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Insta-gap: Why Instagram isn’t yet ripe for businesses

4 min read

Brands & Campaigns

Following last week’s blockbuster acquisition of WhatsApp, a lot has been made of the investments that Facebook has made, most notably the $1 billion it spent to acquire Instagram in April 2012.

While the world’s most popular photo-sharing app has made some great strides since then, adding Video for Instagram (a Vine competitor) and Instagram Direct (a Snapchat competitor), it has yet to significantly attract businesses, specifically small businesses. It’s true that many major corporations maintain Instagram accounts and some have even had limited success with unique campaigns, but before businesses flock to Instagram the way they have on Facebook and Twitter, a few adjustments must be made:

  • Hyperlinks have to be live — Social media is not the end for businesses, it’s the beginning. A well-thought out social campaign should drive traffic to your website, increase the size of your house file, amplify your event registrations or any number of other goals that all involve pointing users toward the finish line. Until hyperlinks are live and clickable, dead-end ad campaigns or engagement content will have little to no value to most business owners.
  • Native analytics — I think it’s safe to assume that the days of counting followers and likes are behind us. Call me crazy, but I’d rather have a community of 200 users who engage with every post than a community of 20,000 who don’t engage at all. But in order to know the value of your Instagram community, you need to be able to measure the reach of your posts. Tools such as Statigram and SumAll are available, but Instagram needs to offer more robust analytics to businesses to better evaluate the performance of certain posts and campaigns. (Quick side note about SumAll: If you’re not already using it, get on it immediately. It’s the best.)
  • Regram function — “Viral” is the golden goose of the online world. Everyone wants it, it’s impossible to fake and even harder to capture. Lightning in a bottle. The key to every viral campaign is the thousands of users who have the ability to share your content quickly and easily. Do a quick search for “regram” on the app store and here’s what you get:

More than a dozen apps, some free and some paid, that all do the exact same thing, and none of them quickly or easily. Users and businesses alike are absolutely clamoring for this functionality — how has Instagram ignored it for this long? Whatever the reason, I can’t imagine businesses launching full-scale campaigns without it.

  • Multi-account management — The last reason is more laziness than business savvy but is, in my opinion, extremely underrated. As an in-house social media manager at a corporation, you probably have a personal Instagram account in addition to the one you manage for your business. As an account executive or social media consultant like myself, you might be in charge of 5, 10, or even 15 accounts in addition to your personal one. Can you imagine having to constantly log in and out of every single account each time you wanted to post something? Not to mention that Instagram is a mobile-only application so you don’t even have the help of browsers or Web apps. Facebook and Twitter have both absolutely nailed the ability to manage your personal account and business account(s) from within the same session, and until Instagram finds a way to do the same, it’s going to extremely undesirable for any employee or consultant to take on the task of managing one or multiple business accounts on Instagram.

So there you have it. Coming up on two years after its first major acquisition, and Facebook still has quite a ways to go before closing the gap between Instagram and the millions of businesses who are looking to add an active Instagram presence to their blossoming social media strategy.

What do you think about the way businesses use Instagram currently? Are there any other functions you’d like to see added that would improve a business’ Instagram presence?

Ezra Chasser is the founder of Sore Thumb Marketing, a New York-based consultancy focused on helping small business owners make the most of their online marketing presence. You can reach him via e-mail or @sorethumbnyc.