There are almost 28 million small businesses in the U.S. today, including 22 million self-employed small business owners — and social media giant Instagram wants to help them succeed.
The picture sharing app offers a unique advertising platform for small local businesses, and on March 22, the website officially reached 1 million advertisers, which is five times more than they had a year ago. Not only that, but most of Instagram’s advertisers are small businesses, from local bakeries to independent clothing designers.
The number of marketers using the social media app has risen steadily in recent years. The Facebook-owned app has created the option for small business owners to create business profiles, which gives companies the ability to list all their contact information, directions to their business, and speak directly with consumers with the touch of a button. As of right now, there are 8 million global business profiles on Instagram, which has grown five times in just seven months.
So where did this sudden rise come from?
In addition to the business profiles, Instagram offers free analytic data, including information on how many people are liking, commenting, and re-posting their pictures, detailed information on the demographics of their followers, and the chance to observe what posts get the most recognition organically before they decide what to promote in a paid ad campaign.
Plus, there are many different applications within Instagram itself — Hyperlapse creates time-lapse videos and Boomerang makes micro-looping videos — and business owners have the ability to create custom content for their customers with barely any hassle.
“Many small businesses don’t have a website or the traffic to sustain a separate place for booking,” Instagram’s VP of Business James Quarles explained to Forbes. “They just want to have that as part of their Instagram experience. We’re just getting started in building the tools businesses would like to find customers and get people to stores.”
Because Instagram is mainly meant to be used on a smartphone, business owners can work on their branding from anywhere. And for reaching a generation hooked on instant gratification, visual ads are particularly high-impact. That’s why Instagram’s 1 million advertisers and 600 million active social media users are on track to generate $3.64 billion this year in worldwide advertising revenue, according to the firm eMarketer.
Facebook, comparatively, has more than 4 million advertisers and a larger user base. But considering that Instagram has only been around since 2010, (Facebook launched in 2004), this is a big feat.
And Instagram’s efforts to attract small businesses are working. Around 80% of users on the app are following a business, and more than 120 million users have used those business profiles to visit the business itself. It is important to realize that this goes for users of all ages, not just Millennials attached to their smartphones.
Interestingly enough, while 84% of Millennials and Generation Y-ers between 25 and 35-years old report that they have left their favorite websites because of intrusive advertising, Instagram’s ads haven’t turned off users. And even the older generations are loving what Instagram is doing.
In fact, Internet users between the ages of 65 to 74 are the most likely to search out a product or business after seeing an ad on Facebook. After them, baby boomers are next in line. So even though these older generations make up a small amount of Instagram users, they are quite open-minded when it comes to marketing efforts.
With a fast-growing user and advertiser base, it appears that Instagram is following closely in the footsteps of Facebook.