Instagram began as a social media platform to share filtered photos with friends when it launched in 2010, and the app has grown to an online community of 1 billion people around the world since then. Now businesses are using Instagram to connect with users in a variety of ways, Marne Levine, COO of Instagram says.
Levine sat down with Tyler Haney, founder and CEO of sportswear retailer Outdoor Voices, to discuss how retailers could play and win in this digital space during a panel at NRF 2018: Retail’s Big Show. The panel took place following a discussion with Walmart CEO Doug McMillon, who spoke about technology and embracing change.
Humanize Your Brand
During the panel, Levine shared insights on the social media platform and the various ways the company was working to help businesses and retailers connect with potential customers and strengthen relationships with existing customers.
According to Levine, 25 million brands use Instagram to connect, engage and communicate with people, not consumers or customers, because the platform is all about the human connection.
“What Instagram does is it brings people closer to the people and things that they care about,” Levine says. “And a lot of what they care about comes from businesses. In fact, of our community of more than 800 million people, 80 percent connect with a business voluntarily.”
Through the app, retailers now have the ability to have their own business profile and create their own personality and presence among Instagram users. Levine says the company has focused on providing tools and formats for retailers.
One way businesses can create a deeper relationship with Instagram users is through Instagram Stories, Levine says. The stories feature allows users to post a series of videos and photos that disappear after 24 hours.
“It’s been amazing to see the way retailers have embraced this new format and the way they’re telling their stories,” Levine says. “Of the top watched stories, a third are from businesses. What this tells you is that users in the Instagram community want to hear from businesses.”
Two other useful tools businesses can utilize are Insights and Poll stickers. Insights provides business profiles with analytics, such as the geography of its followers. Through polls, retailers can also gather customer feedback directly through the app.
During the panel, Levine shared examples of retailers that have found success in the platform, including Haney’s business, as well as J. Crew and New Balance.
“Where are we going? We want to make sure Instagram is not just a place for discovery but a place where business gets done,” Levine says. “I think it is so important to adopt a mobile mindset. The best thing for retailers is happening right now.”
The North American Retail Hardware Association recently launched its own Instagram page. Follow along for more insights like this into industry events, trends and opportunities.