Since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, Instagram had seen a significant rise in the amount of small local online businesses primarily operating from the app. With it, we have also seen the app itself evolve to fit the needs for these businesses to operate.
Here are a few ways that small business owners on Instagram have used the app to help grow and sustain their business.
Many Malaysian business owners, like @eyeheartyou.shop, share a common understanding that a key factor to a successful endeavour is having a visually pleasing aesthetic among others. This is why many businesses turn to Instagram as a digital marketing solution. It is a platform founded on a visual-centric basis.
Despite more than a decade’s worth of progress and growth, Instagram has still managed to stay true to its initial roots as a primarily photo-sharing application. But its users have most certainly evolved with how they make use of it.
Easily attainable graphic design tools and free photography lessons out-and-about online has made it easier than ever for business owners to put out eye-catching visuals.
Mix that in with an easy to work photo-sharing feature, and you’ve got a sure-fire way of advertising your business.
Instagram Stories & Highlights
When Instagram first introduced this feature in 2016, it was met with mixed response. Some liked it because it meant a mimic of Snapchat, some hated it for the same reason. But human creativity, and major renovation work on Instagram’s part, prevailed with how over the years Stories have become an integral part of the Instagram user experience.
Small local businesses like @honeymilkinks have harnessed this feature to post a variety of quick and easy-to-share content to their followers. Content like behind-the-scenes of preparing orders, creating and promoting products, or even sharing customer reviews and participating in fun challenges. On many occasions, consumers enjoy this kind of content from business owners because it adds a humane touch and a sense of closeness with the audience, ultimately adding a new page to the basis’ of social media marketing.
Additionally, since the introduction of the Stories Highlight feature, businesses have been able to use it to share important information like T&Cs and FAQs about their work that demand the attention of customers.
Now, Instagram Stories and Highlights are viewed as one of the most important features that businesses can make use of for their growth.
Similar to the Stories feature, the Instagram highlights feature was initially met with a mixed reaction. The whole function of the feature was derived from the highly popular app, TikTok. As it is still relatively new in Malaysia, many business owners have yet to hop on the bandwagon.
The same as it is on TikTok, Reels are a powerful digital marketing tool that many businesses have to credit for their success. With Reels, you don’t need hundreds of thousands of followers to guarantee exposure. By the way it’s built, it is quite literally made for exposure.
Clothing businesses such as @yk.vintage create content like, product testing, promo videos, QnAs and many more to be posted on reels for the whole world to see, which can easily rack up high viewership numbers, resulting in high engagement.
It is also easy to navigate around and makes even the most inexperienced individual into a capable video content creator overnight.
Introducing IG Shop is by far the most straight forward way Instagram has shown it’s elevation of the user experience on the platform as a multifunctional social media-digital marketing tool.
As the name of it suggests, IG shop is a built in shopping feature that businesses, like @beadclassic can set up to have a more orgaised way of promoting, selling and purchasing their products. While it functions similarly to most online shopping platforms like Shopee or Lazada, rather than being able to purchase from the feature itself, it moreso acts as a bridge that connects buyers from Instagram to the business’s official site, where they can then make then purchase.
One of the biggest benefits this feature has is the professional edge it offers to small local online businesses.
Unfortunately, many Malaysians still find online businesses “unorthodox” due to their simple nature. This feature, in a way, helps to legimatise these businesses to come off as more authentic to these audiences.
Furthermore, by connecting Instagram to official business sites, IG Shop is creating more exposure for the business by directing consumers to browse through more products.
As you can see, Instagram has influenced the way business owners choose to operate in ways they choose to communicate and engage with audiences, using different features. It is a fast growing, influential platform for many reasons and has ultimately greatly impacted the approach to digital marketing.