With nearly 400 million users and 200,000 advertisers, Instagram, the social networking app for sharing photos and short videos, is already a major online marketing platform. Instagram’s recent moves look to follow in the footsteps of parent company Facebook to become even more marketing-focused.
The posts that users see on Instagram will soon stop appearing in chronological order and instead will be based on an algorithm that takes into account popularity and other social signals. The change will be rolled out over a period of months. Facebook’s algorithm has already evolved to make it more difficult for posts by business to appear in their followers’ News Feeds, unless businesses pay to “boost” posts.
Instagram is also introducing tools for businesses to monitor how posts perform, and to convert those successful posts into ads. Also new, companies can have (free) profile pages with business descriptions, and contact-us buttons to click to call or email. An Instagram executive told Techcrunch that profiles will only be available to businesses that have a Facebook Page, and Instagram will use the payment credentials from Facebook.
In interviews, Instagram co-founder and CEO Kevin Systrom said the company conducted significant research with individual businesses before coming up with the changes. That research indicates the average users only sees about 30 percent of the posts in their feeds. The change is designed to enhance the 30 percent that users see.
In announcing the change, Instagram said its goal was to find ways for businesses to stand out, get insights from customers in the form of emails and other communications and to attract new customers.
In a recent survey by local marketing researchers BIA/Kelsey, 11% of small businesses said they use Instagram and a majority said they see a return on investment of 5 to 20 times. Instagram, however, only ranked fifth in spend among social media channels – an opportunity that Instagram clearly has set its sights on.
See the announcement by Instagram.