Written by – Rehan at OmeBiz
Technology has vastly changed the business environment over the last 20 years with various platforms popping up from Napster, MSN, to Facebook and Spotify. However, there have been more recent players with different mediums. We are talking about the platforms that share an instant snapshot of your life.
Instagram has been a constant innovator in the business world since its inception. However, with constant updates over the years, there has been a vital shift of Instagram from personal use to a marketing/sales tool for businesses. Statistical data from 2017 showcased that there were approximately 730,000 active Instagram users in Sri Lanka, which is only growing.
Features of the Instagram Business Account
The platform is based on freeware allowing nearly anyone with an internet connection to sign up. The recent update has additional tools specifically for the business aspect known as Insights.
Impressions & Reach
Some of the highlighted features of Insights are analytics, which can be branched off into two categories. The first is – “Impressions”. This would inform you of the number of times your content was displayed on someones screen or feed whether if it has been clicked or not. Having a high Impression rate would showcase that your content is been actively showcased and gaining momentum.
The second is – “Reach”. This would be the total number of people viewing your content specifically, for example interacting by clicking on your content. The key goal would be to turn your impressions into reach and to balance them out evenly, your reach could then be anticipated to be your potential future customers.
Within the analytic section is a followers tab which showcases details of people who interact with your content such as demographics, geographical factors and time of visits. This would help understand what customers would appreciate about your product and helps build upon your businesses brand as well as your target groups.
There is also talk about Instagram “Stories”, which is also gaining traction. This though does not mean that every business needs to hop on the stories train if they are not ready. As having content is more vital posting Instagram stories and boosting advertisements. However, in 2017 there has been an 8% increase in businesses using Instagram stories to place their advertising and this is expected to rise to a rate of 30% in 2018.
So when should I post ?
Businesses are keen to know the best time to post their content. To be honest, there is no hard and fast rule as to when you can post. However, what needs to be considered is the time that your users are active. An example being, if you are targeting the working class audience you would try to post either before or after work, even go as far to post during the lunch break time frame. The peak timings that users are active in Sri lanka would be from 6 pm to 9 pm.
The much needed updates
Other simple functions include placing your opening and closing hours as well as other services such as email, location and telephone number. The most useful of all would be the inclusion of adverts, which help you easily set up an advertisement for your business and promote it to your intended audience with different types of ads. This would be advertisements such as either a video, photo and carousel ads. This does come with parameters such as price based on type, time and a small sponsored tag on the top of your advertisement.
Examples of different businesses that use Instagram
From large firms to sole traders there are many businesses that use the platform. Multinational Corporations (MNCs) such as Unilever’s brand ‘Sunsilk‘, uses Instagram to promote their strong brand name even further. Sunsilk Sri Lanka does this by having organized events where they invite various Bloggers and Instagram Influencers to create content regarding the event and the product that is being promoted.
Another example would be Spa Ceylon. Spa Ceylon’s area of expertise is in Ayurveda cosmetic products that hold the traditional raw ingredients of Sri Lanka. They also cater to spa and relaxation services. They have integrated themselves by promoting their products and services. Spa Ceylon tries to engage their audience by hosting events and promotions such as: the various competitions they had for Valentine’s Day through the help of various Bloggers.
Small to Medium Enterprises (SMEs)
The real magic happens where sole traders start their empires with the help of these platforms as it holds a large customer base. Some of the trending brands on Instagram within Sri Lanka are Bakes by Bella. The Café is famous for their baked goods, lunch and dinner menus and their very unique milkshakes that are called Cake Shakes.
Another trending small to medium enterprise (SME) Instagram account would be that of The Royal and Regal. They deal with clothing and accessories, which has a wide following. Their brand also promotes female empowerment, which further strengthens their brand image.
Other than established businesses, we can also see a rising trend wherein companies approach bloggers and other influencers such as Christina Plate. She was one of the top twenty representing Sri Lanka in the miss universe pageant. Her Instagram feed markets more of the lifestyle aspects by which either she would promote businesses or vice versa. These could range to a diverse field such as cosmetic products, restaurants, hotels and much more.
This is known as influence marketing whereby either companies or the influencer would approach each other and promote their products mainly in terms of functionality and aesthetics. This would mean that the influencer or blogger would post or promote the product. Since influencers are more trusted due to experience or interest in a particular field, consumers feel more inclined to trust these influencers/bloggers rather than direct marketing from the brand.
Businesses that don’t use Instagram yet
Although most of the SMEs discussed are businesses pertaining to lifestyle, a few seem to be thriving on these platforms. Some businesses have a long way to go in order to been seen by the general market. Other businesses that also need to be discussed are those businesses whose products are specialized, or are not sought out by the average user, such as: raw materials like wood or metal, heavy machinery and other products of such large caliber. However with other platforms such as E-bay, Amazon, Alibaba and Sri Lanka’s own Omentra.com, these business can gain traction from being promoted on these platforms as well as bloggers.
It seems that Instagram is a very efficient platform to get customer awareness and engagement further enhancing revenue and growth. This could very well be the replacement of traditional sources as nearly everyone carries their smartphone with them.
With constant updates, who knows what the future would hold for the platform and how far would the market shift?