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Instagram looks to woo small businesses through further Facebook integration

The image-sharing site is turning its attention to small business owners to bolster its advertising offering

Sales integration between Facebook and Instagram is increasing as the latter looks to build upon its advertising business, according to Instagram's chief operating officer Marne Levine.

The image-sharing platform is leveraging Facebook's resources in a bid to woo small businesses as part of its global expansion strategy, the Financial Times has claimed.

Facebook acquired the photography app three years ago for $1bn with a view to running the business as an independent group, but speaking at the DLD technology conference in Munich today (18 January), Levine said Instagram has been relying more heavily on its parent company's sales team.

“When we launched ads two years ago, ads were available in just eight countries. In September, we opened for business in around 200 countries... What you’ve mostly seen so far is bigger brands and bigger businesses using advertising to connect with consumers," she said.

"I think what you’ll see in 2016 is small businesses starting to advertise more and take advantage of this platform."

Pointing to the fact that two thirds of the app's 400m users are based outwith the US, she said that global domination would be key in the coming year and that Facebook's commercial arm would play a pivotal role in helping Instagram hone in on small businesses.

“We can plug in to the infrastructure and really leverage a lot of the resources that Facebook has,” she added.

In 2015, Instagram scaled up its advertising business to implement a "seamless backend" so marketers could use it in tandem with Facebook.

On top of allowing brands to display several images at once and use clickable links it also introduced a new ad format, Marquee, which gives marketers the ability to target a massive audience in a short time frame via a series of images or videos.

However, Levine was quick to quash rumours that the site intends to implement a 'Buy' button similar to the one Facebook has been toying with.

Research conducted last year noted that marketers are rapidly embracing Instagram, with the use of the platform forecasted to double in 2016.

Facebook today announced it will scrap the subscription fees for its messaging service WhatsApp as it looks to implement a more business-centric model similar to that used for Facebook Messenger.