Everything you need to know about Instagram’s newest account profile and what it means for marketers:
A Brief History of Instagram Accounts
Kevin and Mike launched Instagram, way back, in October of 2010. That month, the world was collectively holding its breath as 33 trapped Chilean miners were rescued, Just the Way You Are by Bruno Mars was the #1 song and Instagram launched with two profiles Public and Private.
It was a simpler time and “social media influencer” hadn't entered the marketing lexicon.
Instagram profiles were simply Public or Private for quite some time. The next significant change to Instagram (at this point owned by Facebook) happened 3 years ago when Instagram launched the Business Profile. This represented the first time that Instagram features differed from profile to profile. It signified the first time that Instagram required users to register their accounts differently and connect them to a Facebook Business page. This also foreshadowed the ongoing assimilation of Instagram by Facebook which we will discuss a little later.
Content creators (i.e. influencers) were forced into using Business Accounts as it was the only way to get access to the all-important Instagram Insights. But, these Business Accounts were not really designed for the unique needs of Content Creators.
Cut to the present day and Instagram is quietly testing the newest profile type “Creator Account”. This new incarnation is a direct response to the meteoric Influencer/Creator Marketing Boom. There are now three clear user segments in the Instagram ecosystem:
- Content consumers: represented by the average person who shares some of their life on Instagram but mostly consumes the content created by others - using Private / Public Profiles
- Content Creators: represented by the hardworking (frequently beautiful) people who are consciously creating content in an effort to build an audience - using Creator Profiles
- Brands: who are creating their own “channel” to promote and sell their products. They leverage the talents and audiences of our aforementioned Content Creators - using Business Profiles
Does the ecosystem look familiar? Well, it should. It mirrors the traditional broadcasting/advertising model established almost 100 years ago! (First radio commercial 1922).
Only now anyone can produce entertaining content, and Instagram (Facebook) owns the “airwaves”. Make no mistake, the new Instagram Creator Accounts are part of a much larger Facebook plan designed to drive even more advertising dollars their way. Which is fine, I don’t begrudge any company’s pursuit of profit growth.
So that’s the Instagram story. From starting with only personal profiles to now having profiles for all the players in their ecosystem (audience, creators and brands). Let’s next take a sneak peek at these creator accounts and end with a discussion around what it means for the rest of us marketers.
(Note: if you read nothing else make sure to check out the section below on Instagram Shoppable post as this will change everything).
Guided Tour: Instagram Creator Account
Profile Display Options
On the surface, the new Instagram Creator account really doesn't look that much different than any other account. If we examine the profile of our good friend and amazing creator @honestly_alexandra the only subtle ways to tell that this is a Creator Account is A. the “Blogger” title underneath her profile picture and B. the “Email” button at the bottom of her profile. If we compare this to the Business Account of my favourite store @loopclothing we see that they have additional buttons (Shop, Call) at the bottom of their profile.
This highlights two of the new features of Creator Accounts:
Choose your profile category
Creators can now select a category they feel best represents the work they do on Instagram. Options include but are not limited to blogger, author, entrepreneur, athlete, musician.
Action Buttons on Profile
Creators can now decide what actions they want to make available in their Profile. These actions are different from those in a traditional business account. Creators can enable the action buttons of “Email” or “Phone” whereas Business Accounts can choose from dozens of possible action buttons like Book Now, Reserve, Get Tickets etc.
Follower Growth Analysis
There are a number of Creator Account features that might not apply to marketers but they are very important to the Instagram creators we love to work with.
It would appear that the most important reporting available on a Creator Account is “follower growth over time”. Specifically, analytics that look at daily follow growth/losses, and of course, the Post and Stories that correspond to those follower changes. If you select any day on the Growth graph and tap See Posts (above the graph), you’ll see all of the stories and feed posts you shared on that day.
This reporting is obviously critical to a creator who is building an audience for themselves. An Instagram creator now has better insight into what content grows followers vs. what content repels them. I would argue this information will be beneficial to marketers who ultimately want to work with Instagram collaborators that know what content helps build and keep an audience.
Direct Message Inbox Filtering
Instagram direct messaging has become an important communication channel for content creators/influencers. Currently, Instagram Business Accounts have a single inbox for messages and the “requests tab” for potentially spam-related messages.
The new Creator Account offers an inbox with Primary, General and Request tabs. This makes perfect sense as I can easily imagine the scenario where a beautiful person with tens of thousands of followers likely receive a pile of (sometimes genuine & sometimes creepy) fan messages. How do you filter the follower message from the brands trying to do business? The split inbox solves this problem. Accounts that are verified or have a significant number of followers can be filtered to the Primary Tab while fan mail can go to the General Tab.
Editors Note: The Request Tab now tab sorts invites as Top Request vs. All Request. The Socialpeeks team was curious as to how Instagram determines Top Request vs All Request. Does Instagram prioritize request from people with more followers or from verified accounts? To solve the mystery we did a small test here in the office but we were unable to determine what criteria Instagram is using for Top Request. We have requested more information from Facebook but did not receive a response at the time of this blogs publication.
Desktop Access to Analytics With Creator Studio
Above all else, the target user of the new Instagram Creator Account is just that...content creators. Which is why Instagram would want to tie these Creator Accounts into their Creator Studio for Facebook.
Instagram has notoriously forced content creation within the application on your phone or tablet. As Instagram content creators become more sophisticated the tools needed to create, publish and manage their content must become equally sophisticated. A big step in the right direction is linking Instagram content to the Facebook Creator Studio.
From a desktop computer individuals with Instagram Creator Accounts can manage content directly from Facebook Creator Studio. Basically, Facebook Creator Studio allows a creator to more easily view their Instagram content (published and draft) as well as the insights from their recent content. There is a great review of Creator Studio by Arielle Gnann published on the IMPACT blog that you can check out HERE. Arielle highlights some of the notable features as:
- Inbox View: which allows users to manage messages and comments directly from Creator Studio.
- Content Library: which allows users to sort post types, dates, statuses, and more with additional filters. You are even able to view the activity of posts.
- Loyalty View: shines a light on your followers’ activity and demonstrates how many were returning viewers, plus how long people engaged with your videos.
- Sound Collection: which stores a variety of sound effects and tracks you can use in your videos.
If you are the average Instagram user (like myself) you don’t really care about the insights from your vacation post. And you aren’t overwhelmed at the thought of trying to manage all the pictures you have taken. But, if you are a creator on Instagram, carefully managing your content and business collaborations, Creator Studio is likely a welcome addition to your Instagram toolkit.
Instagram Shoppable Post
Now for the BIGGEST reason to care about the new Instagram Creator Profile.
Influencers with Instagram Creator profiles will have the ability to publish Instagram Shoppable Post. As a marketer, I believe this is the single most important feature and could have a major impact on e-commerce everywhere.
Currently, Instagram is the place brands drive awareness about their products and services. As marketers, the knock against Instagram is that we have to take extra steps (i.e trackable links in the bio) to track when “awareness on Instagram turns into real sales”! What if the customer could purchase your product within the Instagram app.
That is the promise of Instagram Shoppable Post. While this feature is still being tested and only available to select accounts it is only a matter of time before this becomes a major channel for many retailers. There is an excellent overview by Matt Smith from the Hubspot Blog that you can check out for yourself.
I’m sure you can guess how this works: Creators tag the products featured within their Instagram Shoppable post. People viewing a shoppable post will now have the additional option to “Tap to View Products”. From here customers can check out and purchase the products featured in the post. Brilliant….sales conversion built directly into the marketing asset.
I believe that Shoppable Post changes the strategy that marketers, conducting influencer/creator programs, take in two big ways:
The metrics we monitor:
Never mind the frequently flawed metrics of followers, likes and comments. Marketers will now want to measure an influencer’s Sales numbers and conversion metrics. Imagine it, actually calculating a real ROI from influencer campaigns.
The influencers we choose:
Creators will no longer be able to solely focus on developing content that increases their followers (I’m looking at you half naked beautiful people whose Instagram feed resembles a swimsuit calendar). With shoppable posts, marketers will be looking for creators who produce content that converts. Content that showcases a product and expounds on its virtues will be far more useful than a post of someone simply holding up a product and hoping your followers notice it.
Note: If you are interested in trying this for your brand the aforementioned Hubspot Blog does a great job of laying out the different ways you can set up your e-commerce with Instagram. I will also be publishing an additional blog dedicated to this new world of Instagram e-commerce.
Marketing with Instagram Creator Profiles
Every blog, in our industry, bores us with the same rehashed Influencer Marketing industry stats and growth projections. We all get it, people consumer social media at massive rates which means it is the ideal place to promote brands. Instagram creators are the stars of this new social media world and thus Influencer Marketing has become a huge business. The launch of Instagram Creator Accounts is a direct response to this new huge business. Marketers and brands need to be aware of the new Instagram Creator Accounts as many creators in the industry will be converting over in the coming weeks and months.
Side note, should you want to identify who has a creator account you can use a tool like Socialpeeks Chrome Plug in. The smiley face with starry eyes indicates a Creator Account vs. the building icon which indicates a Business Account.
The majority of the new features associated with Instagram Creator profiles are designed to help creators build an audience and manage collaborations. As marketers, these features might not impact us directly but we can leverage them to run more successful influencer campaigns.
My primary piece of advice is to ensure that creators share their profile information with you so that you can determine for yourself if they are a good fit. Media kits with inflated engagement numbers and an impressive follower count are basically useless. As creators get better insights into their own accounts, marketers should get direct access to that same information.
Next, marketers need to leverage Instagram in a way that benefits the business. Experimenting with Shoppable post seems like the most obvious opportunity. As Instagram becomes an e-commerce platform savvy marketers will design Instagram influencers campaigns that not only drive brand awareness via impressions but also convert customers and generate revenue.