Social media platform Instagram has rolled out in-depth analytics for advertisers, allowing businesses to evaluate their marketing campaigns in greater detail and in real-time.
The Wall Street Journal reports the changes will allow advertisers to better understand their audiences and discover what kinds of content users are most interested in.
The new Instagram tools connect with analytics for Facebook, which acquired Instagram in 2012 for approximately $US1 billion ($A1.07 billion).
Marketers using both platforms will have access to Facebook’s demographic information to see the age, gender and location of people viewing their ads on Instagram. Advertisers will also be able to see how their ads will look on the Instagram app.
Facebook has had tailored advertising on its site for a number of years, opening up the possibility for Instagram to follow suit.
While Instagram’s advertising is currently only open to a few high-profile brands, social media expert Catriona Pollard told SmartCompany the social media platform is still important for SMEs when it comes to thinking about marketing their product.
“The fact they’ve created analytics is really critical,” says Pollard.
“Even if you’re not advertising, you still need access to data and to review your strategy.”
Pollard says the reason why Instagram has not opened up advertising to more companies is because it does not want to cause a potential backlash from users similar to when Facebook introduced advertising.
“I think that they actually want it to be a really positive consumer experience,” she says.
“Because Instagram is such a visual experience and so many creative people are really conscious around images and photography, they need to be very careful around how that is going to impact their users.”
Pollard says the secret to using Instagram successfully is to make your fans the stars of your page.
“Because it is so visual, really encourage them to be able to interact with your product and share that product on Instagram,” says Pollard.
“For fashion for example, do competitions and encourage them to share what they’re wearing. Also, make sure you use hashtags very effectively and have someone manage that Instagram account. There has to be a strategy and you have to actively manage it.”
Pollard says Instagram can often be forgotten thanks to older and more popular social media platforms, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t the right fit for your business.
“Facebook and Twitter tend to be the platforms of choice,” she says.
“But I think Instagram can be really powerful – it’s one of my favourite platforms. As an online retailer if you haven’t looked at Instagram as a social media platform for your business, now is the time to start looking at it.”
Jane Lu, founder of Sydney-based online fashion retailer Showpo, says for businesses to use Instagram effectively they have to treat it like an online community – just as you would any other social media platform.
“Traditionally, Instagram was kind of like a candid behind-the-scenes look,” Lu told SmartCompany.
“But the way the market has changed, you actually need to have really good quality photos, especially for a professional page.”
Lu also encourages SMEs – particularly online retailers – to know who their market is and to not be afraid to take risks.
“At the end of the day, post a bunch of stuff and whatever works post more of it,” says Lu.
“For us, it’s your cat photos, dog photos, fashion and beauty. Sometimes we find out if we do something different it works and outperforms everything, but sometimes it flops. But it’s important to take those risks.”
Lu says a good way to increase interaction with existing customers, as well as gain attention from potential ones, is to repost images of people using or wearing your product. Organising competitions should also not be underestimated when it comes to attracting new followers.
“Especially if you have competitions that ask you to tag your friends and maybe their friends,” she says. “If you offer to share a post, that reaches out to their network.”