Instagram's latest experiment to make its photo-sharing network more business- and ad-friendly is dedicated brand pages for companies. The new profiles adopt some of the functions of Facebook pages by categorizing companies by type and letting users reach out using a contact button. Once tapped, this Instagram contact button lets you send an email to the business owner or get directions to the nearest outlet. Screenshots of the experimental profiles were first posted by social media blog Later.com, and Instagram confirmed to TechCrunch the test was visible to a small number of users.
Instagram has long allowed brands, small businesses, and well-known figures to create accounts on its platform. It also uses the same blue checkmark verification system its parent company adopted from Twitter years ago. Still, despite those identifiers, Instagram has failed to include any additional features that would allow companies to interact with users beyond likes, comments, and links. So the new business profiles for Instagram would be a important step toward matching the more robust benefits of having an active Facebook page.
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has in the past expressed his vision for Facebook-owned messaging products to become an avenue for consumers to talk with businesses. That means talking via text on WhatsApp or conversing with company-branded chat bots on Messenger. With Instagram, which now boasts over 200,000 advertisers and more than 400 million active users, Facebook has another opportunity to create a direct channel to consumers and turn more accounts into money-making parts of its business.