to pursue a unique brand identity on Instagram. While there is no single secret to success on Instagram, we find people want to feel part of the brand by connecting with a distinctive personality. It may be tempting for businesses that are starting out to copy the bigger, more established brands that have a polished, uniform homepage, but this generally isn’t what people gravitate towards.
Instead, the brands we see developing on the platform are those that constantly experiment and use Instagram to allow their followers to engage and contribute to the brand identity, through surfaces such as Instagram Reels and Stories.
Reels – a tool where you can record and edit 60-second multi-clip videos with audio, effects and new creative tools – is the place on Instagram where brands can show off their personality to a global audience full of people who may not follow them. Lifestory (@lifestoryedin) is a great example of a brand using this function to show its personality. The Edinburgh-based Scandinavian lifestyle store uses Reels to show off both the brand’s products and to post playful, unique videos which garner thousands of views.
Similarly, Stories – a quick, easy way to share moments, experiences and products with your audience – also offer brands a space to experiment through videos and photos. Within Stories, we’ve curated a bank of additional features that can also build engagement and show a brand’s personality.
One of these features is Product Tags which is a simple, but effective way to drive sales. By tagging a product in Stories, a business can direct its followers directly to its products, significantly increasing the chances of conversion. ASOS is one business that uses Product Tags brilliantly to direct shoppers to products they love, whether via Stories or in their Instagram feed.
Like many fashion brands, ASOS is a great example of a brand that uses Instagram’s functionalities to create creative content and enhance the customer experience on the platform.
Similarly, businesses can save their Stories onto their homepage, so people have a permanent opportunity to view their content. With 33% of most-viewed Stories coming from businesses and 1 in 5 organic Stories resulting in a direct message, the Stories function is one of the best ways to generate engagement on Instagram.
Giving businesses the ability to review and dissect their impact on the platform, Instagram Insights gives brands the chance to learn more about the overall trends across their followers and how their content performs. These analytics cover specific posts, stories, IGTV videos, Reels and Live videos, meaning that businesses can see what content best engages their audience.
With so many formats and tools available on Instagram, brands often ask us how best they can speak to and attract potential customers. Although there is no one-size-fits-all approach, we always recommend that business owners be brave and use the various functions available on the platform to help their brand identity shine; they have truly been curated to support business owners.
Stories, Product Tags and Reels are a great way to promote new products, whilst Insights can give a brand more detail on what posts are working well and what content connects with their followers, helping to inform social strategies. Using a combination of these functions, a business owner can see exactly what type of content work best for their people, what times are best to post and what mix of functions they should use to facilitate business growth.