Brands and businesses looking to grow on Instagram need to ensure relevancy is their top priority when looking to engage potential consumers, said the company’s product marketing director Susan Buckner Rose.
Speaking to Campaign Asia-Pacific in Singapore after announcing Indonesia as Instagram’s largest APAC market, Rose said the significant growth in business usage on the platform was encouraging, and that she is focused on driving value for brands.
“Creativity continues to evolve on the platform, particularly through Stories, which is a whole new creative tool,” she said. “But relevancy is more important than the objective level of the creative.”
Rose said part of the joy in her role is seeing businesses experiment with their content on Instagram, which helps her and the product marketing team learn what is working in terms of driving engagement. But top of the list is relevant messaging.
“We place more importance on getting the right content to the right person, from a community/follower perspective, or an ad perspective,” she explained. “Finding your brand voice, understanding what your objective is, and making sure the creative reflects that and speaks to the person you’re trying to reach.”
Instagram announced in June that business profiles on the platform had almost double in a year from 8 million to 15 million. Rose said Instagram is currently testing new products to help businesses “shop their feed” and give greater interaction to consumers in a discovery mindset, which many users are.
This includes clickable tags for products featured in a post, which provide more information like product name, designer and price. Rose said plans are in motion to roll this out across Asia but no firm date is in place yet.
Mindful of Asia’s enormous SME economy, Rose suggested the best thing for local businesses to do is adopt a business profile and get access to Instagram’s campaign/post measurement tools to get better insights into who their user community is.
“We encourage businesses to focus on value,” she said. “We don’t want to be about followers or likes and comments. We hope businesses come to us focused on the metrics, because we want to earn every single dollar that we get and be the best dollar they can spend.”
The huge growth in Stories—with 250 million daily active users—has also been reflected in business users, as the performance marketing and ad tools offered in feed have been incorporated into Stories as well.
“Early on, a third of the most viewed Stories were coming from businesses,” Rose revealed. “A lot of those folks were prepped when we launched the paid product, to then put media behind that. But the news feed and ads in feed are still the base of our business, as we only launched Stories just over a year ago.”
Pressed on the impressive growth of Stories in comparison with Snapchat’s relative stagnation, especially in APAC, Rose gave a measured response: “We’re really focused on Instagram, we’re not thinking as much about the competition.”
In addition, Rose said Instagram has introduced greater transparency around branded content on the platform, having heeded concerns from consumers and businesses.
“We heard from brands and businesses about not knowing the value they’re getting [from branded content], and from the community side, confusion over why they’re seeing certain posts, are they ads or not,” she said.
As such, branded content posts now say “in partnership with” at the end, so consumers are aware that there is a sponsored or paid relationship between the influencer and the brand.
“From the brand perspective, they now have transparency around the value they’re getting from these partnerships,” Rose said.