Instagram Brand Profiles for Local Businesses
So far, 2016 has been a busy year for Instagram. The algorithm update and the new logo may have received groans from the general public, but the app has truly established itself as the best social platform for brands and small businesses to cultivate their loyal fans and potential customers. Businesses are constantly seeking a new avenue of advertising and brand reach, and Instagram seems to be right in the spotlight.
Instagram to Introduce Brand Profiles…
Recode announced this past March that Instagram was aggressively working on new, business-focused features. The updates have included analytics and sponsored content advertising, and now, Instagram is seemingly testing business profiles that allow customers to get directions to a business location or contact the brand directly.
As exciting as this sounds to many of us, we’re not really sure when these new business-friendly features will roll out as no official date has been set. But, we do have images of what these improved profiles might look like.
How Instagram Brand Profiles Help Local SEO
After a closer look at the screenshots above, I got really excited about what this could mean for local businesses that want to connect with their existing customers and reach a wider audience.
As an SEO Account Manager, I’ve always stressed the importance of considering the user’s mobile experience. Many, if not most, of my clients come to me with the sole focus of improving their business’ local search results — until I explain to them how their brand can be seen by customers beyond a desktop search. Often, the conversation about how local business SEO strategy and the use of social media can make for a well-rounded mobile experience quickly becomes grey.
Local SEO + Mobile UX = $$$
It essentially boils down to understanding that any improvements to a customer’s’ mobile web experience should work alongside SEO. At 50.3%, mobile is quickly passing computers when it comes to being used to drive e-commerce traffic. Utilizing these upcoming Instagram business profiles will expand your local presence by both amplifying your brand online and allowing customers to reach you outside of a computer-optimized search.
Social Media Today explains this relationship further:
The option to contact the business direct resolves one of the major headaches for brands on the platform, given the inability to include links in your content (other than the one available in your profile space). Giving users an immediate means to get in touch will make it easier for brands to connect with potential customers, while they also won’t have to waste any bio space on putting their e-mail address into their description (in non-clickable format).
As noted by TechCrunch, it’s also interesting that Instagram’s opted to provide an e-mail connection, rather than using the platform’s in-built messaging functionality, but I suspect the platform might eventually be looking to add more options to this menu, including the ability to contact the brand via Facebook Messenger, which is an avenue for eCommerce that Facebook’s extremely keen to push forward at the moment.
Clicking on the ‘Get Directions’ option brings up a map screen with the business location highlighted with a drop-pin.
Even if your business doesn’t necessarily need Instagram as a social platform, the app can be used as a sort of visual directory — one that streamlines the process of current and new users being able to connect with your business.
Taking Social Conversions to the Next Level
News of the Instagram brand profile update now gives more credibility to how social media marketing can seriously boost the effects of SEO strategy. Since it’s a visual platform, a solid Instagram strategy should be all about using the app to tell a story and to connect the brand’s messaging with its audience.
Any locally-operating e-commerce or service-based businesses benefit from using Instagram by showcasing products and services, growing their audience, and connecting with influencers. Using relevant hashtags with each post can drive even more awareness to the business and make users feel like they not only know the brand’s messaging, but that the messaging matches up with their own lives, personalities, and values.
Beyond the immediate engagement (hearts, comments, and the increase in followers), tracking Instagram conversions in Google Analytics can be as simple as creating a landing page that’s specifically for the platform. Alternatively, an e-commerce business can create discount codes unique to Instagram to measure how well a campaign has performed.
Since there hasn’t been an official announcement about the launch date for the branded profiles on Instagram, it’s hard to determine exactly when the app can start benefiting Local SEO strategy. Until more concrete news comes out, it’s better to be prepared for these updates — if you have a solid strategy in place, but aren’t active on Instagram, now is a good time to hop on board. By the time the branded profiles roll out, your Instagram presence should be established enough to see some meaningful conversions.