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Instagram is Making it Easier to Kickstart your Small Business

Marketing

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Instagram Shops, IGTV, and Pinned Comments are just a few recent updates to help small businesses market their products and services.

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With eCommerce sales rising amid the COVID-19 lockdown, platforms are working every angle to make their interface friendly to brands and businesses looking to build a digital presence in the absence of a traditional brick-and-mortar experience. Leading in the space is Instagram and its parent company Facebook.

Specifically, Instagram has recently introduced a number of ways it’s committing to achieve this underlined by themes of discovery, monetization, and driving conversations around specific products and services.

Making Content Discoverable via the “Shops Tab”

Originally introduced in May as part of a larger announcement of Facebook and Instagram Shops, more users can now expect to see the new “Shop” tab within their bottom navigation bar. At a high-level, users who use the tab will be driven to the current shopping experience in the app which consists of a list of postings with Shopping Tags attached. They can filter by specific categories, including Beauty, Clothing & Accessories, Home, and Travel, much the same way they’re able to via Instagram Explore. Ultimately, additional purchase options will be added as parent company Facebook onboards more companies and introduces more selling options.

Per TechCrunch, the new tab will be indicated with a “Shop” icon that will replace the heart icon (Activity) in the app’s main navigation though the Activity feed will still be available either by toggling to an icon in the top right corner, beside the icon of a ‘Direct’ paper plane, or by going to their profile and tapping the heart icon. For more general insights into set up a Facebook shop, check out this new Blueprint education course the platform recently unveiled.

Maximizing Your IGTV Efforts

Earlier this Spring Instagram shared several key changes to its IGTV app including an important cross-promotional update whereby the first 15 seconds of the video will play with the rest of the content available via a ‘swipe up’ link, as opposed to a freeze-frame from the clip. In addition to this, the platform introduced a broader overhaul of the IGTV display options within the Discover tab. The intent was primarily to highlight top creators but, more importantly, allow users to have more specific control over what they see as opposed to limiting search options solely based on content they’ve already engaged with.

In this vein of ‘control,’ more recently Instagram introduced additional options allowing creators and brands to edit the preview images and thumbnails of their IGTV videos that are displayed in the feed. The app is also unveiling capability for IGTV creators to cross-post to Facebook Watch, serving to increase the exposure of their uploads. With the roll-out of IGTV monetization including ads and Badges through which users can donate to their favorite broadcasters, this is a significant incentivizing factor for companies looking to double down on e-commerce efforts amidst the global pandemic and boost their digital presence.

Put differently, marketers want a reason to put resources against yet another digital app. With further options to generate income from IGTV, they’ll naturally find more reasons to make it a consistent focus. For context into just how much live-stream viewership has increased in recent months, Instagram reported a 70 percent uptick between February and March alone.

Pinning Post Comments

Following a test in May, Instagram is announcing that users can now pin up to three comments within a comment thread. To do this, swipe to the left and tap on the icon resembling a thumbtack. Each of the three posts you designate to pin will appear underneath your photo with a “Pinned” label beneath.

Per Instagram’s VP of Product Vishal Shah, the option is designed to enable brands and users to control the tone of conversations. “By highlighting positive comments, you can better manage the tone of the conversation,” he shared on Twitter. From an e-commerce standpoint, this stands to be a useful way for those building their e-commerce presence to promote great reviews of their product and learn more about new purchasing behaviors by boosting relevant questions and feedback.

Though still up for debate, many experts in space anticipate that such trends will hold beyond the pandemic. Why? As more consumers experiment with online buying options and recognize the convenience and efficiencies of shopping from the comfort of their home, they won’t go back. This will ultimately exacerbate the current growth in e-commerce. Pivoting, in this case, is not necessarily only about a change in direction, but much more directly correlated with moving the needle of a business.

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