Small Businesses: Instagram Wants You In and What’s App Wants Your Money

Sunsets; what strangers cooked for their dinner; cute pets. You can find photos of all these things on Instagram, but the Facebook-owned social media company is determined to show that small businesses belong there too – just as much as they do on Facebook. Your presence is also desired on Facebook-owned WhatsApp – providing you’re paying to reach out to their users…

What’s Up With WhatsApp?

Nothing much – except that the 99 cent annual fee wasn’t working, according to Jan Koum, WhatsApp’s co-founder and chief executive. At the DLD technology conference in Munich, he said this would be scrapped and the focus will now be on making businesses pay to connect to WhatsApp users.

Facebook acquired WhatsApp in 2014, paying $22bn for the messaging application that currently boasts around 900m users. Although Koum didn’t have any details of a future business model, a recent blog post about the fee scrapping said:

‘Naturally, people might wonder how we plan to keep WhatsApp running without subscription fees and if today’s announcement means we’re introducing third-party ads. The answer is no. Starting this year, we will test tools that allow you to use WhatsApp to communicate with businesses and organizations that you want to hear from to make this easier to do on WhatsApp, while still giving you an experience without third-party ads and spam.’

Picture This: Carousel Advertising on Instagram

Marne Levine, chief operating officer of Facebook-owned Instagram, was also at the DLD technology conference discussing the future of the social media site – which includes closer working links with Facebook’s sales team.

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

Facebook acquired Instagram for $1bn in 2012, and although at present it’s still run as a separate company – as per the parent company’s original stated intention – links between the two are set to be strengthened. According to Ms Levine, Facebook’s sales team are promoting Instagram’s targeted marketing to small businesses, with a priority on international expansion – understandable, as 75% of Instagram’s 400m users are outside the US.

Last year, Instagram launched new carousel adverts that allowed businesses to display several images at once and include links to their products and websites, and also short videos – but Ms Levine said there are no plans at present to follow Facebook’s lead and trial a ‘Buy’ button.

“What you’ve mostly seen so far is bigger brands and bigger businesses using advertising to connect with consumers. I think what you’ll see in 2016 is small businesses starting to advertise more and take advantage of this platform.”

Instagram’s Business Blog says that people come to Instagram for ‘visual inspiration’, and that advertising on the site ‘has the power to touch, inspire and move people,’ claiming that 97% of measured campaigns on the platform ‘have generated significant lifts in ad recall.’

It will be interesting to see if the UK’s small businesses are sufficiently convinced to hop on the Instagram bandwagon.


Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments