Instagram started off as a social media photo-sharing platform but has quickly evolved into the robust social networking and shopping platform that it is today. Instagram claimed one billion monthly active users in 2018 and shows no signs of slowing down- especially in the business space. 

Instagram's demographics initially skewed younger than Facebook or LinkedIn, but the app quickly grew as a tool for companies, brand builders, and entrepreneurs to increase engagement, lead generation, conversions, and revenue. If your business isn't tapping the power of Instagram, here are some key considerations to integrate into your social media strategy. 

Influencer Marketing 

Influencers live and breathe Instagram. Convince and Convert states that 2,500 micro-influencers and found that Instagram is their preferred platform. Fifty-nine percent of them say that it's the most effective platform to engage their target audience. Their content is executed to a science, and their perfectly posed photos with an aesthetic filter to match their feed takes time and dedication, but it pays off with strong engagement and conversions. 

Influencer marketing is emerging as an e-commerce sales driver due to the loyalty and engagement influencers hold within their respective online communities.  Companies can take advantage of Instagram's massive growth to reach their exact target demographic through an influencer's following. The communities following standout influencers trust the brands they endorse, generating conversions and sales for their sponsors. 

The Swipe-Up Feature 

Once a company, brand, or person reaches 10,000 followers on Instagram, they are awarded a "swipe-up" feature on their Instagram stories. This allows the account to add a direct call to action link to their story with users simply swiping up to arrive on the brand landing page. This works well for companies promoting business services and courses; by swiping up on a photo or video promotion, the consumer moves directly to the signup form or lead capture. For product e-commerce, the swipe up feature can direct the user straight to the point of purchase. This feature avoids the cumbersome process of the Instagram user taking a screenshot of a URL or a link in a bio, then exiting the app to access your site. The swipe-up feature takes you from interest to action without leaving the app. 

Shoppable Posts 

If you sell physical products, the "shoppable post" feature on Instagram is critical for your business. The feature is only available on a Business Instagram account, so if you are setting up an account for the first time, be sure to choose the business account. This feature provides a seamless way to showcase new products: users tap the photo and begin their buyer's journey without having to leave the app. Instagram shoppable posts are marked with a "Tap to View Products" pop-up or small white circle with a shopping bag icon that lists the product name and price. Shoppable posts eliminate the need to exit the app to purchase the products you see in posts. Simply click on the pop-up and go directly to the point of purchase. 

Instagram is a growing platform with an increasing number of ways for businesses and brands to use specific features to drive business conversions. Along with the features listed here, Instagram is generally a powerful platform for brand building and discoverability which shouldn't be overlooked due to assumptions around its user demographics.