Instagram for Business What's New
November 20, 2020
With so many changes in social media, Bec can’t keep up! Listen as Sharney explains some of the new features of Instagram for business.
Bec: You’re listening to “Mash Pod,” a weekly digital marketing podcast brought to you by Mash Media. Okay, so today, we are talking about Instagram, and I am going to be chatting with our creative director, Sharney Ryan. Hey, Sharney, how are you?
Sharney: I am good, thank you.
Bec: That’s excellent. Thanks for coming into the studio for a chat. Now, I am famously a very low user of Instagram, but it’s taken over Facebook as the market leader in social media, and there are currently over a billion users worldwide. So considering that mostly…well, 81% of users in the last data drop use Instagram to decide on a purchase, myself included, I shamefully do it all the time, that means it’s huge real estate for brands. So Sharney, what kind of businesses should be using Instagram marketing?
Sharney: Well, look, I think all businesses should have a presence. But what I’m finding with the conversations I’m having with clients at the moment is more what kind of presence. So do you need to have influencers talking about your brand and promoting your products or do you need to just be staying front of mind to your existing client base? Are you trying to grow or are you just trying to maintain the status quo in the social media realm? So I think it’s just more important for business owners to know what their customers are doing and adjust accordingly, essentially.
Bec: So basically, that’s a conversation we’d need to have with each client based on, like, what their business goals were and also the kind of product they’re selling, I suppose.
Sharney: Yeah. Look, to give you some examples, just looking at ourselves and some of our clients, I mean, people don’t generally go to Instagram because they wanna get a website. But we do it because it does allow us to showcase our work, so people can go and have a look when we’ve published a website. If they’re reading our feed, they’ll see it and go, “Oh, wow, that website looks really good,” and it might create that thought process of, “Oh.” So essentially, we do it not because we need to grow a huge audience and not because we’re going to get clients coming streaming through our doors from Instagram, but it is staying front of mind.
Also, you know, for us, as a marketing company, it showcases our work, which I find is what a lot of our clients do it for, is more not so much to gain new leads, but more to stay front of mind and to be a showcase for their work, so they can direct people either from their website or, through conversation, “Jump on our Instagram, check us out, have a look at some our products.”
Bec: So Mash Media, like, we sort of use it as a visual portfolio, so that prospective clients can sort of see what we’ve done. And I guess some other clients might use it for information purposes. A lot of people use social media to get sort of up-to-the-minute information about a business or a topic.
Sharney: Yeah, absolutely. I mean, we’ve got some clients that post multiple times a day. We have some clients that post once a week. It’s really, again, having that strategy of, “What are my clients using social media for and do I want to be bombarding them every day? Do I need to be in their face constantly?”
Bec: Yeah, like if they’re gonna be…
Sharney: [crosstalk 00:03:36:00] for example.
Bec: Is there gonna be fatigue on seeing the same…well, not the same image, but a post from the same company a few times a day?
Sharney: Yeah. I mean, you know, if you’re an accountant, for example, people probably don’t want to get tax advice every single day in their feed. In fact, I think you’ll probably find you’ll actually have the opposite effect and people will unfollow. But that being said, you might wanna stay front of mind such as, “Hey, did you know the RBA’s just dropped its percentage points by…”
Bec: The interest rate, yeah. Yeah, you’re right, because if I was being guilted into doing my tax return on time, I’d probably sort of roll my eyes and be like, “Oh, my god, why are you judging me?” whereas, yeah, if the interest rates have dropped, I’d think, “Okay, that’s good to know.”
Sharney: Yeah. So, you know, we have clients that are selling products like hairbrushes and kids’ clothes and shoes and things like that. Those kind of clients, they wanna be posting every day because they wanna capture women when they’re ready to shop, which is often, let’s be honest. So they wanna be posting every day, like, “Hey, we’ve got this new in, or we’ve got, Hey, look at this person wearing our shoes here, or look at this person wearing our dress.” Whereas, like you said, accountants or, you know, flooring companies or, like, for example, our client, Parrys who, you know, we do their social media. We do post quite readily for them, five times a week, but it’s not, “Here’s our timber floor in this color, here’s our carpet in this color.” You know, we often do inspiration for your bathroom and care things. You know, some tips on how to get stains out of carpet. And so it’s not constantly in your face, going, “Here’s my product, buy it. Here’s my product, buy it,” but it’s little tips and all that. Yeah, inspiration.
Bec: It’s not an impulse buy, flooring, but your note about the shoes, yeah, during lockdown, I think I have purchased at least three pairs of shoes browsing on Instagram.
Sharney: I know, right? Instagram’s the worst for buying things. I’m waiting for packages for swimwear, dreaming of summer.
Sharney: I bought some random mascara thing for your hair.
Bec: Oh, cool.
Sharney: I went, “Oh, yeah, that looks good.” It’s like a little mascara wand that you brush it and it’s, like, meant to sort of get your flyaways to…you know, and I’ve got those to prevent those happening. And so I went, “Oh, that looks amazing.” There’s all those videos of it, and I bought it, would you believe, and it’s sitting in my bathroom cabinet. I haven’t even opened it.
Bec: Yeah. I have, like, an entire cupboard full of shameful beauty buys that were very, very impulsive. I don’t regret any of them, but I certainly don’t use most of them. So that sort of tells you something about how Instagram can…yeah, it just is excellent at, like, making you think, “Look, this is an amazing thing.” Because, again, like, it’s not just images. You can do video. And I was gonna ask about Reels versus Stories because I don’t use it that often. And I do use Stories more often that posting a photo. But now there’s Reels as well.
Sharney: …around, you know, when you’re recording, the Chinese government could, at any time, say, “Hey, we want access to all of the data that you’ve collected.” So they’ve banned it in the U.S. They’re looking at banning around the rest of the Western world. So Instagram reacted very quickly and went, “Right, let’s create Reels.” Essentially, all it really is is very, very similar to TikTok. So it’s just little videos, usually to music.
Bec: So this is the kind of thing people would do, like, their dances to or things like that?
Sharney: Mm-hmm. Although, you can do little advert-type videos. I guess what the difference is with the Reels is it’s, again, kind of almost like TikTok/YouTube because it has its own tab. So people can do these videos and that can be stored in that Instagram tab there, so people can then go, “Oh, what are all the videos these guys have?” So it’s not like they have to scroll down through your feed and go, “Oh, that looks like a video, I can watch that.” It’s actually a tab there.
Bec: Okay, cool, because Stories disappear after 24 hours.
Sharney: Yes. Stories disappear after 24 hours. I mean, feeds, depending on how often people post, you could be going forever to try and find something, whereas videos can be stored in your IGTV. And here’s a little tip. The swipe-up function that you can get on a Story, it’s only available if you have over 10,000 followers. So it’s made for big brands to be able to create that swipe up to link to a particular page of a product or an offer that they might be having. Like, here’s a little tip. If you have at least three videos in your IGTV, you can actually get that swipe-up feature.
Bec: Okay, that’s excellent information. Because, yeah, that’s definitely a question I’ve heard from people sort of inquiring about Instagram marketing. Like, “How do I get all these cool features like, you know, polls and swipe up and tagging in Stories and Reels?” So that’s very, very cool.
Sharney: Mm-hmm. Yes, it is. So even if you’re not comfortable doing video, it might be worth thinking about creating some, if for no other reason than to be able to open up that swipe-up function. Because people, as you know, will look at that story. It goes very, very quickly. But if you’ve got a swipe-up function and you’re doing a post about a particular sale, for example, you can say, “So and so item, 20% off, swipe up,” and as they swipe up, it’s gonna link straight to your website for that particular product. Whereas, without that swipe-up function…
Bec: It just disappears.
Sharney: …all you can do is say, “Visit our website,” or you’ve got the ads and they can click on your Instagram feed. And this is the other thing. Do you have the shopping function on your Instagram feed? Because that costs money as well. If you don’t have that, the swipe-up function allows you to send people straight to your website, so it makes it easy for them impulse buy.
Bec: Oh, cool. So that’s a little bit of a workaround, then, to not having, like, a paid account. And also, it’s less clicks for someone to get to your actual website.
Bec: Yeah. The SEO person in me loves that.
Sharney: [crosstalk 00:09:39:00] …person in me loves that.
Bec: Yeah. So growing your account. I know when I started my Instagram account, I really struggled and, to be honest, I have left mine personally to the wayside. But I have heard that the more activity you have, so following and unfollowing other pages, engaging with other accounts, sort of, the more presence you get in search. Let’s talk about that because, to me, it sounds really easy to gain if you’ve got the time to do it.
Sharney: Easy, yes. Time? Well, that’s the biggest the commodity, isn’t it?
Bec: It is.
Sharney: Look, in a nutshell, I think I did a post about it recently, there is no miracle bullet. When it comes to social media, it is building a community, and there’s no miracle way to do that. It takes either investment in things like ads and Instagram shout-outs from Instagram influencers and things like that, or it takes time. So, yes, it’s quite easy to grow but, I mean, when I say time, I’m meaning hours every day. Hours every day, scrolling through feeds, liking, commenting, sharing. Not just liking, commenting, sharing. That’s not enough on its own. You also have to be actively following the right kind of audience. So you’ve gotta know what kind of hashtags and you’ve gotta follow people that you want to follow you back.
Bec: So it comes down to, like, a lot of relevance and quality, as well as just the actual mechanics of the follow/unfollow.
Sharney: Yeah, it does. And then, on top of that, you’ve then gotta consider, okay, you might spend all this time and effort getting all these new followers, but then, what’s to stop them from turning around and unfollowing you next day? So, for example, you might spend two hours one night going bang, bang, bang, and being really excited because the next day, you wake up and over the weekend you’ve gained 100 followers. And you’re like, “Woo-hoo, I’ve got 100 extra followers.” But guess what? On Monday, there’s only gonna be 60 of them, and you’ll be like, “What happened? All that work to get that 100 followers.” And that’s what happens. A lot of people will follow and unfollow. It’s a real vanity metric that plays into Instagram that’s quite childish, really, but it just is. It’s there, it happens, it’s real.
Bec: Well, yeah, because it doesn’t necessarily mean anything, does it? Because I’ve heard of people buying fake followers. So if you’re purely going by how many people follow you, there’s a huge chance that half of them are bots.
Sharney: Well, for example, you know, to take my personal Instagram page, I think I have about 4000 followers of mine. And I roughly get about anywhere between 100 and 200 likes per post. But you can get the influencers, you know, some of the fashionable influencers that have between 10,000 and, say, 15,000 followers, who get less likes that what I do, which I always find quite interesting. And I’m like, “How can someone that, you know, does this almost for a living as an influencer, you know, that’s always publishing and pushing out products and things like that, have such a huge following and so little engagement, which really only leads to one thing?” Yeah, well, that’s exactly it. It really only leads to one thing, which is they’ve got fake followers.
Bec: Yeah, must be, because you’d think the ratio would be so much higher, just based on math, not anything else.
Sharney: But businesses are getting more savvy because certain platforms where you can look for influencers…so if you’re a business and you go, “Right, I wanna grow, but I wanna have an influencer to help, sort of, push people to my page,” certain platforms where you can find these influencers are now showing you not just how many followers they’ve got, but what their engagement rate is. So it’ll give you a percentage. It will give you the average amount of comments, the average amount of likes, and also the engagement rate. So people are starting to cotton onto…don’t just look at the numbers because the numbers can lie.
Bec: Yeah, and that sounds like much better metrics on how to evaluate if an influencer is right for your business. Because, I mean, you see all these…I mean, they’re funny stories, but they’re also really sad where, you know, so-called influencers are like, “I have 10,000 followers, I want free dinner.” And, you know, businesses are feeling helpless to that kind of request these days because it is a bit of a currency situation.
Sharney: Yeah. Yep. I guess my advice to most businesses is don’t fall for that. At the end of the day, if you are going to be giving away free dinners and free meals, find your own influencers that you feel are gonna have the right target audience. Because if you’ve got someone come into your restaurant and say, “Hey, I’ve got this many followers,” and they show you their Instagram, so you see it and you’re like, “Yep, okay,” well, that’s great. But you don’t know what their average like rate is. And also, that person could be a fashion influencer that has nobody that follows them about food.
Bec: Yeah, it could be highly irrelevant.
Sharney: Well, not only that, you could have someone that…well, not quite so much at the moment, but, you know, times gone past and times hopefully in the future, you could have someone from Brisbane who’s on holiday in Melbourne for the Grand Final. They go in there and they’ve got 20,000 followers and they say to this restaurant, “Hey, I want free meals for my table of my posse of 10 people,” which is gonna cost this restaurant a lot of money. But the reality is, if there’s a Brisbane fashion influencer, it’s gonna have no relevance to a local restaurant in Melbourne.
Bec: Yeah, there’s no repeat customers there at all.
Bec: Yeah, that’s crazy. So I think, yeah, I guess a good way of turning the tables on this would be becoming informed about how engagement and the, you know, amount of likes versus engagement works. And then, the business can then approach influencers that suit them, as opposed to the other way around. They can take some power back into this Instagram marketing.
Sharney: Absolutely. I’d implore them to because, I mean, look, it could just add up, can’t it? I’ll spend a bit of money on AdWords, I’ll spend a bit of money on this, I’ll spend a bit of money on that. It’s just mind-bending.
Bec: Really, it doesn’t get you anything.
Sharney: No, but they can. This is the thing. For the right influencer, the right business, that relationship can be so beneficial. So, again, I’ll just give you a personal example. I think we’ve talked quite a lot about nootropics. We both are quite big believers in nootropics. And the brand that I particular have is one that my naturopath recommended. And I put a post up about it a little while ago, and I had so many people comment, going, “Oh, where’d you get that from?” And, I mean, it wasn’t a paid endorsement. It was just a researched product that I find really works really well for me, that I really love. And because it was an authentic post, I had a lot of people engaging about it. So that particular company, had they have sent that to me for free, it would’ve cost them maybe $200.
But you know what? They would’ve got quite a bit of business from that. And I’m not an influencer anyway. I’m just me, you know? Just an ordinary person. So when you’re talking influencers who have big audiences, if you find the right ones with the right audience, for the sake of a product that may retail for $200, that costs you $100, add on $10 for shipping in there, so $110. Well, I mean, you look at that from an AdWords perspective or from an SEO perspective, it’s one hour of work or it’s, what, three clicks to your website? Whereas, you can have someone actively out there promoting your product to an audience of people that are likely to buy it.
Bec: Yeah. Because, I mean, I feel sometimes the celebrity endorsements can fall flat a little bit. But if someone I really respect in my, sort of, friendship circle, or even friends of friends, if something’s really working for them and I feel like our lives are sort of on the same path or, like, in the place, I’d absolutely think about that a lot more and probably research it.
Sharney: Well, didn’t you just buy a knife because one of your friends had one?
Bec: Yes. And that was a completely…
Sharney: And we all do it.
Bec: That’s a fairly big-ticket item, too. I mean, it wasn’t an impulse buy by any means, but hearing my friend talk about how beautiful it was and the craftsmanship, because I knew that he had seen it in person, as opposed to someone just writing a review on a website, I felt lots more confident about spending several hundred dollars on a single item that, you know, I will use maybe once a week.
Sharney: And if I had time to cook and I was in a position where I wanted to buy knives, I would wanna buy this knife because you’ve told me about it.
Bec: Oh, it’s beautiful. It is more of an art piece in my kitchen now than an actual implement, which I’m totally fine with because I feel that it has brought me happiness in many other ways, other than just cutting vegetables.
Sharney: So, essentially, if you think about it, if you turn it on its head, using Instagram can be a way to show off your products. But if you have the right relationship with the right people, it’s almost like having a walking billboard directly aimed at your target audience. But you just have to not be haphazard with it and just go, “Oh, yep,” to anybody that offers, and do a little bit of research into it or partner with an agency who will do it for you.
Bec: Yeah. And I guess that…
Sharney: Shameless plug of Mash Media.
Bec: I guess that kind of also leads into, like, branding because even if you’re getting influencers to sort of talk about your product, even your normal, sort of, Instagram feed should be on-brand. Like, you should’ve talked about this with, like, your branding manager or your account manager and make sure that your color palette’s correct and, you know, the right message is getting out there.
Sharney: Absolutely, yep.
Bec: Because I know for personal posts, there’s a lot of leeway there because everyone has their own idea about how they wanna be seen. But I guess for a business, yeah, you wanna be on-brand 100%. Like, you don’t see McDonald’s posting, you know, Instavideos from the [inaudible 00:19:20] Things like that.
Sharney: Yeah. Well, you don’t see purple on their feed. You know, it’s all the yellow and red.
Bec: Well, unless it’s about Grimace. Does Grimace still exist?
Sharney: I don’t know. Yeah, I think so.
Bec: I don’t even know anymore. Cool. All right, well, look, that’s a lot of information just about Instagram. You know, when it first came out, I thought I was gonna be an early adopter and love it, but I have neglected a little bit. But now that I know a little bit more, I think I’m ready to dip my toe back in.
Sharney: Well, I have to say, I prefer…I mean, as you know, I’m not a really big fan of social media. Strange for a digital marketing agency owner, I know, but I’m not really a huge fan of social media. I find it very time consuming and draining, and I often feel that I don’t that I don’t get any value out of it. I mean, time is the most precious commodity for me. Being a working mom, you know, trying to grow a business, you know, have a family, time is a commodity.
Bec: I agree.
Sharney: And there’s only so many hours in a day. And for me to spend two hours stuffing around on social media or Instagram is just an epic waste of time when I could be doing something valuable. So I’m not really in love with it, but I have to say, of all the platforms, I went from loving LinkedIn…I used to spend ages on LinkedIn every morning reading all these articles, whereas now, I find all I get is bombarded with ads and people constantly emailing me, going, “I could you on the first page of Google,” and, you know, “I build wonderful websites.” And I feel like, now, I get more spam through LinkedIn than any other platform.
Bec: But don’t you think it’s funny that they’re offering you these services without actually reading your profile?
Sharney: Well, yeah. But yeah, you know, and then Facebook, look, Facebook, I have to say, is great for being able to see what’s going on with your family and friends when you’ve got people in other countries and other states. But then, the funny thing with that is the algorithm kind of tends to run against you because I’m seeing what’s most popular in people’s feeds and not what matters to me.
Bec: Yeah, and they’ve changed the interface again, so it’s really difficult to find how to filter it by most recent as well.
Sharney: Yeah. So I find, at least with Instagram, it’s much easier to filter and see what’s recent. You know, you’ve got the Stories and you can see what’s recent. You can scroll through it quite quickly and just check on the Stories of the people that you wanna see if they’ve got one. So, yeah, I find you don’t get bombarded with emails and stuff like that.
Bec: Yeah, and I find it’s just easier to do the scroll as well. Like if it’s the end of the night, I’m having a cup of tea and and I’m just wasting a bit of time, looking through Instagram is less of a mental load for me than filtering things on Facebook, looking at all the horror that’s happening on Twitter. And yeah, LinkedIn, don’t get me started. On mobile, it’s just not very user-friendly. So I think Instagram has a lot going for it for the, you know, the 20 minutes you’ve got to, like, waste a bit of time at the end of the day, maybe, as opposed to the 8 hours or so you need to spend on it to build it.
Sharney: I think it’s the black horse for a lot of businesses, that they may already be on Facebook or on Twitter, or definitely feel that LinkedIn’s their main source. I think Instagram’s one of those ones that’s creeping up that you may need to consider if you haven’t considered it in the past. Because it’s not just for young people anymore. It’s not just for moms. It’s not just for fashion. It can be for anything.
Bec: Yeah. Because they’re adding so many different new benefits to it, you know, and things like Reels in response to a completely different platform, it’s gonna cross boundaries with ages and different types of business and what you can do with it. So I think it’s definitely something people should jump onto, even if it is just to create a bit of real estate for your brand.
Sharney: Yeah, exactly. And look, every platform, as we know, has its own pros and cons, and they all have their own value. I think with Facebook at the moment, Groups is a really big thing for business. Facebook Groups. But I think Instagram’s definitely one of those ones, like you said, with all the additional functionality and the fact that you can now combine your messaging. So you’re not having to go into Facebook messages and into Instagram messages.
Bec: Yes, I noticed that change.
Sharney: Yeah. I mean, for businesses, that’s huge because you’ve got emails, you’ve got text messages, you’ve forms that come from your website, phone calls. And at least if your Facebook and Instagram are on one messaging platform, that’s helpful.
Bec: Yeah, that’s one of those 1% things that can make things a lit bit easier when you’re keeping track of everything.
Sharney: Yeah. So, yeah, I definitely think Instagram gets a thumbs up if for nothing else, for branding and for real estate. But I definitely think more businesses need to have a look at a strategy around their social media. I mean, you’re gonna get left behind if you’re not.
Bec: Absolutely. So, yeah, no, it’s great takeaways. I think businesses definitely need a strategy. They need to follow their branding, and I think they need to take the power back from influencers and do some research there into them and kind of turn the tables a little bit.
Sharney: Yeah, definitely.
Bec: Cool. All right. Thank you, Sharney, for all that info. Yeah. I learned quite a few things today about Instagram.
Sharney: Yeah, hopefully there’s a few little takeaways that everyone can grab out of it. And there’s lots more tips on how to maximize Instagram, and even about the algorithm and how it works, and maybe we can have another chat another day about the algorithm itself.
Bec: Yeah, we can get in depth a bit more. Once I learn how to do all this stuff, I’ll have more questions.
Sharney: All right, sounds good.