As consumers shift their trust from brands to influencerssocial media platforms have been playing an increasingly important role in advertising. In a bid to give its 200,000 advertisers more insights into their audiences, Instagram has launched a set of tools to help companies reach customers and measure the results of their efforts.

Among the new additions are “business profiles” for companies actively selling on the network as well as tweaks to its analytics and targeting functions.

“Instagram already plays an important role in our decision to buy a product; in fact, our research shows that people are willing to spend more if they see a product endorsed by an online influencer on the platform,” explains Rakhee Jogia, regional director of the display arm at Rakuten Marketing Europe.

“However, Instagram’s new set of business-orientated tools will give advertisers access to a whole host of new insights about their followers, as well as a direct way to build loyal relationships.”

Boosting e-commerce

Alongside business profiles, Instagram has presented advertisers with ‘connect’ buttons which enable potential customers to get in touch with companies to find out more about their offering.

According to Jogia, this tool will enable brands to stay in control of the relationships they build, as users won’t need to leave the site to unearth additional details.

“The new contact button should improve the likelihood of the customer taking action and therefore makes Instagram an even more viable e-commerce platform.”

More room is afforded to an analytics tool dubbed ‘Insights’, which presents actionable information on the people connecting with content on the app. It’s understood this will also show stats on engagement in a simplified format.

Changing its tune

Such additions are a far cry from the sorts of tweaks that were being made some four years ago, when Instagram’s simplified, image-focused offering broke onto the scene.

Since a $1 billion purchase by Facebook in 2012, more and more features have been added to monetise its 500-million-strong user base, fuelling reports that it could overtake Twitter in terms of revenue from advertisers.

“Brands are increasingly using Instagram’s biggest influencers to front marketing campaigns and promote products or exclusive content, but they need to use data to understand what is best resonating with their audience in order to continually improve campaigns,” said Jogia.

It’s her understanding that the toolkit will enable brands to go “beyond assumptions” about the audiences and use the knowledge from analytics to improve user experience on the social platform.