B&T Chats With Marne Levine, Global Chief Operating Officer Of Instagram

B&T Chats With Marne Levine, Global Chief Operating Officer Of Instagram
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Today Instagram has released updated figures of the number of advertisers using the platform. The Number of advertisers has more than doubled in six months since February when Instagram first announced 200K advertisers on the platform, there are now 500,000 advertisers (majority small to medium businesses) using Instagram. B&T sat down with global chief operating officer of Instagram, Marne Levine during her visit to Australia to chat about advertisers on Insta.

What brings you to Australia?

I’ve been wanting to come to Australia for a long time personally, but I also have a great reason through Instagram to come here. We have 500 million global users, with 80 per cent of those outside of the U.S, there are now seven million Australian users. I was particularly interested to come here to see how people are using Instagram stories, which is a new format we introduced, and talk to businesses to understand how they’re using the new business tools which we launched in Australia first. Just generally get the feedback from the vibrant Instagram community here.

Instagram has launched a crazy amount of consumer products this year- Instagram Stories, Boomerang, Zoom, comment moderation and 60 second video. Why is there all of sudden such an increase in products? How can advertisers use these products?

It was just five years ago that Instagram was only about photo; but the community has grown and changed, the way we communicate has grown and changed. What we have done is responded to what the community has been asking for in new and different tools and ways to tell their stories. We’re committed to innovating on formats and creative tools so people feel inspired and excited.

When I say people that means businesses and brands, they’re very much a part of it. Even with Stories brands are the ones that are experimenting and leading the way. It’s Fashion Week in New York right now, I’ll use fashion brand Proenza Schouler as a global example.

What you would have seen previously would be one shoot of the runway or one photo. But now what you’re seeing from Proenza Schouler is Fashion Week through their eyes- you’re seeing the models get ready, you’re seeing Anna Wintour looking at the line-up, you’re seeing makeup artists, the reaction of the people sitting front row. You get this full 360 degree look at what it’s like to be at New York Fashion Week. Proenza Schouler is a brand, Vogue is a brand, all of the models have brands.

What about from an Australian brand perspective?

We’re seeing the same level of excitement from brands in Australia where we have such a vibrant community. Because of the activity among business here Australia was the first place where we launched Business Tools. It was an obvious place to launch it, there are 2.1 million small business across Australia.

We commissioned research where we talked to people about their intent to start a business; of the people who we surveyed 30 per cent said they were interested in starting a business and 70 per cent said if they had the right tools with social media they would feel more comfortable in starting. So we knew the reception of Business Tools would be great here.

We now have 1.5 million business globally that use the Business Tools, what’s involved is you can have a Business Profile which has a contact button and indicates you’re a business. Brands have been a really important part of Instagram from the beginning but people didn’t necessarily know you were a business.

It also provides businesses with insights so we can understand how the things they’re doing on Instagram are performing, they get visibility into where their followers are coming from and what times of day their followers are most active. They get all of these insights which help them develop their presence. They’re able to take a successful post and easily convert it into an ad and target it to put the right story in front of the right people, and grow their business.

Business Tools seem targeted towards small business, why are small business such an important part of the platform?

We started advertising about two years ago, it was available to a handful of advertisers mainly big brands in a handful of countries. What we heard from advertisers is they want to do more on Instagram, we heard from people in the community that they wanted to be able to take that next action once they were inspired.

People come to Instagram seeking inspiration, to connect around shared passions and interest. Often times what a business provides is something they’re passionate about. It’s a product or service, 50 per cent of Instagram users follow a brand voluntarily and 60 per cent say they learn about a product on Instagram and 75 per cent say that after they learn about a new product and they’ve been inspired they take an action.

For businesses it’s all about inspiring action, what we did last Fall is open up advertising tools for businesses big and small in more than 200 countries. We gave them an ability to drive a range of different business objectives. Here in Australia with 2.1 million small businesses that makes it 98 per cent of the business, it’s the back bone of the economy. So we’re excited for the potential opportunity to help small business grow, for many of them Instagram is really natural to them.

For some Instagram was where their business was born, they had a passion or an idea and they shared an image on Instagram and suddenly someone inquired. There’s this woman called Samantha from Hobbe Australia, she was about to have a baby couldn’t find a perfect rocking chair so she designed one herself and put the sketches on her Instagram account. She sold out of her first production before they were even out of production, so now she has a full fledge business.

This is just one example of how Instagram has really helped a business and fuelled business objectives. That’s what we’re focused because the opportunity is there for all these businesses.

Read part 2 of the interview with Marne Levine next week.

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