Why Instagram is a Must Have for Small Businesses

Social media is becoming a driving force on how consumers make their purchasing decisions. Study has shown that 45% of social users said that reading reviews, comments and feedback on social networks influence their shopping behavior. 72% of Instagram users report making purchase decisions based on something that they saw while browsing the app. This behavior is further proven by the increasing amount of ad spend businesses (small and large) are spending on social media. Ad spend on social media in the US alone has increased by over 25% every year, and expected to hit 19 billion dollars by 2018.

To successfully build an e-commerce business, you must have a presence on Instagram. With over 1 billion active users, and 63% of users making $50,000 a year, you have an endless stream of users you can convert to customers. The best news is that 80% of these users already follow at least one business on Instagram. This means unlike Facebook, Instagram is a more accepting platform for businesses to easily share content and build a following.

I say unlike Facebook because Facebook pages use to be the hallmark for businesses to build small communities. But with the new algorithm changes early 2018, Facebook has made it impossible for small businesses to build a following on a Facebook page. Before the changes, growing a Facebook page is very similar to Instagram where all you had to do is post quality content and have it discovered organically through hashtags or it would appear on an user’s newsfeed.

The new algorithm changed the newsfeed from display posts in chronological order to what Facebook thinks will be meaningful conversations you would want to participate in. As Mark Zuckerberg describes, “you’ll see less public content like posts from businesses, brands, and media” in favor of “meaningful conversations.” The algorithm ranks content based on numerous amounts of parameters with the most important being overall post engagement such as likes, comments and shares. As a new page, it’s next to impossible have engagement without running ads against your content to be viewed. So without an existing large following on your Facebook page, it’s next to impossible to grow it without paying substantial amount of advertising fees.

Instagram understands the importance of small business that it has designed key features only available for business profiles. A few of these includes a contact button where customers can contact you via email or phone number through your Instagram profile. After 10K followers, you also unlock the ability to include links on your Instagram stories where users can swipe up and visit your site. The most important feature of them all is the ability to add shoppable links in your posts. This means you can tag a product that appears on your post, and link it directly to your store to purchase.

@Away is one of the best example of shoppable tags used effectively paired with an genius content strategy. This luggage company uses their Instagram as a collection of photos sent in by customers around the world. At first glance, it seems like the profile is a travel/lifestyle blog, but when you look closely, it’s an online store. It has all the elements of an online store with the advantage that it’s actual customers who are sending in these photos. Away gains social proof by showing that customers are using their products from all around the world, and the positive comments in the posts reinforces new users to check them out. Each post is linked to the product shown in the post to make the shopping experience seamless.

Instagram is the only platform today that fully integrates your business into a social platform. As a small business where every dollar is bootstrapped from your years of savings and you feel like there’s not enough working hours in a day, the last thing you want is to invest your effort into a platform that doesn’t care about you. Though Instagram is owned by Facebook, their ideals and plans are completely different. That’s why I believe instagram is here to stay and it’s not too late to start.

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