Brand Accounts coming to Instagram?

Instagram testAdWeek posted yesterday that Instagram is testing out Brand Accounts/Profiles. I”m not sure this is a good thing. They have some great features that will be released for brands. Will the pages come at a price? Meaning will it be run similar to Brand Pages on Facebook?

What is being Tested? 

First, lets talk about what they are testing. According to the AdWeek article they said these are the features that are currently being tested. They include  “contact call-to-action button, access to maps and directions, the ability for users to email the businesses and the ability for the business owner to specify what type of business the profile represents.” All of these are interesting but I would rather see Instagram commerce over maps or a call to action. The email the business would be a welcome change.

Why I don’t like this idea. 

Let’s look at Facebook pages. Over the last few years Facebook had downgraded the weight of posts by pages/brands. This has not been more evident than with the recent addition to the feed change for pages. A new criteria is time spent on post. The amount of time people spend on a post are factored into whether the post is served to people. Its getting harder and harder for smaller businesses to make waves on Facebook. Growth used to happen organically and fast. Now its harder to get people to see your page to like it.

Instagram is moving to a curated feed. As you know it’s owned by Facebook. If they segregate brands like they do on Facebook, they will interfere with growth and post reach. Some of the best content on Instagram are done by brands. One of my favorites is National Geographic. They post the most amazing pictures. If the site moves to down play brands, It is very likely that I will see less of their pictures. Other brands like National Geographic, are making really amazing content that I don’t think should be segregated from the rest of the service.

Will it be Pay to Play?

My biggest fear is that it will move to the “Pay for Play” like on Facebook. If you are a smaller brand and want to get notice and grow a page. You MUST place ads to get the eyes. If you want growth on Facebook you pretty much have to have a paid strategy. When I first started in social, Facebook pages grew at a great rate. It was steady but certain times you saw big growth. Now, for some of the pages I have managed over the last two years it grows either very slowly or is flat. If this comes to Instagram, the fear growth and interaction will drop substantially.

Not many businesses will be able to do a two pronged attack with paid social. I wish they would do what Twitter is rumored to plan for their curated feed. They will have the firehose where it’s everything in one feed and in chronological order. Then there will be another tab that shows posts they think you would be interested in. Basically they are making it optional.

This is still in the testing phases. No word on when or if these changes will be implemented. Also, if brands will be forced to convert to a brand profile. Just be ware if you are on Instagram that changes maybe coming!

Tim is the founder of Element33. A social media agency specializing in education, management and strategy for small businesses. He comes from a traditional marketing agency but has embraced all things digital. He considers himself a marketing nerd and believes that all marketing is tied together. This means no matter what silo you are in, social, email, seach, etc, changes in one will affect the other!

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