Instagram’s small businesses are ‘leading the way’ in Stories usage and innovation

Instagram is reporting that 100 million of its users are now uploading Stories on its platform every day. Yet despite there being no purpose-built advertising slot in the feature for brands to play with, it is businesses that are “leading the way” in creating this ephemeral content, according to its head of small/medium business advertising EMEA, Jen Ronan.

Stories, the offering launched in August this year, was designed to make it easier for users to share their ‘daily moments’, while its newsfeed was stripped of chronological order and loaded with a personalised algorithm. As such, Ronan said she has seen her charge using Stories to “tell the moments in between the more iconic shots in their feed”.

“Because businesses play such a rich role within our community, we’ve seen they are the profiles that have led the way and really innovated in [the Stories] space,” she said. “They’re telling stories of behind the scenes, of the day to day, and really building their brand in that way.”

Ronan’s comments are more than just PR guff: the small businesses her team chose to showcase at last night’s #Instagiftguide event echoed her observations. Georgia Green, the owner of colourful bakery Georgia’s Cakes, said Stories works for her business page because the more ad-hoc photos and videos she uploads through the feature don’t impede on the highly edited, portfolio-style nature of her profile.

“It doesn’t matter what they look like on your page and they can be a lot more personal…it’s nice for my customers and followers to see what I’m like as a person,” she explained.

Alec Farmer, the founder of outdoor accessory brand Trakke, agreed: “It’s quite nice that we can have a well-curated gallery on our feed, and also upload the spontaneous, day-to-day stuff.”

“We’ve got tools like Boomerang and Hyperlapse and we’re also seeing businesses really playing around with,” said Ronan. “They can be used to tell the lighter side of their businesses.”

The next big project for Instagram’s business teams to take on – and eventually monetise – will no doubt be live streaming, a new feature it announced last week. Ronan said that while she had “nothing to share at this moment in time” regarding plans to entice advertisers to the platform with arguably 2016’s hottest video trend, she said Instagram has “heard lots of excitement about it”.

“People have seen great success on the Facebook side and with other live channels, but at this moment it’s too early to tell,” she explained.

Ronan also said that her 2017 focus will be on continuing to “make it even easier for businesses to connect with the people that matter to them and their customers”.

With the Facebook metrics review still looming large at her parent company – a subject the brand “don’t have anything additional to share at this time” - it will surely also be about keeping interest and trust alive with her brand partners too.