This article is a must-read for brands that showcase Instagram or user-generated content (UGC) in their online stores. If you use Instagram to power …
- Shoppable feeds on your storefront
- Onsite Instagram-display feeds
- Content on product pages
- UGC from #hashtags
Everything is about to change.
Editorial note: An advanced copy of this article was shared with staff at Facebook and Instagram. While not representing an endorsement of the companies featured, no factual inaccuracies were identified and the content that follows was cleared for publication.
Earlier this year, Facebook announced a number of changes to how users and apps can access Instagram content.
Some of those changes have already been implemented, but on Dec. 11, 2018, the remaining updates will go into full effect. Unfortunately, many ecommerce brands are unprepared.
This is in no way due to Instagram’s policies or communication; instead, it’s more a matter of how rapidly social commerce is evolving alongside the usual demands of running a business.
Facebook’s new rules require a Business Account to use UGC onsite as well as to access the full breadth of Instagram’s data.
If you don’t switch to a Business Account and you don’t use an Instagram Graph API approved app, your UGC feeds will stop updating in the middle of the 2018 holiday shopping season. However, if you only showcase Instagram content, your feeds will continue to work and update as expected since Instagram will not be deprecating this functionality until early 2020. But — tick tock — 2019 is almost here, and this time frame is going to run out faster than you think.
Here’s why …
Instagram Business Accounts & Ecommerce
Instagram has never been bigger than it is right now. Especially for ecommerce. Instagram is one of the few social platforms that loves products and branded content.
Because of how well shoppable Instagram and UGC feeds work to drive sales onsite, apps powered by Instagram are more popular than ever, too.
Previously, apps built on the Instagram Platform API allowed both business and non-business Instagram accounts to access content and data. On Dec. 11, 2018, most of that old API will be deprecated and apps will have transitioned to the new Instagram Graph API:
To continue showcasing UGC on your website and have the ability to access Instagram account engagement, you must convert to a Business Account because apps built on the new Instagram Graph API require an Instagram Business Account in order for them to function.
The crux of the matter is that Facebook is limiting the kind of data that third-party apps can access on non-business users.
Switching to a Business Account is the only way you as a marketer or brand will be able to access the content and insights you need going forward. (For more documentation, see Facebook’s “Instagram Graph API: Getting Started”.)
If you’re wondering, “Why haven’t I noticed any of this yet?” great question. Although many of the above functions were removed from the Instagram API in April through August, they allowed some of them to stay active … but only until Dec. 11, 2018.
To keep everything running smoothly, you need to do the following as soon as possible:
▢ Convert your Instagram profile to an Instagram Business Account
▢ Make sure your store is using an Instagram and UGC app that is approved by Facebook on the Instagram Graph API
But won’t an Instagram Business Account hurt reach and engagement?
Many brands haven’t made the switch due to the wide-spread rumor that converting your account negatively impacts reach and reduces user interactions.
These rumors couldn’t be further from the truth, and there has been no proof or correlations to suggest Business Accounts see fewer interactions. In fact, back in June, Instagram cleared the air in a statement to TechCrunch:
“Instagram doesn’t give extra feed presence to personal accounts or business accounts, so switching won’t help your reach.”
Put more positively, Jake Kassan — co-founder of MVMT — told Shopify Plus’ editorial staff last week:
“We used a mix of organic and paid strategies to scale MVMT to our $100 million acquisition earlier this year and a lot of that was done through Instagram.
“Using a Business Account lets us continue to grow through product tagging in posts and Stories that drives sales directly to our Shopify Plus store.
“It also lets our social and marketing teams leverage MVMT’s influencer collaborations and UGC onsite so the community around MVMT expands as we move into new channels.”
At Foursixty, we work with over 3,000 brands and after speaking to hundreds of store owners, converting to a business profile is chalk full of benefits.
Here are six reasons why you should make the switch:
1. Your Instagram content (for now) and UGC Feeds Won’t Stop Over the Holidays
If you feature UGC on your website, the last headache you need is to find that your galleries are no longer updating.
If you currently feature Instagram content in your site and your Instagram account is not an Instagram business account or you're not using an approved Instagram Graph API app, you only have until early 2020 to continue using this functionality without interruption. So, consider transitioning to an Instagram business account now to get ahead of the game.
Brand’s using Foursixty regularly see 8-10X the engagement on Shoppable Instagram feeds onsite over the holiday season. That’s a revenue source nobody wants to miss out on.
In the case of Pura Vida Bracelets — who grew 1,447% over the past five years, 210% YoY from 2017 to 2018, and have amassed over 110,000 micro-influencers on Instagram — Foursixty’s app generates ~17% of their online revenue.
That isn’t a plug for my company. Rather, it’s just one of many data points that prove how incredibly valuable taking the Instagram experience onsite can be.
For instance, Frankies Bikinis drives 19% of orders and 23% of total revenue through their shoppable Instagram app.
By converting your Instagram account to a Business Account, and making sure the third-party apps you use are approved, you can rest assured that your social shopping galleries will be fully powered to help you crush the holiday season … and forevermore after that.
2. You Can Access Instagram’s Native Shopping Features
Recently, Instagram introduced their native shopping feature to more businesses through product tagging within posts. They also unveiled a similar feature for Stories:
Though you have to be approved by Instagram to use the shopping tag feature, you must be — wait for it — a Business Account.
Instagram is still primarily used for discovering products and brands; however, giving your followers a direct path to purchase is a great feature. Shoppable posts provide users the ability to learn more in the moment and tees them up to buy whenever they want.
During the holidays, the option to buy seamlessly is one of the best things you can provide.
3. You Won’t Be Able to Pull UGC from Hashtags Anymore
You know it better than anyone — hashtags have been notoriously over-used and abused for years.
As part of Instagram’s changes, you’ll no longer be able to draw UGC from #hashtags. @tags and @mentions are the new source.
While this might sounds worrisome, it’s actually a good thing because collecting UGC from @tags and @mentions will actually provide you with better content, a closer relationship with your followers, and a better rights management process.
I don’t mean to sound like a broken record, but the ability to source UGC from @tags and @mentions?
Yup — it’s only available to Instagram Business Accounts. This is a UGC game changer for anyone running influencer or micro-influencer campaigns as well as content from customers.
4. Business Accounts Get Tons of Instagram Analytics
Instagram’s analytics tab (e.g., Insights) is a great place to turn to for high-level information on things like Stories metrics, post reach, demographic information, profile visits, bio clicks, and more.
Alternatively, Foursixty’s new Instagram Business Analytics lets you create custom dashboards (based on your own data) to paint a beautiful and in-depth picture of the inner workings of your Instagram engagement.
Non-Business Account users don’t get access to any of that data.
5. Third-Party Instagram Apps Need You to be a Business Account
The API changes in April altered how third-party apps functioned overnight, and many apps stopped working immediately.
Unfortunately, some of them never recovered, leaving brands with Instagram feeds that no longer updated in their online stores.
In order for any apps to provide you with a full suite of Instagram services moving forward, an Instagram Business Account is 100% required.
6. Instagram Business Accounts Give You the Credibility You Deserve
Your fans, customers, and consumers who are just discovering you may use Instagram as their first touch-point with your brand.
If you’re not giving them the most relevant details they need in the most official capacity, you run the risk of not looking as legitimate as you really are.
If you’re a business, get a Business Account. It just makes sense.
As you can see, only good things will happen once you convert your account to an Instagram Business Account.
Give yourself peace of mind this holiday season and get it done.
For guidance, go to Instagram Business Tools Help Center. There you’ll find videos and step-by-step answers to questions like:
- How do I set up a business profile on Instagram?
- How do I get approved for shopping on Instagram?
- What insights are available for shopping posts?
If you’re a Shopify Plus merchant, be sure to reach out to your Merchant Success Manager. You can also drop me questions in the comments.
About the Author
Michael Chachula is the founder and CEO of Foursixty, the global leader in Shoppable Instagram and UGC technology. Foursixty helps thousands of brands and bloggers monetize both their brand and user-generated Instagram content and use Instagram data to drive their visual marketing and influencer initiatives.