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How Instagram is making it easier to do business

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When Instagram first launched, its nature as a photo and video sharing social media platform may not have been an obvious fit for businesses to promote and engage potential customers. In fact, over the years it has shown itself to be one of the most business-friendly social media sites, and Instagram’s own data backs up how successful this has been: more than 200 million daily active users visit a business’s Instagram profile every day, while more than 150 million have a conversation with a business via its private messaging system, Instagram Direct, each month.

Now, Instagram is introducing a set of new features for businesses that use Instagram Direct, designed to make communications between individuals and businesses easier and more efficient. Beginning next quarter, businesses will see important new customer messages in the main Instagram Direct inbox, rather than in the pending folder. The social media site is also introducing the ability to star and filter conversations, to make it easier to come back to customer messages that you may want to follow up on later. Although not rolled out yet, they are also testing a “quick reply” feature to make is easier for businesses to respond to frequently asked questions.

Another important new feature being rolled out for businesses is the introduction of action buttons that a customer can click to “Reserve,” “Get Tickets,” “Start Order” or “Book” through a variety of popular third-party partners such as Atom Tickets, ChowNow, EatStreet, Restorando and Yelp Reservations. Crucially, this allows customers the option to buy, reserve or order from businesses without leaving Instagram, making it that much easier to convert discovery into action.

As a site that has been a boon for businesses as a social media marketing platform, Instagram’s latest features are an important step in making the discovery-to-sale process that much easier for customers—and that’s good news for businesses. The action buttons, in particular, mean customers can complete a purchase without even having to click through to your website; one Oklahoma restaurant already using the feature says that the addition of a “Reserve” button on their business profile has added an additional 15 to 20 bookings per week.