In March 2016 we wrote a blog looking at ‘5 reasons your business should use Instagram’ – however since then a lot has changed and some of the reasons we championed the social network no longer exist. For example, we were huge fans of the level of organic reach posts received, however this is no longer the case. So, with that in mind we thought we’d address the issue of whether Instagram still offers enough to gain your business’s attention.

Well – the answer is a yes, and an unequivocal one at that! The simple fact is that while some features have been stripped away, plenty more have been added, improving the app both for personal and business use.

Here are 5 updated reasons your business should stick with Instagram.

#01 Dedicated business accounts

The app now allows you to switch to an actual business account. You need a Facebook page in order to do this, but once you’ve switched it suddenly grants you a number of neat features. Firstly, it allows you to place direct links in your bio for users to contact you, whether that be to email, call or text. In addition to this, business accounts also have free access to a range of analytics which track metrics such as reach and engagement of posts along with a brief breakdown of your followers. While it isn’t the most comprehensive set of analytics, it certainly offers enough for you to keep abreast of how your business account is performing.

#02 Instagram stories

Instagram stories are very similar to what Snapchat has to offer in terms of uploading daily content. You can upload content which is visible within your “story” for 24 hours. Instagram stories make for a great way of showing behind the scenes footage or even snapshots of content which you ordinarily wouldn’t share on your main feed. A huge benefit of stories is that they allow you to add a link to every post you upload (limited to accounts with over 10,000 followers), allowing you to post a story and directly link it to a relevant page on your website.

#03 Live video streaming

We’ve seen live video streaming become incredibly popular over the last couple of years, and predictably, Instagram has also joined in on the act. Users can now livestream videos which appear in the “stories” section mentioned above. The handy things about Instagram’s iteration of live videos is that it sends a push notification to followers, making them aware that you’ve gone live and allowing them to jump straight onto Instagram and tune into your video.

#04 Paid promotions

Businesses can now also promote their content on the app. So, while organic engagement might have been hampered, the paid promotion option allows you to make up for the shortfall in reach. The targeting of paid promotions offers enough depth to allow you to reach your desired audience and investment in paid promotions can start from as little as you like. This means you can test and measure your promotions before scaling up and investing more money into them.

#05 Access to influencers

Instagram really laid the foundation for enthusiastic individuals to quickly grow huge followings and eventually become “influencers”. Spanning sectors from the likes of food, to fitness, to beauty – there’s most likely an influencer for businesses of all sizes and virtually any sector to work alongside. As a result, it’s become the perfect place to research and reach out to relevant influencers. Simply start by searching appropriate hashtags and seeing which posts are amongst the most popular that Instagram highlights. These posts are most often the ones which receive the most engagement and therefore tend to house those Instagrammers with the greatest following.

Final words

The early years of Instagram saw it develop a reputation as an app which only sat well with brands that were capable of generating visually compelling content, and while this still plays a large role in succeeding on the social platform, it’s also proven to bode well with content which resonates well with the user, irrespective of how “pleasing it is on the eye”. As a result many brands have benefited from posting personable and humorous content, and while this will only work if it’s in line with your company culture, it has made the social network accessible to even more businesses. The added focus on business profiles and continued improvements being made to the app make it an ideal platform for most businesses to utilise.

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Ian is the founder of Opportunity Marketing marketing, with over 18 years of experience in successfully setting up marketing departments, creating marketing strategies and implementing these strategies across a wide number of SME companies in both the B2B and B2C sectors through a variety of channels.